Posts Tagged ‘League’

Global Poker League Playoffs Set, But Why the Delay?

 Global Poker League Playoffs Set, But Why the Delay?

After nearly seven months of action (counting delays), the Global Poker League has reached its playoffs. While one conference had nearly set its four-team roster for the postseason, the other conference had plenty of jostling for position with none of the six teams eliminated as of the start of the final week of the regular season.

The conference with the least work to do, the GPL Americas, kicked off the week’s action with their three heads up matches. With the Montreal Nationals, the L. A. Sunset and the Sao Paulo Metropolitans all assured of a playoff spot – and the Las Vegas Moneymakers eliminated from contention – the final slot would come down to either the San Francisco Rush or the New York Rounders.

The Moneymakers’ Scott Ball would prove to be the proverbial thorn in the side of Manager Bryn Kenney of the Rounders, thumping Kenney by a 3-0 margin (a 9-0 rout by points).  In getting zero points, Kenney essentially eliminated his squad from playoff contention as the Rush’s three-point margin before they even took to the virtual baize was enough to lock up the final playoff spot for them; the Rush gathered in six points from Phil Galfond via his 2-1 victory over the Metropolitans’ Felipe Ramos to ensure their position.

On Wednesday, the GPL Eurasia put the cards in the virtual air to determine their entire lineup for the upcoming playoffs. With both the Hong Kong Stars and the Berlin Bears playing before them (and against each other nonetheless), the Moscow Wolverines would know after the Stars/Bears match what they would need to do to take the GPL Eurasia championship. The answer? Nothing, as the Stars’ Randy ‘Nanonoko’ Lew took the first two games against the Bears’ Dominik Nitsche to win the match, but he couldn’t pull off the sweep to put the pressure on the Wolverines by passing them in the standings and handing the Wolverines the championship.

By that singular match between the Stars and the Bears, the first three positions were set for the GPL Eurasia playoffs. The Wolverines were assured of the #1 seed and, because of their performance, the Stars eclipsed the Bears for the #2 seed. All that was left was for the London Royals, the Paris Aviators and the Rome Emperors to decide who would take the final slot.

In the second match on Wednesday, the Emperors’ Mustapha Kanit got off to a good start with a win, but the Royals’ Justin Bonomo would strike back and take the next two games to win the entire match 2-1 (6-3 on points). With the win, the Royals officially eliminated the Emperors from contention, but they had to sweat out the final match of the day between the newly-crowned champion Wolverines and the Aviators.

With nothing to play for, Wolverines manager Anatoly Filatov could have simply “taken a knee” (given up the game) and allowed the Aviators’ Alexandre Luneau to have a walk. Instead, Filatov came out firing, winning the first game, before dropping the second to Luneau. In the penultimate game, Filatov pulled out the win to take the best of three set 2-1 (6-3 on points). Despite having the same point total as the Royals, the Aviators didn’t have as many wins (15-14) during the regular season, relegating them to the fifth-place slot and missing the playoffs.

After the dramatic regular season finale, it was almost anti-climactic to learn the brackets for the GPL playoffs. Beginning on November 29, the teams will line up like this (with the chips they will bring to the table):

GPL Americas

#1 Montreal Nationals (130,000) vs. #4 San Francisco Rush (100,000)
#2 L. A. Sunset (120,000) vs. #3 Sao Paulo Metropolitans (110,000)

GPL Eurasia

#1 Moscow Wolverines (130,000) vs. #4 London Royals (100,000)
#2 Hong Kong Stars (120,000) vs. #3 Berlin Bears (110,000)

The difference in the chip counts is a bonus for the teams who earned the higher seed to have an advantage over their competition. Once the semi-finals are set, the team with the better seed will receive a 40,000 bonus over the 200,000-starting stack. For the Finals, the champions of the GPL Americas and GPL Eurasia will both start with 500,000 in chips.

At issue for many is why is there a delay in the play of the GPL Playoffs and the Championship Final. The playoffs are scheduled to start on November 29 with the GPL Americas determining its eventual champion and, on November 30, the GPL Eurasia will figure out their champion. The weekend of action will culminate with the crowning of the inaugural Global Poker League champion on December 1.

The delay works out well for the players as, at that time of the year, the tournament calendar is beginning to slow down (the traditional calendar year finale, the World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic, begins on December 5). For those competing in the playoffs, it gives them the opportunity to get to Las Vegas to be able to participate at the GPL Arena (especially if they are overseas) and perhaps make some more out of their time by having the WPT event soon afterwards. It also allows for the managers of the teams competing for the title a chance to do some scouting and analysis of their opposition to be at max preparation for their matches.

Whatever the reason, the GPL’s inaugural season will end at the start of December. Who will take the title? We’ve got plenty of time to analyze that, but congratulations to the teams who will vie for the crown.

Poker News Daily

PokerStars Announced as Global Poker League Sponsor

 PokerStars Announced as Global Poker League Sponsor

On Friday morning, Mediarex Sports and Entertainment announced that they had entered into a sponsorship deal with PokerStars, with the online poker industry’s largest site becoming the lead sponsor for Mediarex’s Global Poker League.

During the announcement of the new deal, the GPL’s Chief Executive Officer and the founder of the league Alexandre Dreyfus stated, “We are optimistic about this partnership, having the support of PokerStars is a crucial step forward on the road to fully establishing the GPL as a real blueprint for poker entertainment in the future. PokerStars offers us a multitude of opportunities to grow our platform and continue developing our two-fold strategy of connecting the League to the poker community and genuinely connecting poker to the mainstream entertainment sector on a large scale.” As a part of the sponsorship deal, poker fans will also see the emblem of PokerStars – the spade – emblazoned on the side of the GPL battlefield, “The Cube.”

For his part Eric Hollreiser, PokerStars’ Director of Corporate Communications, thought that the GPL was an innovation that will help the game overall. “The Global Poker League brings an innovative team-based twist to poker and we are happy to support Mediarex in their quest to bring poker to new audiences”, Hollreiser noted during the announcement.

The partnership between the two organizations seems to be a logical one. PokerStars is in the midst of transitioning to a more “recreational” mode of play for its customers and an expansion of the fan base of the game. The longstanding thought of the GPL was, at least according to Dreyfus, to “sportify” the game of poker and bring it to more casual fans instead of the hard core poker aficionado. With PokerStars on board, there is a huge potential for online promotions that can be done to bring players closer to the GPL product, perhaps in a manner of attending events for the GPL or actually playing in a sanctioned GPL event or on a GPL franchise.

But there could be a little bit of an issue with the signing. Many of the members of Team PokerStars Pro – including Las Vegas Moneymakers manager Chris Moneymaker, Hong Kong Stars manager Celina Lin, London Royals manager Liv Boeree and players Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier, Jason Mercier, Vanessa Selbst, Marc-Andre Ladouceur, Felipe Ramos, Randy Lew and Bryan Huang – are on the rosters of teams in the GPL, creating a bit of an incestuous relationship between the GPL and PokerStars already. Would the potential sponsorship of PokerStars have an impact if the GPL was to have to discipline one of the players in the future (at this time, the GPL has no bylaws on player conduct, but it is something that has been mentioned by Dreyfus that could occur in the future)? There is also the fact that PokerStars is already working with Mediarex on two of its other properties, the European Poker Awards and the American Poker Awards.

Critics have also pointed out that this might not be the best investment for PokerStars. Earlier this year, the parent company of the site, Amaya Gaming, announced wholesale changes to their VIP programs, essentially eviscerating them to the point that it wasn’t profitable for grinders to work the games. On Twitter Jason Mo commented, “Solid use of funds stolen from SNE (Supernova Elite) and Supernova players,” with fellow pro Melissa Burr adding in a point where she questioned Dreyfus about why players would take part in the GPL for minimal pay and was brushed off by Dreyfus saying, “It happened. Let’s move on.”

The GPL is holding to their appearance at TwitchCon 2016 this weekend, but it is much more neutered than it was expected to be just a couple of months ago. Instead of conducting their playoffs at the popular convention, the GPL has been reduced to having some players (no schedule has been announced) appear at their booth and, on Saturday at noon (Pacific Time) have Scott Ball of the Moneymakers and Thiago Nishijima of the Sao Paulo Metropolitans play and exhibition match on the GPL software from the floor of the convention (apparently “The Cube” will be unable to make the trip from Las Vegas to San Diego for the festivities).

Whether the partnership between PokerStars and the GPL improves the burgeoning league’s future is unknown. Aligning yourself with the #1 online poker site in the industry, however, is usually a recipe for good things.

Poker News Daily

Nationals, Wolverines atop The Standings as Global Poker League Resumes Play

 Nationals, Wolverines atop The Standings as Global Poker League Resumes Play

After a rather lengthy hiatus that saw more turmoil that surely planned, the Global Poker League has surged back into action with the second half of their season. While one conference’s leader seems to be pulling away from the pack, it looks to be at least a two-team battle in the other conference.

In the GPL Americas, the Montreal Nationals haven’t been able to shake the L. A. Sunset at the top of the leaderboard. With 153 points – by far the most in the GPL – the Nationals might have thought they would have a bigger lead. But the Sunset, led by manager Maria Ho and featuring the red-hot Fedor Holz, are only six points back after gaining on the Nats last week. Ho earned 10 points during Six Max Tuesday (two conference matches) and, along with three points earned by Olivier Busquet in the heads up match with the Nationals’ Marc Andre Ladouceur, cut five points off of Montreal’s lead.

The remainder of the GPL Americas is going to have its work cut out for it to even make the playoffs. Currently holding down the final two playoff spots are the Sao Paulo Metropolitans (after a slow start to the season) and the New York Rounders (who arguably dominated the first half of the season and suffered during the “Summer Series” in Las Vegas). Three points separate these teams, but they are 27 and 30 points, respectively, behind the Nationals in the standings. The San Francisco Rush (113 points) and the Las Vegas Moneymakers (100 points) might be in “wait ‘til next year” mode as they have tough odds of climbing out of the basement.

Over in the GPL Eurasia, the battle is a bit closer from top to bottom. The preseason favorite Moscow Wolverines, after a bit of a stumble out of the gate, are now reigning supreme over the rest of the conference with their 136 points. The Wolverines have been able to pull away from the London Royals, adding a point to their lead over the Royals (122 points) through eight points from Igor Yaroshevsky in the Six Max and a victory (six points) by manager Anatoly Filatov over the Paris Aviators’ George Danzer in the heads up segment.

Overall the six teams in the GPL Eurasia are closer together, meaning that there really hasn’t been anyone eliminated yet. The Hong Kong Stars (113 points) and the Aviators (111 points) are battling for the final two playoff spots, with the Rome Emperors (110 points) overcoming their early season doldrums to actually be in a challenging position. Even the team that arguably has been the biggest disappointment in the GPL this season, the Berlin Bears (if you have a team with Dan Cates, Sorel Mizzi, Brian Rast and Dominik Nitsche, just to name a few, you have to do better than 100 points) are still in the mix.

The upcoming week will feature some battles that could help to change some of the standings. After the four matches (two GPL Eurasia and two GPL Americas) that make up Six Max Tuesday, the Wolverines will attempt to put some more space between them and the Emperors (2:30PM Eastern U. S.), while the Royals will know what target they have to shoot at when they take on the Aviators later in the day (5PM Eastern). If the Bears are to make any moves, they have to start with a big win over a strong Stars team that will kick off the heads up fun on Wednesday (Noon Eastern).

In the GPL Americas, the Nationals/Rounders match (3:30PM Eastern) will be the highlight of Thursday’s play as, with a strong showing (a 9-0 sweep or even a 6-3 victory), the Nats can pretty much bury the Rounders and put them in danger of not making the playoffs. That, of course, will depend on the results of the Moneymakers/Metropolitans tilt (1PM Eastern) and the “Battle for California” between the Sunset and the Rush (6PM Eastern) on Thursday.

Counting the upcoming week, there are only five weeks remaining in the GPL season. Four teams from each conference will make the playoffs, so if a particular squad has an interest in playing in the postseason, the time to move is now. The teams at the top of the standings – provided they don’t suffer a complete collapse over the last few weeks – are pretty much guaranteed of a playoff spot at this time.

Poker News Daily

Global Poker League Moves Playoffs, World Championship To Las Vegas

 Global Poker League Moves Playoffs, World Championship To Las Vegas

When it was conceived, the Alexandre Dreyfus-driven Global Poker League looked as if it would be “The One” attempt at making poker more “sport-like” that survived when others failed. A recent announcement has cast some doubt on that, however, as the GPL looks to end its inaugural season on a high note.

According to Will Shillibier of, the GPL has decided to NOT hold their end of season playoffs – the matches that would determine the teams for the inaugural GPL World Championship – at TwitchCon 2016 in San Diego. That event, which begins on September 30 and ends on October 2, will instead be replaced with a “Meet, Greet & Play” event that will feature some of the stars of the GPL (no names have been announced at this time).

Dreyfus looks at the change as a chance to present the GPL to the eSports community, stating, “The GPL and Twitch are expanding their partnership to promote poker as an eSport. We are thrilled to expose (the GPL) to the largest eSport community and connect poker fans and GPL players. TwitchCon 2016 is the perfect spot to help make that happen and it is another step in our GPL Fan Engagement strategy of ‘Watch’Em, Play’Em, Shop’Em.”

This isn’t the only change that is occurring for the GPL. The original plan was for the GPL to hold its World Championship Event – where two teams from each conference would have played down to an eventual World Champion – at the SSE Arena at Wembley Stadium. This was supposed to have happened in November, but it has now been eliminated totally. All that Shillibier could find out about the cancelation of the date in London from SSE Arena personnel was that they “didn’t know what happened to the event.”

So where will the playoffs and the concluding World Championship be held? If you recall the Summer Series – where the teams in the GPL competed live from Las Vegas – then you’ve already got a look at what will be the stage come this fall. The “GPL Arena,” as it has been dubbed, will host both the playoffs and the World Championship, presumably under live circumstances and inside “The Cube,” which made its debut during the Summer Series.

Shillibier also had inside information from several surveys that were conducted by Mediarex, the company that Dreyfus owns that operates the GPL. The information from those surveys wasn’t exactly glowing of the product that the audience was seeing, stating in many cases that their level of desire to be a part of the GPL action was quite limited. The respondents stated that they didn’t want to buy GPL merchandise (58.8%), that they wouldn’t want to play a Fantasy Poker real money game using GPL players (43.2%) and that they wouldn’t want to bet real money on GPL matches (62.5%), among other items. Add in the factor that 66.7% of respondents to the survey said that they had heard of the GPL but a majority of those people had not watched it and the emergency beacons are blinking.

So what has been the problems? Rumors have it that moving their playing arena – “The Cube” – to Las Vegas for the Summer Series put a serious hurt on the bank accounts of the GPL, so much so that it couldn’t be transferred to San Diego for TwitchCon and then to London for the World Championship. There are also the issues with the monetization of the league, which Dreyfus has admitted previously was a significant problem. The bottom line, however, may have been the factor that the GPL is primarily an internet “thing” and not “live” poker, which many fans thought it was going to be and, after seeing that it was online poker being played, turned away from the product.

In a discussion with Poker News Daily, Dreyfus didn’t exactly open up about the reasons for the changes nor what the future would hold. “We are preparing a press release as we speak (that will address these issues),” Dreyfus stated (that press release has not been seen). Dreyfus also stated that there was more of a “long term” plan for the GPL rather than knee-jerk short term changes and that the priority was on “the digital passengers” (presumably meaning the online viewers and fans over the GPL Twitch account).

Even with the pleas continuing for patience and to wait for the GPL to mature, anyone can see there are some glaring problems with the program. What the effects will be after their restart on September 20 – a quick six-week burst of league matches that will determine the four participants from each conference who will compete in the playoffs that begin on November 29 – and the potential for a second season for the GPL will reflect how those problems are being handled.

Poker News Daily

Editorial: Fixes Needed for the Global Poker League to Succeed

 Editorial: Fixes Needed for the Global Poker League to Succeed

The Global Poker League is in a hiatus at this time, taking a break after finishing the first half of their inaugural season and their “Summer Series” during the run of the World Series of Poker. It’s certainly been an interesting run so far for GPL creator Alex Dreyfus’ pet program and it has seen its share of ups (getting “Breaking Bad” actor Aaron Paul on the L. A. Sunset and actually seeing him win an event in Las Vegas) and downs (early software glitches with the GPL poker client that were quickly fixed). There’s going to have to be more fixes made, however, if the GPL is going to succeed.

Dreyfus noted some of the problems the GPL has faced to this point and admitted the repairs were in the works. Such things as merchandising the league and its teams (something that still doesn’t exist) and putting more of an emphasis on the players are something that they should have done from the start. These types of things are paramount to getting people to care about your teams, your players and, by extension, the league; it’s your product, you have to be able to promote it and not just throw it out on the stage.

There is one perceived problem that Dreyfus is taking care of:  the headquarters for the organization. Previously all activities for the GPL were performed in Malta, but Dreyfus realized during the Summer Series that the headquarters needed to be in Las Vegas. As such, the GPL will be making its move to the studios that were constructed for the Summer Series and will be broadcasting from there in the future.

But there are other things that the GPL are doing that could use some work.

One of the biggest issues for the GPL has been its format of play. When it came to the actual play of the GPL schedule, many casual poker fans thought that it would be the players themselves physically sitting around a table and battling it out live for the fans’ entertainment. When it came out that the players were actually going to be playing online (as the GPL has technically done for their entire existence – more on this in a moment), the sneers from many in the chat room on Twitch and other commentary arenas was plainly heard. It is also possible that many, upon seeing that it was online poker and not physically live poker, never came back to view the GPL again.

Even with the Summer Series, the opportunity to actually bring some live play together in “The Cube” was missed. In this writer’s opinion, “The Cube” wasn’t the thrilling, groundbreaking experiment for poker that was expected. It was a Plexiglas box with some neon lights on the edges, not the “Thunderdome” of poker that many might have been expecting. Add in after that the players continued to play online – standing in front of a little monitor that contained the GPL poker client – and much of the buzz that was built for “The Cube” fizzled.

The solution for this one, fortunately, is pretty easy. For the regular season contests, the internet and online poker is the best format to handle the GPL schedule. With teams representing areas from Asia to the Americas (and players sometimes living in those far flung areas), it is completely illogical to have live matches for those segments of the season. But be upfront about it and tell the audience that they’re going to be seeing online poker, not some grand table set up in a room with some of poker’s biggest names physically seated around it. Those that want to watch the proceedings will be there with bells on and those that aren’t interested will find something else to take their time.

For the Summer Series – and the postseason – if you’re going to bring players out live, bring them to a physical table and ditch the computers. You want an audience to get into something? They’re going to have to see something other than two people staring at each other for a couple hours on end. The frenzied crowds that you see at e-Sports events (what Dreyfus has often said the response would be to action in “The Cube”) aren’t going to be freaking out about…two people looking fiercely at each other with their hands clasped or stroking their chins.

Furthermore, while the inter-conference play idea was outstanding (the first time it had been seen on the GPL), the heads up inter-conference matches weren’t the way to go. The proper way to do the inter-conference battles was to go with the Sit and Gos, taking three teams from the GPL Americas and three from the GPL Eurasia sitting down to the felt and battling it out. Once a week the GPL could have done this during the Summer Series, along with the heads up matches, and drawn in the viewers to watch the players live action decisions. That would have provided some excitement, especially if Fedor Holz of the San Francisco Rush or Jason Mercier of the New York Rounders – two players who were taking the WSOP by storm while the Summer Series was going on – were involved in the Six Max sit and gos and maybe even a heads up match.

As it sits now, the GPL is in a bit of limbo. A look at the website shows that there isn’t anything scheduled as to the second half of the season other than the World Championship in November, whereas previously it was stated that action would resume in August and now has it coming back in September with no dates included. Such indecision at this point shouldn’t be going on, even if it is your inaugural season.

Through it all, Dreyfus has asked the poker community to allow for the GPL to work out its kinks and get through its errors before judging the final product. That time is ticking, however, and some of the delays are a bit concerning. When the second half of the GPL season is complete and a champion is crowned in November, that will be the time to make some final determinations, but there’s always room to look at where you can improve.

Poker News Daily