Human beings are voyeurs.
It’s why reality TV works so well.
We like watching people picking their nose, hosing off the daily grime and sitting on the throne, reading their favorite book, knickers around their ankles.
How do our lives compare to the lives of others? It’s Facebook on crack. It’s why millions of people tune into these types of shows annually. It’s why Katrina Lim wants to make a reality TV show about poker called Girl Got Game.
Who makes up the original Girl Got Game team and what is your relationship with poker?
“The Girl Got Game Executive team comprises of VAMN-TV CEO and Executive Producer, Dominique Thieu, and Series Creator and Executive Producer, Katrina Lim.
“Dominique came from a legal background and started her television network two years ago. She does not have a poker background at all and thus approached me almost two years ago asking to create a poker-themed show. At the time, I was living in Las Vegas and playing professionally full-time, so I didn’t focus on anything else. I wanted to live the grinder lifestyle alongside my friends and enjoy the freedom and flexibility poker provided. I was having a blast playing poker and frequenting all my favorite restaurants. Little did I know that variance would become my worst enemy, not complex carbohydrates.
“I realized the swings in poker can be quite stressful, and my conservative nature was not used to the roller coaster ride. After working in Corporate America for 12 years, I was ready to jump out of my cubicle and be my own boss. It was an exciting risk I knew I would not regret, so I definitely had to try the full-time poker pro gig.
“I always kept Dominique’s offer in mind, though, to create a poker show for her network and she would check in with me every couple of months. Then one day at lunch with Sofia Lovgren, we brainstormed on potential ideas for a poker-themed show. Sofia mentioned she always thought of traveling the world playing cash games with friends and wanted to document it. Thus, an idea was born and only until this past July did I finally decide to sit my ass down and seriously take the time to write out the entire concept for Dominique and the network. So now the three of us, as Producers, handle all aspects of Pre-Production and Marketing for Season 1.”
What makes poker so compelling as a reality TV show?
“It’s always a thrill for me to think that one can actually make a great living playing a game. Many don’t know this, so I want to show the world that there really are people out there (my friends) that do this year round. There are still misconceptions out there too. I want people to understand that not all poker players are out-of-shape cigar smoking old bald men. And for those that can play poker well, the game can bring great opportunity and be quite lucrative as one pot can be worth more than a month’s salary of sitting in a cubicle for Corporate America.”
What’s the brainstorming process from a germ of an idea to shooting?
“When I first thought of the television concept, I knew I had to think from the audience viewpoint mixed with what I felt the network wanted. Although I want to entertain the audience, I also needed to convince the network that the show is even worth producing. What’s paramount to me is showing respect for the game, thus, I knew I had first to find phenomenal and well-respected players within the industry itself. So once I thought of a core group of players for the cast, I wanted to make sure that the cast would also be interesting to watch away from the table. Girl Got Game not only focuses on poker but will also feature the players on a daily basis when they’re not competing against each other. So now that I have my cast, I’ve been going through rewrites of each episode for the film crew as we’re now in pre-production.”
Why did you choose women?
“I chose women because we are so underrepresented in the industry. I want the show to introduce more women to the game and hopefully, inspire them to learn the game and even get good enough to compete. I feel many women out there are interested in poker but still feel intimidated to approach the table knowing they may be the only woman playing. Poker is a skill game, so the more you have of it, the better chance you can thrive at it in the long term, and we gals have all the qualities, if not more than the guys to play and be successful at it. So give it a go, ladies!”
Talk through the process of how you decided to choose the participants?
“The first requirement is skill. My entire cast has game and can play well. I believe I have a very strong competitive lineup. Secondly, I have eight distinct personalities from very different backgrounds. This is a huge advantage of having an all international cast. All eight ladies come from all over the globe and I’m excited to see their cultures mix. They’re all very different, but what’s cool is we all have that one thing in common: poker.”
Was there anyone who turned you down and why?
“No one turned me down because everyone I approached eventually said yes. Danielle [Moon-Andersen] was my hardest gal to get onboard, and understandably so since she was involved in a production before. It took me a few attempts to convince her after some great food and drinks. She also told me her husband said she should do the show too, so I owe Kory Andersen a nice dinner as well.
“I really wanted Danielle because she is my only cast member who is married and has a son. I really want to focus on the diversity of my cast too. I promised the gals that our production would only show poker and the cast in a positive light. We’re not here to create drama or nonsense; thus, we call ourselves a documentary-reality show. I will also be working closely with our Editing team to ensure this. I am very protective of my cast since many of them are friends and knowing that they are, in turn, trusting and allowing me to document their lives; I owe them a quality production to say the least.”
How will the show work on a week by week basis?
“We will air starting in mid-April, 12 weeks leading up to the 2016 WSOP Main Event. Productions do not shoot each week. However, ours is unique in the sense that our filming is broken up in Feb, May, and July since we have different locations and need to coincide with the WSOP.”
Where do you draw your inspiration?
“From my poker playing friends themselves. This is why I want to have this show. I love watching them play poker and talking about hand histories. It can also be funny to me because they’re so consumed with poker, that they can talk about hands for hours anytime and in any place. Their love and dedication for the game is quite impressive. That’s why it’s no surprise to me that they do so well. I love to see how they handle variance too. It’s easy to see them go through the good times, but it can really kill me to watch them go through the tough times. That’s when I have so much respect for them. To see their resilience, motivation, and passion for the game is so inspiring for me because no matter what they stay positive!”
What are the great things other poker shows have done in the past?
“Poker shows have done a great job in highlighting and featuring players. I want my show to do the same, but give the lesser known players an opportunity to receive some recognition. Some of my cast are complete unknowns yet they’ve been playing poker for years and do very well too. This is their chance to shine now. There are so many awesome players out there that we’ve never heard of because they only play cash games, not tournaments. Cash games are the bread and butter for professional players, so I feel they deserve the spotlight just as much as tourney winners, if not more.”
What are the not so good things that poker shows have done in the past?
“Past poker shows have focused on the big buy-in and high stakes. The majority of recreational and professional players will probably never have the chance to play high stakes, but it doesn’t mean that playing lower stakes is less interesting. After all, we all had to start at low stakes at some point. Past shows tend to focus more on the money and prize pools, thus glamorizing the game too much. We want to focus more on the players, their different playing styles, and their daily lives. We feel showing the gals playing at the same or similar stakes most pros and recreational players do play at will allow them to relate more with the cast.”
Where will people be able to see the show?
“We will be streaming on the VAMN-TV platform starting in mid-April, and we are aiming to first broadcast in each cast member’s home country (where allowed) which will include France, Sweden, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, Taiwan, and the USA. I cannot give details as this specific contract hasn’t been finalized yet, but I am thrilled to report that we will also be streaming soon in China. As poker’s popularity continues to soar in Asia, the Executive team believes, strategically, this is the perfect time to showcase Girl Got Game.”
What are the plans for the future?
“Well, I have received the green light to create at least three seasons of Girl Got Game, so this is very promising. I actually already started planning Season 2 although we haven’t even started shooting Season 1 yet, ha! All I know is each new season will have to be bigger and better, so my creative team never rests. Luckily, they all like me.”