The Global Poker League just wrapped its Summer Series and is now on a break for at least one month. The schedule shows that the action will return on August 16, but CEO Alex Dreyfus noted in a blog post that there will be some changes announced toward the end of August, and the GPL website says Season 1 is set to return in September. For now, it seems, the return date is to be determined.
The inaugural season of the GPL kicked off in April with eight weeks of action, each week containing four six-max tournaments and six heads-up matches. All of that poker was played online, with commentators and hosts broadcasting live on Twitch from the home studio in Malta. A few weeks later, the Summer Series then ran for six weeks on an irregular schedule, with all matches played online but in a live setting. The Cube was introduced for those games hosted in the new Las Vegas studio.
Before we look at what might be in store for the second half of the season, let’s take a look back.
Where They’ve Been
When the GPL first launched, there were some technical glitches. The newness of the league made it interesting, and many players and fans tuned in to get a glimpse at the poker play of some of the best players in the world. And when the player cams were introduced to allow the audience to hear the thoughts of the players themselves, it became even more entertaining for true fans of the game.
The Cube in Las Vegas brought an entirely new dynamic to the GPL games, with fans able to see the players live and interacting with each other. The Cube became a reality, and some fans were even able to obtain free tickets to watch the games live in the studio, located just off the Las Vegas Strip. Fans were given even more insight into the action as some of the team members took opportunities to join Eric Danis and Joe Stapleton for commentary.
And of course, one of the highlights of the summer was seeing actor Aaron Paul visit the Cube, make his GPL debut, and bring a new vibe to the series.
According to Dreyfus, the GPL has already produced more than 250 hours of content since its launch, and more than half a million unique viewers have tuned in to the online broadcasts. Those are impressive numbers for a new poker format and player/fan experience.
Changes in Process
Dreyfus’ end-of-summer blog post noted some significant changes for the next half of the season. “Las Vegas is set to become our central headquarters for the GPL moving forward in order to be closer to the largest poker market in the world, not to mention one of the most promising in upcoming years with online poker regulation in California and New York progressing swiftly after having passed a number of key legislative steps in recent weeks,” he wrote.
In addition to moving the headquarters from Malta to Vegas, Dreyfus also noted other changes, such as getting the mobile app up and running and available, highlighting more statistics from the games, and offering GPL merchandise for fans to purchase online.
In this author’s opinion, the merchandising aspect would have been beneficial during the Summer Series, especially if jerseys and such would have been available at the GPL booth in the hallways of the Rio during the World Series of Poker. In addition, fans generally only found out about free tickets to Cube matches via Twitter, and they had to email in order to reserve spots. A more fan-inclusive way to draw a studio audience would have been to offer tickets at the GPL booth at the Rio and possibly even offer transportation to and from the studio. An in-person connection between GPL staff, players, and fans is impactful and becomes a lasting memory.
Dreyfus noted that the players and their personalities have not been highlighted as much as he hoped, so he plans to focus more on the players and connecting with the fans going forward. There will also be a better web portal and possible partnerships with social and real-money online poker operators.
Ever the entrepreneur and innovator, Dreyfus explained that his motto is simple: We try, we fail, and we fix.
It might also be beneficial to open an online suggestion box of sorts to take feedback from poker fans and players who very much want the GPL to not only succeed but thrive and breathe new energy into the game. A true fan-friendly poker revolution requires the input of said fans. And when they feel that they are not only viewers but a valued part of the entire experience, everyone wins.