Monday, March 02, 2015

Community Building at the APA

Definitely followed with interest all of the reports from that American Poker Conference and American Poker Awards from last Friday in Los Angeles. Hard to find anyone who participated in either having anything but positive things to say.

The conference appeared especially intriguing, with a day-long schedule of sessions that reminded me a little of my days as a graduate student traveling to conferences where I’d deliver papers and listen to others’.

The sessions covered an interesting variety of topics, including poker media and marketing, technology, social media, strategies to grow live poker, the current and future state of online poker (with a special session about the situation in the U.S.), and a players’ panel.

The tweets were interesting to follow, and I read a few articles summarizing some of what was said, but afterwards I thought how the whole conference would have been interesting to see online either streaming live or archived to watch later. (Donnie Peters wrote a good recap of the day over at PokerNews today that included some suggestions, and that might be another I’d add.)

The awards dinner sounded like a fun time as well. I had a chance to attend the European version of that ceremony in Deauville once, and so know a little how such things go as well as how the process of highlighting certain individuals in that way can strengthen the community as a whole. And of course I was glad for friends and colleagues whose work was being recognized.

Unlike with the conference, there was no shortage of video from the awards ceremony, and I enjoyed watching some of the presentations and acceptance speeches. Here’s a full highlight reel, if you’re curious.

Following it all in pieces as I did from the other side of the continent, the collective message emanating from the SLS Hotel seemed to be not just a well intentioned plea to grow the game, but an effective, constructive means to accomplish that goal with tangible plans and the creation of genuine incentives for doing so.

Those academic conferences I’d go to were mostly pretty positive experiences. It was always satisfying to present work and get feedback (especially when it was positive), and usually hearing what others were up to was inspiring, too. The best part, though, was meeting new people with common interests and goals, and feeling like there really was a community out there of which I was a part.

Poker does this in little ways all the time, but we don’t always notice. Heck, any time a group convenes to play the game it resembles in miniature a kind of conference the subtext of which is the livelihood of poker itself. Nice job by Alex Dreyfus and the GPI to make something like that happen in a grander, more conscious way.

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