Tuesday, April 19, 2016

GPL Moves Into Third Week

Was busy for much of yesterday although by late afternoon I was able to switch on the Global Poker League and watch the 6-max matches go by.

They’ve now introduced webcams for those (a couple of players at a time) as well as some “postgame” interviews with players, all of which adds considerably to what would otherwise be a fairly dry watch of an online sit-n-go. I also feel like there’s something genuinely interesting -- and perhaps even unique -- when it comes to the players’ attempts at analyzing hands on the fly.

I’ve never much gotten into watching the single-player streams on Twitch in which a player tries to do what he or she can to engage an audience, and perhaps offer some strategy advice along the way. Many of those often seem to be “about” cheering for a player to go deeper in a tournament or build a stack on a cash table, which can be interesting if you care about the player but otherwise is not terribly compelling.

Meanwhile on the GPL streams players are perhaps in a bit more vulnerable position when it comes to offering on-the-fly analysis. For one thing, viewers can see everyone’s hole cards (whereas the player obviously cannot), a big distinction from the Twitch streams in which those watching can only see the channel host’s cards. Thus we hear the player talking through decisions knowing whether or not his or her reads of others’ ranges are accurate, which in turn gives us a better idea how such decision-making works (or doesn’t).

I think also there’s much less of an “us-versus-them” feel to the GPL streams as opposed to other poker streams on Twitch. Sure, we might well have a rooting interest, and curiosity about outcomes and who wins and who loses also obviously motivates a person to watch. But I’m finding my attention shifting a lot as I follow the different players’ thoughts about the hands their playing, occasionally expressed by multiple players within the same hand.

The last couple of matches today (involving the “Americas Conference”) were fun, too, thanks in part to Tyler Kenney (Bryn’s brother) and Felipe “Mojave” Ramos both getting to heads-up and splitting the victories.

Both players were “wild cards” added to their respective teams (the New York Rounders for Kenney and the São Paulo Metropolitans for Ramos), and both were clearly very excited to do well in their GPL debuts. They both tended toward the “fit-or-fold” style of play (as noted by commentator Sam Grafton along the way), which I think many of us who consider ourselves recreational players also often employ, adding perhaps another layer of interest to following their progress.

The excitement level varies quite a bit, of course, with these GPL shows, and I’ll admit during certain stretches finding myself wandering away when it fails to engage. But I do think there’s something genuinely different about the shows compared to other poker TV, and so for now -- while the novelty remains fresh, anyway -- I’m continuing to dial them up.

Image: Global Poker League.

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