Global Poker League Action Heats Up with Summer Series

Hey, remember the Global Poker League? The first portion of the regular season concluded before the start of the World Series of Poker, but while the poker world revolves around the WSOP this summer, that’s still not the only game in town. The Global Poker League took a break for a week, but is now in the midst of its Summer Series, featuring live, heads-up, interconference matches. After all, most of the players are in Las Vegas for the WSOP, anyway, so might as well have them meet up for some games.

The Summer Series is also the first time fans are seeing THE CUBE, the ever-hyped, square-cornered, prismatic fish bowl in which the matches are taking place. The Cube is tinted blue, designed so that the players can only see and hear what is going on inside the enclosure. Fans and television cameras, though, can still see inside. Of course, the players are also mic’ed up so we can hear their conversations.

There is no live dealer inside The Cube. Rather, the game is played in an all-electronic format. Each player stands the entire time in front of a raised tablet. This tablet displays the players’ hole cards and game information and is the vehicle by which players input their betting decisions. In between the players are monitors that show the community cards. Thus, the setup is like a truncated electronic version of a real table. Players have a spot in front of them for their cards and virtual chips, along with an area in the middle for the board. As an added bit of security, the virtual hole cards are dealt face down and can only be revealed if the player swipes over them or presses a button on their personal screen. Not that players would ever get away with walking around to sneak a peek at their opponents’ cards, but it’s a solid feature that is worth having.

Two weeks – or Heats I and II – are already in the books and while the action was plentiful, the no-brainer highlight of the Summer Series so far has been the Global Poker League debut of three-time Emmy Award-winning actor, Aaron Paul. Paul has been in a number of films and is currently filming his second season of the Hulu show, “The Path,” but virtually all small-screen buffs will know him best for his years as Jesse Pinkman on the AMC series, “Breaking Bad.” Paul was selected by LA Sunset manager Maria Ho as a Wild Card.

Aaron Paul ponders his move during his first GPL match. Image credit: @aaronpaul_8 on Twitter

Aaron Paul ponders his move during his first GPL match.
Image credit: @aaronpaul_8 on Twitter

Paul squared off against Paris Aviators manager Fabrice Soulier in the very first match in The Cube, which was also the first time teams from opposite conferences faced off (LA Sunset is in the Americas Conference and Paris Aviators is in the Eurasia Conference). Prior to the contest, Paul spoke briefly with GPL on-air host Laura Cornelius. Naturally, she asked him how he got into poker.

“I’ve been playing cards my whole life, but really started taking poker very seriously maybe about twelve, thirteen years ago,” he said. “I would NOT consider myself a professional poker player whatsoever, but I love the game, I play the game probably far too much….”

It was a very brief interview, but Paul added, “This is absolutely a sporting event. I really respect poker and it’s cool that audiences are able to see the players cards live in person….”

London Royals manager Liv Boeree was a guest at the commentator’s desk and she said that Soulier has a lot of pressure on him to at least take two out of three games from Paul, since Soulier is a poker pro and Paul is not. Maybe the pressure got to him, maybe short term luck won out, but either way, Aaron Paul was the one who took two of three games from Soulier, earning six points for the LA Sunset.

Aside from being live instead of online, the Summer Series is structured just like the internet heads-up matches of the regular season. Each player is given a 20-minute game clock (the GPL website says 18, but it was 20 on the broadcast) which ticks down while it is their turn to make a decision. If a player drains the entire game clock, he is put into “Hot Seat” mode, wherein he only has four seconds per action from there on out. Like in the regular season, players get three points per win for a maximum of nine per match.

There were a surprising number of clean sweeps in the first two Summer Series heats. Martin Jacobson of the Montreal Nationals and Felipe Ramos of the Sao Paolo Mets each grabbed all nine points in Heat I, while in Heat II, Sao Paolo got another sweep from Thaigo Nishijima, the Hong Kong Stars’ Randy Lew (who made amends for getting swept in Heat I), and Fedor Holz  for the Sunset.

With two heats completed, Montreal still leads the Americas Conference with 118 points, followed by LA with 110 and Sao Paolo with 100. There is nearly a three-way tie for first in the Eurasia Conference, as the Moscow Wolverines have 101 points and both London and Hong Kong have 100.

GPL Summer Series Heat 1 Results

LA Sunset (Aaron Paul) 6, Paris Aviators (Fabrice Soulier) 3
San Francisco Rush (Jonathan Jaffe) 6, Moscow Wolverines (Dzmitry Urbanovich) 3
Las Vegas Moneymakers (Scott Ball) 6, London Royals (Chris Moorman) 3
Montreal Nationals (Martin Jacobson) 9, Hong Kong Stars (Randy Lew) 0
Sao Paolo Mets (Felipe Ramos) 9, Berlin Bears (Jeff Gross) 0
New York Rounders (Kevin MacPhee) 6, Rome Emperors (Timothy Adams) 3

GPL Summer Series Heat 1 Results

Las Vegas Moneymakers (Jonathan Little) 6, Paris Aviators (Mike Leah) 3
Moscow Wolverines (Igor Yaroshevckiy) 6, Montreal Nationals (Marc-Andre Ladouceur) 3
Sao Paolo Mets (Thiago Nishijima) 9, London Royals (Justin Bonomo) 0
Hong Kong Stars (Randy Lew) 9, New York Rounders (Jason Wheeler) 0
LA Sunset (Fedor Holz) 9, Berlin Bears (Sorel Mizzi) 0
Rome Emperors (Timothy Adams) 6, San Francisco Rush (Phil Galfond) 3

Global Poker League Standings

Americas Conference

Montreal Nationals – 118 points
LA Sunset – 110 points
Sao Paolo Mets – 100 points
New York Rounders – 93 points
San Francisco Rush – 78 points
Las Vegas Moneymakers – 77 points

Eurasia Conference

Moscow Wolverines – 101 points
London Royals – 100 points
Hong Kong Stars – 100 points
Paris Aviators – 92 points
Berlin Bears – 74 points
Rome Emperors – 72 points


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