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  1. [CAPTION=100%]The GPL schedule includes the finals in London this November.[/CAPTION] The Global Poker League is one of the most ambitious poker initiatives launched this year. With the inaugural season kicking off in less than a week, organizers announced the full schedule of events, which includes 15 game weeks, 400+ hours of live streamed content and a two-day final held at The SSE Arena in London at Wembley. Poker fans will enjoy six months of battles between the league’s 12 teams, with the first live matches taking place on Tuesday, April 5. The season wraps up with a playoff event in North America and culminates with the GPL Finals on November 22-23. The league hopes to capture the attention of some of the world’s 100 million poker fans by streaming events live on Twitch and on GPL.TV. "While there is a huge existing fan base for poker, it is largely fragmented because of the isolated nature of existing poker initiatives," said GPL founder Alex Dreyfus. "GPL has an aggressive vision to build new storylines and narratives to engage poker fans with the poker stars playing in the league." Season one will unfold in the following four phases: GPL Regular Season: (April 5-September 22) Matches will be held every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as to not compete with the big weekend games. The contests will be accompanied by an eSports style broadcast, with competitive online matches played out on GPL’s game platform. GPL Summer Series: (June 6-July 8) This phase includes 33 days of heads-up contests filmed live at GPL’s Las Vegas studio. GPL Playoffs: (TBD) The league plays down to four places before heading to the finals. GPL Finals: (November 22-23) The first ever GPL Finals play out live at the SSE Arena in Wembley. The GPL chose Wembley as its final destination due to London’s international flavor and gaming-friendly setting. "London gives us the opportunity to build a fully immersive, interactive experience for the GPL Finals thanks to its regulated online sports betting environment," Dreyfus said. "We are going to connect fans with one another as well as the GPL players at a leading entertainment venue. The experience is more than just 'sit and watch' – it's full engagement." Poker presenter and London Royals manager Liv Boeree was equally excited about the location of the finals. "The SSE Arena has so many great memories for me with all the gigs I’ve seen there, so I’m absolutely chuffed that poker is the first eSports spectator event that will be hosted at this awesome venue," she said. Dreyfus created the league after noticing what he believed was a decline in poker entertainment, while at the same time watching the dynamic eSports industry explode. By "shaking up" the game with innovations like The Cube, a soundproof glass box where players will face off in front of a live audience, Dreyfus believes that the game can experience a new surge of popularity. Tickets for GPL events go on sale in May, with exact dates announced in the near future. You can see the full schedule of events here.
  2. [caption width="640"] Jeffrey 'Sjow’ Brusi (left), Janne 'Savjz' Mikkonen (center) and Dario 'TLO' Wünsch (right) are part of eSports franchise Team Liquid that will be working with PokerStars.[/caption] With the skill set needed to beat both online poker and strategy-based video games largely the same, it’s no surprise that players on both sides have crossed over and had success in both of the two industries. Now, PokerStars is further solidifying that connection, announcing today a sponsorship deal with leading eSports organization Team Liquid. As part of the deal, three of the eSports teams’ most popular Twitch streamers will add poker into their repertoire, and attend live tournaments like the European Poker Tour. The gamers will also test new PokerStars products like Knockout Poker and battle in some of the site’s biggest online tournaments. The three Team Liquid members involved are Jeffrey 'Sjow’ Brusi of Sweden, Janne 'Savjz' Mikkonen of Finland, and Germany’s Dario 'TLO' Wünsch. The trio is recognized as some of the world’s most fearsome Hearthstone and StarCraft players. While they are most known for their play in the eSports industry, they won’t be going into poker tournaments completely blind. Both Brusi and Mikkonen have some poker experience and expressed excitement in getting back to the game. "I’m happy to announce that I’ll be streaming poker under the PokerStars flag," said Brusi in a press release. "I used to play a lot before I started my eSports career and it’s a very interesting and complex game. If you want to see an old poker player re-learn the game, tune into my stream." Mikkonen, who has several Hearthstone titles to his name, said he was no stranger to the game and called PokerStars “the most respected and reliable company in (the online poker) business." Wünsch, who recently made the Top 8 at DreamHack Leipzig, is the only one of the three who has little to no experience with online poker. But there is little doubt that he will learn quickly. "Poker and StarCraft have always been two scenes very close to each other," Wünsch said. "Both are games of incomplete information with incredibly high skill feelings. I’m looking forward to try myself out in poker and viewers will be able to see me learn the game as a total amateur on my Twitch channel." On the flipside, several pro poker players have taken an interest in eSports gaming. Daniel Negreanu is a self-professed Hearthstone addict, and plays the game for several hours a week. Team Liquid member Bertrand ‘Elky’ Grospellier, formally a pro StarCraft gamer, signed his own deal with the organization last November. The two poker pros faced off in an exhibition game late last year at videogame expo BlizzCon. As part of the agreement, Team PokerStars Pros will make an appearance on the three gamers’ Twitch streams. Lex Veldhuis and Randy ‘nanonoko’ Lew, both of whom played StarCraft and Street Fighter at a professional level before discovering poker, are a few of the pros that will stop by and give advice to the Team Liquid gamers. Veldhuis, also signed sit Team Liquid, said that even as a poker pro, he never lost his passion for gaming. "I’m an avid eSports fan, participating in Team Liquid forums and following the StarCraft and Dota 2 scenes closely," he said. “The sponsorship deal is an awesome way to show online gamers how closely related poker is and how they can apply deep-level thinking and strategy to another hugely popular game.” You can catch all the action on the above Team Liquid members here: Savjz: https://www.twitch.tv/savjz Sjow: https://www.twitch.tv/sjow TLO: https://www.twitch.tv/liquidtlo
  3. [caption width="640"] Randy Lew earned a full nine points for the Hong Kong Stars this week.[/caption] It was a week of sweeps in Heat II of the cross conference Global Poker League Summer Series from the Cube in Las Vegas. Players are seemingly getting used to the feel of playing in the venue, and fans are warming to the concept of standing play inside of the Cube. Las Vegas Moneymakers (Jonathan Little) defeat Paris Aviators (Mike Leah) 2-1 In the first of a double header of matches in the second week of cross conference competition, Jonathan Little was hoping to overtake the San Francisco Rush at the bottom of the Americas Conference. After a failed hero call by Mike Leah with pocket eights against Little’s kings, Leah lost the opening match, but stormed back to win the second when he rivered a straight, with the same card giving Little two pair. There was a fast start to the third game, with the Las Vegas Moneymakers eventually securing the win. Montreal Nationals (Marc-Andre Ladouceur) defeat Moscow Wolverines (Igor Yaroshevsky) 2-1 The second match saw the leaders of the Americas Conference taking on the Moscow Wolverines. Marc-Andre Ladouceur was looking to reestablish their lead at the top of the conference, after the Las Vegas Moneymakers closed the gap in the earlier game. Despite Igor Yaroshevsky winning the opening game, Ladouceur rallied to win the second two, and maintain their position atop the Americas conference. Sao Paulo Metropolitans (Thiago Nishijima) defeat London Royals (Justin Bonomo) 3-0 Justin Bonomo finished second for a WSOP bracelet earlier in the week and was looking to put that ghost to rest here in this match. However, it was not to be, with Thiago Nishijima putting in an outstanding performance, winning all three matches, including house over house in the second, to close the gap to second place LA Sunset. The Royals failed to take advantage of the Wolverines’ defeat the previous day. Hong Kong Stars (Randy Lew) defeat New York Rounders (Jason Wheeler) 3-0 Randy Lew’s performance last week in the Cube was disastrous, as he was swept by 2014 WSOP Main Event Champion Martin Jacobson. This week he rebounded though to sweet Jason Wheeler 3-0. The first match was over within two hands, and this sweep was the first win by a Eurasian Conference side in the Summer Series so far. The Hong Kong Stars drew level with the London Royals in their conference with this result. LA Sunset (Fedor Holz) defeat Berlin Bears (Sorel Mizzi) 3-0 Fedor Holz was up against the Berlin Bears’ Sorel Mizzi, no stranger to fighting one-on-one with another player after his MMA antics earlier this year. It was Holz’s aggression which held sway in this match, outperforming Mizzi in each match until he emerged as a 3-0 winner. The LA Sunset cut the gap to first by three points in the Americas conference. Rome Emperors (Timothy Adams) defeat San Francisco Rush (Phil Galfond) 2-1 The final match of the week saw the Rome Emperors take on the San Francisco Rush. Both teams are struggling in their respective conferences, and it was a real battle for both players. Timothy Adams won both the first and second games of this match, and Phil Galfond was lucky to avoid a sweep as he took at least three points from this match by winning the third match. The Rome Emperors closed the gap to the Berlin Bears at the bottom of their conference to two points, as the San Francisco Rush were overtaken by the Las Vegas Moneymakers in theirs. MVP Randy Lew’s performance last week was below the standard of which the GPL audience has grown accustomed to, and this week he showed why he should still be considered one of the top players in the league, by dispatching Jason Wheeler 3-0. The Week Ahead The Eurasian Teams will be trying to improve on the 2/12 record they have from the cross conference matches so far. There will be a top meets top clash between the Montreal Nationals and the London Royals to see who will come out on top there. Meanwhile LA Sunset will look to keep the pressure on the Nationals as they face off against struggling Rome Emperors. Week 3 Summer Series Schedule Moscow Wolverines vs. Las Vegas Moneymakers Sau Paulo Metropolitans vs. Hong Kong Stars (double-header) New York Rounders vs. Berlin Bears LA Sunset vs. Rome Emperors San Francisco Rush vs. Paris Aviators
  4. [caption width="640"] Maria Ho is now front and center in the eSports world after signing on with Amazon as part of their coverage of the booming industry.[/caption] With more than $2 million in live earnings, multiple World Series Of Poker final tables, online poker titles, and a bustling broadcasting career, Maria Ho has been very busy throughout her time in the poker spotlight. But now, having agreed to a new partnership with Amazon that will see her present the online retail giant’s Mobile Masters eSports events, she’ll be branching out in front of a whole new audience. “When I was contacted by Amazon with this opportunity for their mobile eSports brand and the events they had planned throughout the year, it seemed like a no-brainer,” Ho says. “Obviously they’re an amazing brand to be a part of, but it also ties in with everything that I’ve done in the past 10 years in poker.” Ho’s hosting duties with Amazon put her front and center during a series of invitational tournaments comprised of top players and streamers competing across Com2uS' Summoners War, Blizzard's Hearthstone and Super Evil Megacorp's Vainglory. Players battle for a share of the $65K prize pool, with $25K going to the winner of the Summoners War and Vainglory events, and $15K set aside for the Hearthstone champ. “I know what it’s like to compete on these big stages, and now eSports have become this big stage, and there’s a lot of money they’re playing for. So I like taking some of the similarities between my experience with poker, to start bridging the gap for people in the eSports world.” Ho acts as on-screen host, interviewing players before and after matches. The first event in New Jersey (June 23-24) was a big success, and the next event takes place in Los Angeles in August. “It was great,” she says. “I’m a bit of a recreational gamer; growing up I was always into video games. Obviously a lot of people watching are hardcore gamers, but there are also plenty of people watching who might not know the games too well, but they can understand the competition aspect of it, and I think that’s what I’m there for. “Amazon has just given me a really good opportunity to be a part of that and the eSports world is definitely something that I’d like to get more into.” Ho has already had plenty of experience in front of the cameras, having done strategic commentary and hosting duties for shows like Heartland Poker Tour and PokerGo’s Super High Roller Bowl. But when it comes to time away from the poker tables, Ho thinks it’ll be learning the eSports games that will prove to be her biggest poker distraction. “That’s the funny thing; it’s not going to be hard balancing hosting with poker, but more that I want to become more knowledgable and immerse myself in the eSports world, and I think that will mean more time away from poker. But I’m actually looking forward to doing that because I’m really interested in these games. I’ll never be as good as the people that started playing these games with similar hours to those I put into poker, but I want to get more of a feel for what it’s like for these gamers so I can relate and connect to them more.” Ho is currently in Las Vegas grinding the WSOP. She has six cashes to her name so far, including a deep run in the Marathon event. But for a player like Ho, who can play all the games and thus has fired in a large number of events, that still equates to being down on the summer. “Unfortunately a lot of my favorite events have already passed,” she says. “Like, the $10K Dealer’s Choiceis definitely one of my favorite events outside of the Main Event. I haven’t been able to much [of the mixed-games] this year because I keep getting deep in the No Limit Hold’em events.” The biggest No Limit Hold’em event of them all is of course the Main Event, and it’s an event that Ho has proved rather astute in. After finishing 38th back in 2007 for $237K, she has since placed 322nd (2012), 77th (2014), and 242nd (2016). What is it about this event that suits her game so well? “I think it’s a combination of being more comfortable playing a deeper slower structure, and also knowing how to navigate big fields,” she says. “Obviously, there’s a high number of recreational players in events like the Main and the Marathon, because they really want to get their value. And I think I have a very good strategy against recreational players who aren’t very comfortable playing with a deep stack structure.” And finally, with so much going on, will Ho have time for some online poker throughout the rest of 2017? “I don’t play online as much as I used to,” she says. “I relocated to Vancouver back after Black Friday, but I recently moved back to LA, so that’s my home-base now. I will travel to Vancouver or to Mexico for an online poker series though. “When the WSOP is over I have a pretty full schedule. After the LA Mobile Masters event I’ll be at Winstar, which is a casino I’m a spokesperson for, and they have a great tournament series every September called The River. From there I have a new poker show which I’ll be doing strategic commentary for, but that hasn’t been announced yet. So I’ll be filming those, and then with my partnership with Amazon we’ll actually be filming some of the eSports competitions for a TV show. “So the rest of my year is more heavily leant on the broadcasting side of things, but that’s also why I’m really enjoying my time here in Vegas because this is probably going to be the only time I have where I can just focus on poker.”
  5. [caption width="640"] PokerStars PowerUp hopes to add a new dimention of strategy to the classic poker game.[/caption] PokerStars' new variant on the game of poker, Power Up, is back up and running in the PokerStars lobby giving players a whole new set of strategies to employ in order to take the game of Hold’em to the next level. The new game format takes the basics of No Limit Hold’em and tosses in game-changing power cards that allow players to impact the hand in ways never before possible. In a recent Q&A with a number of Team PokerStars Online Pros, Felix ‘xflixx’ Schneiders, Randy ‘nanonoko’ Lew and Kevin Martin talked about their hopes for the game as well as their favorite powers and strategies to become a beast at the three-handed Power Up Sit & Gos. “I love the way X-Ray messes with everyone’s head,” Team Pro Schneiders said in reference to the card that allows a player to expose one hole card from each opponent. “Once the cards are exposed you can start to really step up and level the game to new dimensions.” X-ray is one of nine powers that in play. At the start of each Sit & Go players are gifted randomly with three power cards to try and help them navigate the hands. At the beginning of each hand as the tournament progresses, cards are replenished as they are used. Schneider continues regarding the X-ray card, “It will be fun to run elaborate bluffs or going for value with that extra piece of information while knowing that your opponent things that you think that…” Another one of the powers is Disintegrate, the ability to literally erase a card on the board changing the entire board texture and, if used properly, diminish the strength of your opponent's hand. “Disintegrate is going to be the most creative and interesting card in PowerUp,” online mainstay Randy ’nanonoko’ Lew said. “I can’t wait to destroy people’s flush draws and top pairs and ruin their strategy.” Fellow Online Pro and Twitch streamer, Kevin Martin agrees with Lew. “My favorite power is Disintegrate. You can take cards that are great for your opponent’s range and get them off the table.” The power can be used on any street to eliminate either a card on the flop, turn or river and can actually be used twice per hand. “It’s a savage card and can be used in a lot of fun spots! ‘Oh hey, that King helped you, didn’t it? Well, it’s NOT there anymore!” An added level of strategy comes with the execution of the cards. In order to utilize them, you need enough Energy to do so. Each Power consumes a certain amount of Energy, which means that players will need to keep tabs on how much Energy they have as the Sit & Go advances. The various moving parts of the game is an attempt to merge the worlds of poker and strategy gaming. From the futuristic look and feel of the graphics to the new expansion of ways to play any given hand, PokerStars hopes players will get excited about traditional Hold'em poker with as yet undiscovered new depths. “I'm really excited to see more people get into it. It's a new way to think about and enjoy poker. It's also great for streaming, adding a little bit extra onto the game. It will be interesting to see what kind of strategies get developed.” said Martin, who knows a little bit about shifting strategies after winning Big Brother Canada Season 5. Schneider sums up his hopes for the future of the game. “I'm convinced that Power Up will open up huge unexplored strategic dimensions which the game of poker has not seen before.” After a brief hiccup, Power Up on PokerStars is now available for players to try for themselves for real money play in select markets.
  6. [caption width="640"] PokerStars' Power Up gives players a new power packed gaming experience[/caption] Commencing liftoff in 5,4,3,2... PokerStars' much-talked about twist on traditional Texas Hold'em, Power Up, was given clearance for a real-money soft launch on Tuesday. The poker variant combines the principals of traditional NLHE poker, in a three-handed Sit & Go format, with new game-changing “power” that allows players to influence the action in a way that has never before been possible. The majority of the PokerStars player base will find Power Up play money games readily available to take for a spin while those who are using the .EU client will have access to playing Power Up for real money. The initial cash stakes are expected to be $1, $3, $7 and $15. Although no date for a full rollout has been released, players on both the .com and .UK clients can expect real money play to be available in their client relatively soon according to the company. The basics of Power Up follow the time-honored rules of Texas Hold'em. Each of the three players in the Sit & Go get two cards and play them on a five-card board. There's a flop, turn, and river. Standard stuff. The alterations begin as players select from a number of futuristic characters each with their own strengths and weaknesses who will carry out the players bidding. Additionally, players are given three “powers” which, provided your character has enough energy, you can deploy to help your Hold'em cause or hinder your opponents. Cards and some energy are refreshed at the start of each hand and the contest is played out to a winner. “Power Up will greatly add to the poker dynamic and I am especially looking forward to rotating sets of powers as they will keep strategies constantly changing,” said PokerStars Team Pro Igor Kurganov at a recent PokerStars Power Up question and answer session. “In a time when professionals started playing more similarly than they used to, the addition of new dynamics will rock that boat and create a lot of entertainment.” Power cards like “Disintegrate” (eliminate a card on the board), “Intel” (allows you to see the top card of the deck for the entire hand) and “X-Ray” give players weapons never before wielded in a pure game of poker. When asked what he thought the most useful power was, five-time World Series of Poker bracelet winnerJason Mercier selected, “X-Ray, viewing one card of all of your opponent’s seems like a huge advantage and should make it very easy to make decisions throughout the hand.” PokerStars hopes that by adding a new layer of strategy, the management of your powers and ability to execute them, that they can also add a new layer to their customer base. If you are looking to check out the new Power Up, simply fire up your current PokerStars client and look for the Power Up tab right next to your standard Cash, Sit & Go and Tournament options.
  7. [caption width="640"] Maria Ho and Sam Abernathy are ready to help launch Rivals of Poker with a Las Vegas party and want you to join them![/caption] You've arrived in Las Vegas, ready to play the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event sometime over the next three days but before that, you wanna get a little bit of Las Vegas in. Well, Rivals of Poker - the newest social poker product, are hosting a launch party Saturday night with Maria Ho and Sam Abernathy serving as hosts. The party, being held at the Downtown Grand Casino Citrus Pool Deck, gets underway at 8 PM and you're invited! Rivals of Poker, produced by Nobot Games, is a free-to-play app currently available in the iTunes store for download. The game combines some of the best aspects of online poker, social gaming and esports. “Poker hasn’t had much product innovation in recent years,” said Ray Ting, co-founder of Rivals of Poker. “Our Rivals of Poker game fosters competitive communities and rewards them for their participation. So it’s only natural to bring the poker community together for an event like this as we officially launch the product.” Instead of being a standard online poker experience where the only rewards are more chips, Rivals of Poker has developed what they're calling the first poker game that rewards and rates players based on their skill. Playing the game allows players to earn real life rewards including Amazon gift cards, XBox gift cards as well as land-based casino rewards including free hotel stays. The game is being heralded as a perfect merger between poker, social gaming and the booming world of esports. “As Downtown Grand grows our esports and tech sector presence, we’re positioned to host the best launch events in Las Vegas,” said Max Curtis, Esports Director at Downtown Grand. “Rivals of Poker is taking a fresh approach to a traditional gaming product, which fits perfectly with our evolving vision of our venue’s position in the Las Vegas community.” For more information visit www.RivalsOfPoker.com.
  8. It's a big week in Las Vegas with the 2017 World Series of Poker Main Event starting, but there's also another reason to have Saturday, July 8 circled on your calendar. Some of poker's brightest stars are heading Downtown Las Vegas to help launch the latest social poker product, Rivals of Poker. The Downtown Grand Casino Citrus Pool Deck will host the Rivals of Poker launch party, beginning at 8pm. Both Sam Abernathy and Maria Ho are both scheduled to be in attendance. There will also be other top poker pros, a live DJ and games for all attendees to play. Rivals of Poker, produced by Nobot Games, is a free-to-play app currently available in the iTunes store for download. The game combines some of the best aspects of online poker, social gaming and esports. “Poker hasn’t had much product innovation in recent years,” said Ray Ting, co-founder of Rivals of Poker. “Our Rivals of Poker game fosters competitive communities and rewards them for their participation. So it’s only natural to bring the poker community together for an event like this as we officially launch the product.” As players play Rivals of Poker, they begin to get ranked based on their overall skill level. Each and every hand played by a player is rated as compared to optimal play. When players sign-up for Rivals of Poker, they'll choose a team to play for and each team will be tied to a land-based casino. Along with moving up the rankings, players can earn loyalty points which can be redeemed at the land-based casino they chose to represent. The convergence of esports and poker is something that the Downtown Grand had little trouble getting behind. “As Downtown Grand grows our esports and tech sector presence, we’re positioned to host the best launch events in Las Vegas,” said Max Curtis, Esports Director at Downtown Grand. “Rivals of Poker is taking a fresh approach to a traditional gaming product, which fits perfectly with our evolving vision of our venue’s position in the Las Vegas community.” The party is open to anybody wishing to attend.

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