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Global Poker League begins Summer Series, unveils The Cube

6 Jun 2016

By Gary Trask

Aaron Paul enjoyed an impressive GPL debut on Monday night.

Aaron Paul enjoyed an impressive GPL debut on Monday night.

Actor Aaron Paul provided a huge boost to the start of the Global Poker League's Summer Series on Monday night by not only participating in the debut heads-up match in The Cube, but also by pulling off an upset win for his LA Sunset team.

Paul, best known for his role as Jesse Pinkman in the Emmy-award winning television drama, Breaking Bad, secured six of the nine available points by taking two out of three matches from Paris Aviator Manager Fabrice Soulier, including a 109-hand marathon in the final stanza that was streamed live on Twitch.

Paul was a wildcard pick by LA Sunset Manager Maria Ho and did not play a match for his team during the first eight weeks of the regular season. He credited his victory to a heavy dose of coaching he received from teammate and heads-up specialist Oliver Busquet, and also told GPL host Laura Cornelius that he was a big fan of the new Summer Series format.

"I love The Cube," Paul said with a wide smile. "It's such a cool and unique way to play the game. This is really a sporting event. I really respect poker and it's cool that the fans can see the cards live in person as the matches are going on."

In the other two Summer Series matches this week, Jonathan Jaffe of the San Francisco Rush won two out of three matches over Dzmitry Urbanovich of the Moscow Wolverines and Scott Ball of the Las Vegas Moneymakers did the same to Chris Moorman of the London Royals.
While the 2016 World Series of Poker was kicking off at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas last week, Alexandre Dreyfus was locked inside an office building, feverishly constructing what he sincerely hopes will be poker's "next big thing."

Dreyfus, the CEO of the newly launched Global Poker League, arrived in Las Vegas 10 days ago to a bare piece of commercial space one mile off the Strip. He and his team rolled up their collective sleeves and began work on The Cube, a 20-foot-wide by 12-foot-tall creation that will serve as home to the GPL's Summer Series, which begins tonight.

The Cube, which Dreyfus says, "takes a cue" from the UFC's Octagon, is a soundproof one-way visible glass arena with LED light tracking. Fans are able to see into it, hear the banter and view hole cards and game stats in real time, but the players inside can't see out. Instead of a poker table with a dealer, actual cards and chips, there is a "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire" type of setup where players face each other, looking at cards on digital screens three feet away from each other. Beginning next week, live audiences of 30 to 40 people will be able to watch a schedule of nearly 30 matches live and in person.

The Cube is a soundproof glass arena with LED light tracking.

The Cube is a soundproof glass arena with LED light tracking.

"We're showing our audience right from the get-go that we aren't the WSOP or the WPT; this is something totally different that nobody has ever experienced," Dreyfus told Casino City. "We are much more like a TV show than a poker tournament. Having the players stand up and play so close to each other will really make it hard for them to hide their tendencies and feelings.

"We are really breaking the code here. People are used to watching poker with a guy sitting down, playing with one hand. This brings an entirely new element to the game."

The inaugural GPL season kicked off back in early April with an eight-week run of online six-max and heads-up matches. The 12-team league is made up of two six-team conferences (American and Eurasia) that were drafted in February. Up until the Summer Series, the teams have not played inter-conference matches.

Heading into the start of the Summer Series on Monday — which will be highlighted by the debut of LA Sunset wildcard pick Aaron Paul of "Breaking Bad" fame — the Montreal Nationals, starring 2014 WSOP Main Event champ Martin Jacobson, are the top team and lead the Americas Conference with 106 points. The London Royals, led by manager Liv Boeree, are atop the Eurasia Conference with 97 points.

The Summer Series ends on July 8, just before the start of the Main Event. The second portion of the regular season starts on Aug. 16 and runs six weeks before the playoffs commence on Sept. 30, when the top eight teams will play down to four. The GPL Finals, featuring the four remaining teams, will play out Nov. 22-23 inside The Cube in front of a live audience at The SSE Arena in Wembley.

"We're off to a great start; the players have given us tremendous feedback and are really looking forward to the Summer Series and playing in The Cube," Dreyfus said. "The main achievement that I'm most happy with is that we actually launched. Is it perfect? No. Can it be better? Of course. But what matters most to me right now is that we have 12 teams with some of the best players in the world competing against each other. And we are going to get bigger and better with time."

All matches are live streamed on and Twitch, and the audience surged in the second half of the first portion of the regular season. According to Dreyfus, over the last four weeks the GPL drew 300,000 unique viewers, and their sessions lasted an average of 20 minutes and up to 40 minutes.

"We are creating a new audience for poker," Dreyfus added. "We're not damaging the existing poker audience; we're enhancing it by building a framework and platform that will help promote the game in an innovative way. And with the introduction of The Cube we're bringing it a step further."

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