Friday 9th October, 2015

Bob Dylan Sang About It, People Are Scared of It

By Mark Valentine

I want to start with something big, that a lot of people find really, really scary.

CHANGE

There it is, that thing that makes grown ups angry, confused and frightened!

But why? I have always thought that it is because humans like to be comfortable. They like knowing where things are and how to get them, and when that is changed it brings out irrational feelings that we fear. I have seen this so many times over the years, especially when I had a ‘proper’ job; changes in working practises, change in management, change in shift patterns, change in company goals. Many people dislike it and some try to fight it. The latter always end up looking for a new job and the gold at the end of the rainbow (which is generally in  field of Unicorns).

Poker had one of those moments this week. It wasn’t a surprise, we knew it was coming, we knew who was behind it, but yet there are still some surprised people out there when it was announced.

The entrepreneurial Alexandre Dreyfus has finally announced the Global Poker League, which is a ‘franchised’ based poker league, played in ‘The Cube’. For those needing to play catch up at this point, please click on the links to understand what is involved.

Let us look at things this way; you are involved in a very niche industry that can only grow if it has broader appeal and new customers walking in through the door. To get the new customers you have to reach out to them and offer them a vision of your product that interest, excites and motivates them to try it out. If the do, and they like it then they will buy into the product as a whole. For example, Formula 1 fans, may not love NASCAR and Le Mans, but they will watch it as they are Motor Racing fans.

There are too many people in the poker industry who are too keen to bat away new ideas and new concepts. I have always felt that these people are like the ones in my old career who do not like change. Change is bad, change is evil, yet change is what will (I am not going to say grow) keep poker alive. Too many people think it is played in back rooms by grumpy old men, or young kids in hoodies and headphones who sit in silence looking angry, or by mouthy frustrated people who want to berate their opponent for making a bad decision. Guess what, THEY ARE RIGHT!

We need fun, we need audience, we need music, lasers, arenas, T-shirts, LED screens, heroes, villains, laughs.

Why would nobody want that? Why would nobody want new players? Does it matter how we acquire them? Does it matter if someone wants to invest time and money to get them? Does it matter if they need an ROI on getting them?

If you don’t want the change that will keep the game alive, then step back into your provincial card room, shut down your Twitter account and stay out of the limelight. This industry needs change and it needs people who will invest (and get make money) to get there. Maybe a Global Poker League is not the definitive answer, but there is not a line of people with there hands in their pockets, enthusiasm and fresh ideas.

Let’s break the mould and EMBRACE CHANGE. Let’s be better than regular people with regular jobs. Let’s support ideas that can bring new life into our industry.