By definition, poker players need to keep their emotions in check at the tables — it is one of the first tips you will learn as a beginner. But once you are away from the table, observing a game you are emotionally invested in, you are free to let loose. Anyone interested in poker has heard about Game of Gold, the new hybrid poker-reality TV show from GGPoker. Most people have seen at least one episode of the show by this point. It has been a long time since a poker show created such a buzz in the community, engaging casual fans and professional players alike and generating endless topics for discussion, analysis, and banter.
There have been dozens of shows of different types and formats since the poker boom, some more successful than others, but I can hardly remember anything coming anywhere close to Game of Gold in terms of popularity and engagement.
A question that comes naturally is — why? What makes this show different and more appealing to the masses? And, if I am completely honest, it is not poker. Games were fun to watch, for sure, but the super-quick structure made it a bit of a crapshoot. So, players did not really get to show their knowledge of the game.
It was something else that propelled Game of Gold into a realm different from other poker shows as it ventured into uncharted territory. The show offered the audience (including yours truly) a chance to get to know players at a deeper, more intimate level.
By definition, poker players need to keep their emotions in check at the tables — it is one of the first tips you will learn as a beginner. But once you are away from the table, observing a game you are emotionally invested in, you are free to let loose. And that is exactly what happened in the show, creating a completely new kind of pull that you just do not get with other big poker shows.
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Getting Emotionally Involved
Usually, when you watch poker on TV or online, you are not particularly interested in who wins or loses as long as there are some interesting hands and big pots. You may have a player that you like and want to win, but for most people, it is about the quality of hands and the size of pots.
Very few players are not afraid to reveal their emotions, especially when cameras are rolling. This is perhaps why most of us enjoy seeing Phil Hellmuth lose — it is not that we do not like him or particularly want him to lose money, but he is one guy who will go on a full-blown emotional tirade after losing a big hand.
Game of Gold took that idea to a whole new level, focusing more on that emotional and aspirational aspect than the game itself. A hardcore poker fan could take an issue with this, but for many out there, this makes things much more entertaining and allows them to see beyond the “poker face.”
After watching all the episodes of the show, I feel like it would be much easier to approach someone like Maria Ho or Josh Arieh and strike up a conversation with them. Nothing has changed in relation to a month ago — they still have no idea of who I am, and I did not create any actual connection with them while watching the show, and yet, it does not feel like that.
It feels like I got to share in on at least a small part of their experience and understand their personality a bit better. After watching Game of Gold, I know that Fedor is not just a beast at poker but also seems like a pretty cool guy to hang with, measured, respectful, and highly motivated, even though the money on the line is probably a drop in a bucket for someone with his list of achievements.
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The Poker Show We Did Not Know We Needed
Poker and reality TV — it is an interesting concept that we all had our doubts about when GoG was first announced by GGPoker, but the number of views and reactions from the community tell us all we need to know — it clearly works. Game of Gold has thus far amassed over three million views on YouTube, which will certainly grow over the coming weeks and months. I am sure that there are still many poker fans out there who have yet to discover this show, and I think it is safe to say they will be thrilled when they do eventually.
Poker and reality TV — it is an interesting concept that we all had our doubts about when GoG was first announced by GGPoker, but the number of views and reactions from the community tell us all we need to know — it clearly works.
The rumor has it that there are already discussions for Season 2, and using lessons from the initial running, we can expect it to be even better. Maybe throwing a few complete amateurs into the mix would make the whole thing even more interesting, adding new dynamics to the show.
Either way, it is fair to say that Game of Gold is a poker show we did not know we needed, but it turned out great. There is no bigger pull for the audience than watching players they feel they have a deeper connection with, motivating them to keep track of their careers even after the show is over.
I am aware that not everyone will agree with this outlook, and if you want to focus on things that were done wrong or not as good, there are plenty to choose from. I just prefer to stick with the positives and all the good a show like this can do for the growth of the game we all love, which is one thing we all, I think, want to see happen.