Virtual Poker League 2020 played out over the weekend.
The multistage team event did its level best to take online poker to the next level. Although the results were a little clunky to watch, they point the way forward for other large online events.
The key innovation of VPL 2020 is that as well as streaming the table and hands, the stream includes studio commentary and camera feeds of each player. The software arranges the feeds like avatars about the table. The editor can blow the images up in half the screen when they want to give the audience a good reaction shot.
The result was a show with the slickness and speed of online poker, but with plenty of table talk and a, literally, human face.
Amit Burman, one of Poker Sports League’s frontmen, told the press that he was “thrilled to announce VPL on behalf of the entire team of Poker Sports League. Setting a benchmark in today’s tech-savvy world, VPL is the first-ever poker event (post-COVID) which replicates the live poker experience. Our entire operations are conducted in a virtual format through the Virtual Poker League.”
How it works
Six teams from around India put together a five-person line up. The rules required each team to have at least one woman on each team. All six teams treated that as a maximum.
Despite having thirty of India’s top poker sharks in play, they weren’t playing to get their mitts on each other’s bankrolls. Instead, the VPL event partnered with three charities: United Way Chennai, ASSCOD, and Super School India.
The prize pool of ₹1 million ($13,631) was to be split between the charities in a ratio of 5:3:2 according to the winner’s choice.
Incidentally, if you still want to donate to any of these charities, there are links in the description of the YouTube video at the bottom of this article.
This is a crucial time in the expansion and legalization of poker in India. Event coordinators partly calculate that charity events make the game look good. Their goal is to shift the more conservative elements of the judiciary who view poker as gambling (as opposed to a skill game).
The events started on the 14th of October with Event #1. This event was made up of five sit’n’gos. One player per team per table.
These STTs were followed up by Event #2, a 30-man MTT.
The team’s results from these two events then determined the team’s starting stack for the finale: Event #3.
Event #3 saw one person from each team selected for a final six-player freezeout. Blinds started at 500/1000. with the points weighted starting stacks ranged from 91,000 to 155,000.
This final table had Nishant Sharma for the Mumbai Anchors, Kunal Patni for the Deccan Aces, Romi Adwani for the Gujarat Falcons, Gaurav Sood for the Chennai Troopers, Abhinav Iyer for the Goan Nuts, and Sriharsha Doddapaneni for the Delhi Czars.
It came down to Patni and Sood in the end. With effective stacks at 192k and the blinds at 5k/10k Patni called on the button.
Sood checked his Ts-6s in the big blind. They saw the flop come 8s-4x-2x. Sood checked and then re-raised Patni’s min-bet up to 30k. Patni called.
The turn came down a Ks, giving Sood the spade draw. He bet out. Patni thought a little while and called.
River comes Tc. Sood missed his backdoor flush but picked up a pair. With 140k in the pot and 122k behind, the commentators were convinced he would shove. They are right. The chips go in and Patni with the larger stack snap calls and shows the K-2 for two pair.
To Patni goes the right to allocate the charitable funds, and of course the kudos.
You can watch the finale here, and the rest of the series on the hashtag poker YouTube channel.
Image source: Twitter