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Sam Grafton: “It’s Been a Very Promising Beginning for the GPL”
Sam Grafton, AKA TheSquid, has racked up millions in poker earnings around the world and once again finds himself deep in EPT Barcelona.
Beyond just the poker, however, Grafton has a delightful presence on social media and regularly ranks amongst the most entertaining personalities in the game.
That personality was on full display this spring when Grafton, along with fellow funnyman Griffin Benger, took a turn in the commentary booth for the inaugural season of the Global Poker League.
The pair received a large amount of praise for spicing up each and every match during the marathon Twitch portion of the season.
We caught up with Grafton on Day 4 of the EPT Barcelona with just 50 players remaining out of the initial 1,785.
PokerListings: Obviously this is difficult to say, but do you feel like you could go all the way to the last table this time?
Sam Grafton: Yes, of course. I’m a tournament player, and I feel very comfortable in these situations.
I’m comfortable with 16 bigs, and if I go down to ten or twelve, I’m going to know exactly what to do. I think that’s a big advantage.
PL: Who else would you expect at the final table?
SG: There are plenty of good players still in, particularly Jason Koon and Jason Mercier.
You know, I register in tournaments of the remaining field size, and I don’t win them that often, so I know it’s still a long way to go.
PL: We saw your Tweet on Will Kassouf. What is going on there?
SG: There’s no problem or anything. We’ve met before and he’s a funny guy. Obviously, he’s a massive star at the moment. I can’t wait to see the footage of him on ESPN.
We come from the same background, small cash games in London. I was just joking on how much attention’s been on him and he would be the most likely one to be at the camera table.
PL: We really wanted to see him on the GPL. Can you imagine what that would have been like?
SG: I’m sure it would’ve been chaos.
PL: How would you summarize the first half of the inaugural GPL season?
SG: I really enjoyed the experience and I think we have a great product. I’m not only a player, I’m also a poker fan, and watching these big names battle each other was quite exciting.
I hope we were able to convey that excitement, and there were some really classic matches and funny moments.
All in all, it’s been a very promising beginning for the franchise.
PL: Is your passion also why you took the commentator job in the first place?
SG: I’d done some commentating before, but it was a leap into unknown territory nonetheless.
I wanted to stretch myself as an individual, take on a new challenge. I was excited to work with Griffin [Benger], I was excited to stay in Malta for a while, and I’m excited about everything that brings poker to a new, bigger audience.
PL: How can the GPL improve?
SG: I don’t think that’s for me to answer. I don’t know. I have some personal thoughts, but it would be above my agreement to talk about this.
PL: Are you and Griffin going to be back as commentators for the second half of the season?
SG: It’s a little bit up in the air at the moment. I’d love to work with him again, but as he’s just made the November Nine, maybe he wants to spend more time on his game and the preparations for the final of the WSOP.
So, maybe we’ll work together further down the line. Imagine how great it would be if he came back as the world champion.
PL: One might argue that the GPL isn’t really addressing new players, but rather those who know the game already.
SG: I think if we can get the hardcore poker fans on board first, if we can aggregate them and make them watch, that’s already a great start. Then we can start trying to bring new people in.
Look at the development Darts has gone through. It used to be just a niche thing, but because it has such a great atmosphere and has been presented right, it was made exciting for a broader public.
That’s what we’re aiming for, too.