WSOP Partners with Global Poker Index, Makes Fantasy Poker Manager “Official Fantasy Poker Game” of Series
Today came more news from Zokay Entertainment, parent company of the Global Poker Index, with the announcement that the GPI-based Facebook game Fantasy Poker Manager has become the “official fantasy poker game” of the World Series of Poker. The three-year agreement between the two entities ensures a higher profile for the GPI at this summer’s WSOP while also helping promote Fantasy Poker Manager.
According to the GPI website, “the agreement furthers the Global Poker Index’s goal of bringing poker players and fans closer together, while also promoting poker as a competitive sport.”
Fantasy Poker Manager operates not unlike fantasy sports sites that invite participants to draft players onto a single team, then accumulate points based on their chosen players’ performances. However, unlike many sports-based fantasy sites, Fantasy Poker Manager is free to play and currently offers no cash prizes.
Participants draft players and accumulate points for their fantasy poker teams for a given tournament or series, with points awarded according to the same system by which the GPI rankings are calculated. At the moment, players of Fantasy Poker Manager are currently able to draft teams for the World Poker Tour Barcelona Main Event taking place April 5-10, as well as create rosters for the WSOP Asia Pacific series that kicks off on Thursday and lasts through April 15.
A beta version of Fantasy Poker Manager was first launched on Facebook in January 2013. According to the GPI, over 20,000 have played the game during its first three months, including most of the players ranked in the Global Poker Index’s Top 300 list. The GPI targets 100,000 Fantasy Poker Manager users (or “teams”) as a goal they wish to reach by the end of this summer’s WSOP.
In the press release, Zokay Entertainment CEO Alexandre Dreyfus expressed excitement about the deal and reiterated his “plan to continue our investment into Fantasy Poker Manager” going forward.
WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart also chimes in to say “that many of our players and WSOP love the idea of fantasy poker,” implying that the WSOP’s primary benefit here will be potentially to use Fantasy Poker Manager as a means to help build the audience for those who enjoy following poker as fans.
From the GPI’s perspective, the game will receive considerable promotion via the WSOP website and other marketing avenues. “In addition,” says the press release, “Fantasy Poker Manager and Global Poker Index staff will be out in full force at the WSOP in Las Vegas this summer to provide assistance, updates and news to the players and fans.”
Also of note is the fact that the partnership will additionally include “special benefits and privileges” for top GPI ranked players, although the nature of those perks have yet to be outlined.
In late February the GPI likewise announced a three-year partnership with the World Poker Tour, also designed to provide a means for both entities to cross-promote. Haley Hintze examined that deal and some of its implications here at Flushdraw, noting in particular how the development of fantasy poker represents a novel marketing effort that has the potential to help professional poker tours further build a mainstream audience. Such is no doubt a primary motivation for the WSOP’s entering a similar agreement.
As noted in an earlier report on the GPI’s disqualification of players Jean-Paul Pasqualini and Cedric Rossi from its rankings following allegations of cheating, Dreyfus has been speaking of his desire to promote the GPI as a kind of central liaison for all of professional tournament poker for some time, with the intention for the GPI to have a presence at this summer’s WSOP having been planned for previously.
Unfortunately, access to Fantasy Poker Manager is limited to Facebook users, which for some presents an obstacle for getting involved and playing the game. Nevertheless, the game has proven popular among both players and media covering tournament poker, and its likelihood of spreading further among a larger fan base has increased with the announcement of the WSOP agreement.