Initial Global Poker League Details Released

Sportify poker. Sportify poker. Sportify poker. We have heard that from Global Poker Index (GPI) CEO Alexandre Dreyfus for what feels like years in hyping this amorphous concept of the Global Poker League (GPL). By the name, we knew it was a league that involved poker and by “sportify,” we might guess that it would involve team play, but that’s it. We haven’t really been told any of the where’s, what’s, and who’s. Until now. On Tuesday, Mediarex Sports & Entertainment, along with the GPI, published a press release, cluing us in on some of the details of the upcoming Global Poker League. We still don’t know everything, but it is a start.

As suspected, the league will involve team poker. It doesn’t sound like anything is absolutely set in stone yet, but it will consist of two conferences, similar to how things work in professional sports leagues. The “Americas” conference is expected to include teams from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto, New York, Sao Paolo, and of course, Las Vegas. The “Eurasia” conference will be composed of teams from the cities of London, Paris, Hong Kong, Moscow, Barcelona, and Prague.

The teams themselves will be made up of five poker players. The first three players on each team will be chosen via a draft process on the appropriately named GPL Draft Day. Anyone in the top 1,000 of the Global Poker Index will be eligible for the draft. Unlike other team competitions, like the GPI’s own Global Poker Masters, it does not appear that players must be from the cities or have any relation to them at all. The final two slots on each team are for “Wild Cards,” though no information has been given as to what this means or how those players are selected.

The initial Global Poker League season will last “at least” fourteen weeks and will culminate with the GPL World Championships in the summer of 2016. According to the press release, the Championships “will be staged at one of the most renowned sport and entertainment venues in the USA.” Intrigue and suspense.

As for the rest of the events, they will be held online, at live venues, and in television studios. As part of the effort to “sportify” poker, the live venues won’t be the usual casinos that we see all the time on TV, but rather “iconic venues across the globe.” Should be interesting to see where they end up to be.



Of course, iconic venue likely means large stadium or indoor arena, not particularly the best place to watch live poker. The GPL has a solution for that, though: THE CUBE. It really is what it sounds like. It’s a 20-foot cube inside which the poker will be played. The cube is sound-proof and only transparent one-way, so the players are isolated in their own little world, but the audience can see them just fine. Well, except for the fact that the audience will be far away, but that is fixed by huge video screens that show all the information that fans would want to know like hole cards, win probabilities, and the like. Of course, The Cube is also mic’ed up so everyone can hear the banter, as well.

The format of the Global Poker League, aside from the number of teams and players per team, is still shrouded in mystery. We don’t know if there’s a points system, how the qualifiers for the GPL World Championships are determined, or even what the game types will be. One thing the press release did say was that there would be “duel matches” whose completion will be governed by a 30-40 minute timer rather than someone winning all the chips. Those chips, by the way, will contain RFID technology and the cards will be computerized, all in the name of speedier hands.

Unlike traditional poker tournaments, the prize money will not be contributed by the players. Instead, the Global Poker League will derive the prize pools from revenue streams such as merchandising, ticket sales, and sponsorships. All GPL events will be live streamed and some will be televised, though there is no word yet which network will broadcast them.

The GPL is quite optimistic about how well the league will be received. In a survey conducted in September, nearly a third of respondents (30 percent) who identified themselves as poker fans said they were interested in buying tickets to a GPL event. A quarter would actually buy GPL and/or team merchandise. And 63 percent said they would watch the GPL World Championships.

“We’ve been talking and working tirelessly for a long time about how ‘We Sportify Poker’ and the launch of the Global Poker League is a great stepping stone on our route to achieving that,” said Drefyus. “This isn’t going to be ‘yet another poker event’ – we’ll be bringing something new and exciting to the table.”

The Global Poker League is slated to begin in the first quarter of 2016.


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