Global Poker League to be Launched by GPI
Today has seen yet another announcement from Alex Dreyfus and the growing poker entity that is The Global Poker Index (GPI). As part of the GPI’s drive to “sportify” poker, they have announced a new Poker competition called The Global Poker League(GPL).
The GPL is planned to continue on where the planned Global Poker Masters (GPM), or “World Cup of Poker,” will leave off in 2015. While the GPM is slated to be between 8 different countries, with the top 5 available GPI ranked players making up the teams, the GPL is going to be based much more on the US commercial sports team model. The league is expected to start with six to eight teams, with the players on these teams being drafted from the Global Poker Index Rankings, with some wildcards thrown in to add to the excitement.
“Poker is an individual sport, such as tennis or golf,” Dreyfus told PokerNews. “So, if tennis has the Davis Cup and golf has the Ryder Cup, why shouldn’t we have our own poker league? … NASCAR is owned by one family, Formula 1 is owned by Bernie Ecclestone (Ecclestone is the CEO of the Formula One Group, but doesn’t own a majority share in the company),“ he continued. “We, as the GPI, can own poker in this very specific vertical. I believe it’s possible and I think the GPI is also fully legitimate to have that role.”
Dreyfus claims to have several potential team “owners” interested in taking the plunge into this new “sportification” of poker. Dreyfus also outlined his vision for the new league during his conversation with PokerNews. “The initial vision is to have a series of live events akin to a sports season co-hosted by international poker events,” he said. “This will evolve with six to eight different franchises (poker teams) competing against one another with initial seasons lasting a short three to four months.”
Alex Dreyfus seems to be taking a leap of faith that the mainstream media are going to be interested in covering the GPL, and bringing mainstream advertisers into the market with their coverage, which is something that even the World Series of Poker struggles to do. In the Pokernews interview, Dreyfus explained his pitch: “Let’s say that you will be the owner of one team and that the project will go well and it will get the exposure we want it to get from mainstream sports media. This would open to a lot of marketing opportunities for you. You could turn your team into a brand or get big international companies to sign sponsorship deals that you, as the team’s owner, would definitely benefit from.”
In a market where the mainstream media has been less than enthused by the positive side of the game of poker, and has been for some time, this seems to be a herculean task. While there are certainly massive opportunities for both mainstream media and the GPL using this model, it does seem to leave the GPL very exposed if the expected coverage is not forthcoming. This is the first GPI product we’ve seen that actually has a full monetisation program behind it, and the profitability of the GPl hinges on engaging the mainstream media.
The GPI, led by Dreyfus, has been reaching out to mainstream sponsors and media, plans have already been made to bring poker companies together with mainstream brands, at a conference in February 2015. This GPI initiative is probably only the tip of the iceberg, as overcoming the bias held against poker, and gambling in general, is not something that will be achieved over night.
The GPL is possibly the biggest risk taken in the campaign to bring poker into the front room of Mr Joe Average around the world. This new direction for the GPI is not without risks, something the Dreyfus seems to know all too well.
“I think this is our most ambitious project so far,” Dreyfus told PokerNews. “It’s one of those that can change things for good or for worse. If it will work as we want, it will be amazing. If it won’t, we risk that it will also damage the enormous work with did with all our other products.”