GPL to Resume Season One Play This Week

Fans of the Global Poker League [GPL] will be pleased to learn that the second half of the GPL’s inaugural season is scheduled to begin this week.  Following a six-week hiatus — a few weeks longer than expected, and more on that in a bit — the GPL returns on Tuesday, September 20th, with a new round of head-to-head match-ups in the GPL’s team-poker format.

gpl-logo-2The GPL drew plenty of media and fan attention during the first half of its debut run.  However, events of recent weeks suggest the pet project, part of GPL founder Alex Dreyfus’s grand plans to “sportify” poker, are running along with something less than robust financing behind the scenes.  Dreyfus alluded to a difficult stretch for the GPL amid a cash-transfer controversy that arose a few weeks back.  To a certain extent, that’s how these things tend to go, and it remains uncertain as to whether the GPL will ever reach a point of financial stability, novel and interesting ideas not withstanding.

For Dreyfus, though, it’s full steam ahead.  In a recent announcement mailed out to select industry outlets, he elaborated on why he remains bullish on the GPL’s future.  According to Dreyfus:

“Four years ago the Global Poker Index (GPI) began to transition itself to become Poker’s player ranking authority, with a mission to ‘Sportify Poker’.  We acquired The Hendon Mob (the largest live poker database online since its start 12 years ago), followed by the launch of initiatives such as the American Poker Awards, the GPI World Cup and others.

“Five months ago, we set out on another long journey when we launched the Global Poker League. Thanks to the support of 72 of the best poker players in the world (whose combined earnings total almost $400 million) we built up 12 global teams who would go on to compete for 14 weeks of regular season action. After the success of GPLs Draft Day in Los Angeles, we filmed 200-plus hours of matches both online and live. We built “The Cube”, our signature arena in Las Vegas, and experimented constantly with better ways to connect the game to our viewers. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Powered by Twitch.tv as a partner though, we were able to accrue more than half a million unique engaged viewers to GPL streams.

“We built a platform we believe will become the foundation of ‘Pokertainment’ in the next few years, but we are not yet there yet. We adjusted some of our plans to fit into the reality of our situation too – creating a new sports and entertainment property will take some time.”

It’s probably about the right flavor of statement, giving the recent turbulence for Dreyfus and the GPL.  There’s a bit of defense and justification in the above (with Dreyfus, as he’s previous promised, not getting deep into any finance-based operational specifics), along with the standard cheerleading inherent in any such presser.

Added Dreyfus:

“A mentor of mine once told me that perhaps our biggest threat will be the disparity between how confident we are in our projects in the face of the doubts they will bring in the public arena. I couldn’t agree more. That’s why I’m lucky to have the partners, players and co-workers which we have. I’ve been an entrepreneur for 20 years and I realize this endeavor is the most ambitious one I’ve undertaken, It’s the most exciting too. We want to create a framework that will aggregate Poker’s 100 million global fans (not even counting the Chinese market), convert them into consumers, create opportunities to grow the game of poker outside of its existing boundaries and push it into the more mainstream. The gist – Poker outside the box, but inside The Cube. :-)”

The magic phrase amid the fluffy: “Convert them into consumers.”  That’s the greater goal, and of course one has to get there before the seed money runs out.  Part 2 of Season 1 for the GPL is going to be key in that regard, as Dreyfus hopes to monetize some of the GPL’s continuing attention — or at least open up more possible channels for said monetization.

If you’re curious about what the next six weeks will bring, in terms of poker content, Dreyfus and the GPL even offered a few bullet-point items.  (Note also that much of the action can be followed live on www.gpl.tv):

  • GPL will see the return of Laura Cornelius, Eric Danis, Roland Boothby and a rotating cast of poker experts – beginning with 2-time WPT Winner and GPL Las Vegas Moneymaker team member Jonathan Little during the first 2 weeks.
  • GPL will be present during TwitchCon 2016 in San Diego from October 30th – November 2nd GPL to the gaming world. Look for Booth 852 and say hi!
  • GPL will launch its GPL TV mobile app for iOS & Android next week, with access to all League news, stats, videos, replays and exclusive content in our new “Fan Zone”.
  • GPL will launch GPL TV on OTT platforms like Roku, Apple TV, and etc in 2017 too, in order to control its digital distribution in full and become a fully integrated sports & entertainment property.
  • GPL is working on partnering with various casinos & tours to have GPL Corner Fan Shops available to fans in brick & mortar locations in addition to our online fan shop.
  • 56% of surveyed poker fans claim they would like to play a team poker tournament and 40% want to be part of GPL, we are working with partners to connect GPL players and grassroots fans and make this a reality.
  • We believe the future of GPL and “pokertainment” will be driven by Fan Fueled initiatives. After surveying we found that 40% of fans would play real money fantasy games based on poker, and 49% would like to ‘stake’ live poker players. With almost 4 millions unique combined visitors, GPL, GPI and The Hendon Mob are the perfect platform to do so.
  • GPL Playoffs and Finals will be hosted in our Las Vegas TV Studio from the 29th of November to the 1st of December.
  • GPL Season 2 will start in Q1 of 2017, with an improved format, a new draft day (new teams, player changes and etc.) as well as the introductions of trades between teams.

And there you have it.  We’ll check back on the business side of the GPL and parent company Mediarex in a couple of months, just to see how things are coming along.

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