March 13 2015, by Eric Danis
Blog – Alex Dreyfus – Poker’s World Cup, Global Poker League and strategic partnerships
We are 10 days away from the first ever “Poker’s World Cup” – the Global Poker Masters. This competition was first announced last year to support the Global Poker Index’s strategy to promote poker as a “new sport” and grow it as a “new marketing vertical”. Should poker be recognized as a sport? Probably not. Should it be promoted like one, definitely yes. It’s a game – a sport that has millions of players and spectators all over the world. We just need to find new ways to expand it. In the last 5 years we’ve stagnated as an industry in our ability to get traction despite the clear growth of poker markets on nearly every continent. At Global Poker Index (GPI), we believe that if we want non-poker (read: mainstream) media to talk regularly about poker we need to serve them with innovative narratives; different headlines. This takes time but it can and will happen.
We can’t (and don’t want to) disrupt (or compete with) the Poker ecosystem. The steady successes of the World Series of Poker, World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour (and their satellites all over the world) are the foundation of what makes a healthy poker economy.
GPI’s ambition is to build a new platform that will provide poker content that mainstream media can digest and will have an appetite to broadcast, especially across digital channels. That’s where the growth of the global audience is. Instead of bringing people to poker, we want to bring poker to the people. This is our approach.
Next week, we will be kicking off the first-ever Global Poker Masters, a competition that we believe will be the first legitimate “Poker’s World Cup”. This competition will gather the best players from the top 8 poker nations, each with a team of 5 players who’ve qualified based on our GPI World Rankings – the poker ranking authority – via a 36 month-long process. These top players emerge from an exhaustive potential player-pool as GPI ranks more than 400,000 players from 95 countries. To say that the players selected for competition earn their qualification is an understatement. The 40 participants of the Global Poker Masters represent a new generation of poker heroes and some of the best minds currently in the game, not to mention combined poker winnings of over $180 million USD in the last few years alone.
To #SportifyPoker, we need to create more engagement for the fans and the audience. Only Team Competitions will be able to do that even if Poker is, admittedly, an individual game at its core. Tennis and the Davis Cup, and Golf’s Ryder Cup are perfect examples of team-formatted success for individual sports. With the Global Poker Masters, some of the biggest online bookmakers/sportsbooks have already begun offering odds to bet on the competition – another great step. This isn’t enough though. We are lucky enough to be able to have a livestream of the event in 5 languages which eventually directly support live betting capabilities for the next edition of the Global Poker Masters and upcoming Global Poker League. In the meantime, we’ve built a free-to-play “Pick ‘Em” game which will allow audiences to choose picks to win various legs of the Global Poker Masters and win prizes while watching the event live.
Content is king & distribution is queen. The 1st Global Poker Masters are unbranded, clean from any sponsorship, and will be distributed and promoted via key partners including Twitch.tv and Pokerstars.tv for its 24 hours (spread across 2 x 12 hour days) livestream runtime. It will likely also be broadcasted on other channels at a later stages via an episodic format. Innovation and Novelty will give us the opportunity to attract new strategic partners in the next few months too.
A launch pad for the Global Poker League (GPL)
Having a yearly “Poker’s World Cup” is a nice way reward the best poker nations and to engage media, but one issue is that it only happens once a year. That’s not enough “on-air” time to ignite adequate content and exposure opportunities that can reliably support the ambition of building a new sports vertical. This is why GPI has also announced the launch of the Global Poker League – Poker’s first professional league – which will commence this summer with 8 franchise teams of 5 players. It will be preceded by a Draft based on our GPI rankings and complemented by wildcard team member selections by team owners. We already have 4 Team Owners committed and the full support of all the poker players we’ve spoke to thus far. We’ll start to release more details in April once the Global Poker Masters are done.
Strategic partners are actually going to support the launch of our League, the GPL, and as well eventually our World Cup. We’ll have then a perfect platform – a marketing and media vehicle ready to promote poker and its players, to become (we hope) the new sports vertical it has the potential to be.
My wife had tattooed “Never Give Up” on her wrist few years back, and that’s driving me every single day. We will achieve and deliver this vision, because we believe its the right one.
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