It’s a press release we’ve been waiting for since this spring. The launch of the latest initiative in the Global Poker Index’s arsenal of ideas for the future of poker: The Global Poker League (GPL). So what do we know so far?
1. The Cube
Someone had better call Philip Schofield/ITV because there’s a new cube on the block. According to the GPI, ‘The Cube’ is their “signature arena,” which takes its inspiration from UFC’s Octagon. A portable 20ft “one-way sound proofed” (How? I have no idea) arena will be the setting for the arena staging of the Global Poker League.
2. They couldn’t resist name-dropping Daily Fantasy Sports
I take my hat off to whoever search-engine optimised this article. All of the key lingo they would need to get this out there is present. The GPL ‘takes inspiration from the sports and entertainment industry’ and is aligining itself with the ‘current momentum’ (you can say that again) in eSports and DFS.
3. Even I could be in a team (I think)
Here me out…I think I could be selected in a GPL franchise. Each team consists of five players, three of which will be drafted in a GPL Draft Day, and must be in the GPI Top 1,000 players. The other two however are Wild Cards, which presumably means they could pick anyone. Yes, even passive-aggressive Barbara from your local casino. I’ll be expecting an email before the year is out…
4. If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard the phrase ‘sportify’
Ok, so it may be becoming ever so slightly stale, and it has been ridiculed from all sides at times. BUT there is light at the end of the tunnel, and Mediarex Sports & Entertainment CEO Alexandre Dreyfus may have the last laugh. This innovative format is after all his idea, and this announcement is just another step towards the realisation of his goal to ‘sportify’ poker. Only time will tell.
5. This concept has potentially lucrative consequences for all involved
There is a lot of numbers in this point so bear with me. Following some recent research carried out by MSE, apparently there are more than 100 million casual poker fans across the globe. Meanwhile, the average revenue generated per sport fan is $56. Using some simple maths you can see why the company is aiming to create a new market territory in the next five years.
6. Poker purists, look away now
Digital cards but real chips? 30-40 minute long “duel matches”? Events held at iconic venues across the globe? Players standing whilst playing? That old guy you see in the corner grumbling about the state of modern poker will have a lot more to moan about following the launch of the GPL. The main question here is whether it will work, and obviously we won’t know until well into 2016, so it remains to be seen just how much they’ve changed poker in order for it to be marketable to a wider audience.
7. Pitbull could write a song about this new venture
Struggling for ideas for an upcoming fancy dress party? Have no fear! Step 1) Wear a white suit. Step 2) Put on some shades. Step 3) Start shouting random world destinations. Hey presto, you’re now Pitbull
All joking aside, there is some serious name dropping for future bases of GPL franchises. Teams are split into two divisions (Americas and Eurasia) and the GPI expect teams to be based in major cities the world over, including six world capitals! However, it’s still unclear whether the names of the franchises will be linked to the names of these cities. If so I’m definitely supporting the New York Nits!
According to this press release, MSE’s main focus with the GPL is on bringing a new narrative to poker, with a larger emphasis on the players and teams, as well as creating engaging storries and delivering ‘immersive, engaging events.’ So far so good. But read on…
“(These) are all high on the agenda for MSE and the Global Poker League as they seek to ‘own‘ the sport of poker.”
I’m sure there are a lot of people who will skip over this sentence. I had to reread it several times to make sure I properly understood what the MSE are saying. And I’m definitely sure that there are several world bodies who will have something to say, if the GPL aims to become the sole recognised poker broadcast company (or something similar).
The first season of the Global Poker League begins early 2016.