By: Queen of Hearts Paris
On Thursday, February 25th, an exciting Draft Day is set to take place at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. It’s the Global Poker League’s first-ever draft of poker players to play for its 12 franchise teams, representing 33 countries and more than $500 million in combined winnings. The draft will be co-hosted by ESPN’s World Series of Poker presenter Kara Scott and will feature a panel of analysts that includes poker superstars Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu.
The team managers (more on that later) will be choosing from the 203 players who opted to be draft-eligible out of the top 1,000 players as ranked by the Global Poker Index (GPI). And the players will not be gambling with their own money; they will get paid to participate, like professional athletes.
To put it simply, the GPL is an attempt to “sportify” team poker so that everyone, not just the fans of well-known poker players, has a reason to be engaged in following their poker “team” throughout the year. That’s right; the goal is for each of the teams to wind up having their own dedicated fan base, a fan base that roots for them with the kind of intensity that only teams can generate.
Managers were appointed by the GPL to be the “face” of their teams. Each of the 12 has signed two-year contracts to help guarantee team continuity. The contract makes them responsible for actively participating in the development of the League, including drafting their players and coming up with their own particular strategy to field winning teams. A flare for marketing and garnering media attention won’t hurt.
The creation of Alex Dreyfus, CEO of Mediarex Sports and Entertainment (MSE), the Leagues list of managers includes poker star Celina Lin , manager of the Hong Kong Stars; Chris Moneymaker’, manager of the Las Vegas MoneyMakers; Bryn Kenney, manager of the New York Rounders; Fabrice Soulier, manager of the Paris Aviators; Max Pescatori, manager of the Rome Emperors; Faraz Jaka, manager of the San Francisco Rush and five more who’ll be managing teams from Canada, Germany, England, Russia and Brazil. The U.S. has the most teams, with a total of four.
At the Draft, each manager will draft four players ranked in the top 1,000 in the GPI as of January 2016, plus two wildcards for their team.
With more and more people coming from the online world, Dreyfus observed that often the final tables of the most important tournaments are led by players that people don’t know, guys who are very good at poker but who don’t bring with them a dedicated fan base. In fact, because of the great success of online poker and the influx of talented online players, there remain only a few players that people are passionate about when it comes to following their careers and rooting for them at poker tournaments.
So Dreyfus came up with a plan: “If we want to serve poker-related content to the media on a weekly basis, and if we want people to talk about poker, we need to build a platform — a league that will give everyone a reason to be engaged and interested in the game.”
We will cover the results of the Draft on the 25th and keep you posted on the GPL’s progress, and hopefully its success, as the story unfolds. Until then, see you at the tables.