Global Poker Index founder Alex Dreyfus opened the first Global Poker Masters today in Malta with an important qualifier:
"The Global Poker Masters is not just another poker event," Dreyfus told the crowd of players and media in attendance.
"It’s not just another Sit-and-Go. It is about skill.”
Held in the Portomaso Suite at the Hilton Malta, tonight's ceremony included the seat draw for the first round.
Along with virtually all players from the eight participating National teams, also present were Scott Ball from Twitch.tv, which will host the livestream, Kara Scott, who will host the event, and Thomas Lamatsch, the Tournament Director.
In his opening speech Dreyfus stressed particularly that he wants the event to be seen as a sports event rather than a poker tournament.
“This is the first step on the road to sportify poker," he said. “There were many people who didn’t believe this would ever happen, and now it does.”
This Event is Different
“This event is different," Dreyfus continued, "and yes, it’s complicated. The reason for that is that we want the winner to be legit."
While the opening ceremony did set the much-anticipated first-round matches it didn't reveal the still-unknown prizes.
“The last thing I want to see in the media," Dreyfus said, "is somebody writing that a team won the title and $100,000 or $1 million.
"It’s not that much, but it might be next year. What we want to see is that the media writes about the two teams in the final and the eventual winner.”
"The sportifying idea becomes very clear here. At the football World Cup it’s all about the title, too. On the night of the final, nobody asks how much money the players get."
Dreyfus did say the prize money will be revealed at some point during the tournament.
Draw Party Leads to Possible Tweaks
Liv Boeree did the official honor of drawing the player seats for the first round. Almost all the players taking part in the GPM were present at the opening night.
Official table draws are still to be released (see below for reasoning) but you can see a list of all players and teams here. Team Canada is the current favorite to win it according to the bookmakers.
“The long-term goal of the Global Poker Masters,” said Dreyfus, “is the Global Poker League. This league will consist of weekly team events but these events will be sport more than poker.”
Team members will be selected based on GPI rankings and the teams will have names like football teams. These events will then be televised, Dreyfus hopes, like any other sporting event.
The lively feedback at the draw party showed both that the players were very open to the new format and that there might be a couple of teething pains to begin.
Vanessa Selbst pointed out that each nation having the same seat at all tables in the first round would mean that one nation has position on a specific other one all the time.
“We had an event a couple of years ago and this set-up led to the event being very unsuccessful to say the least," said Selbst, probably referencing the World Poker Cup at the PCA.
Germany's George Danzer pointed out that a hard stop for time would mean in the last hand it would always be correct for several players to go all-in. Thus the players should not know beforehand when the last hand is due.
Dreyfus took the feedback to heart and announced that there still might be changes made to the current rules.
Rules and Structure
A quick rundown of the structure and rules for the 2-day event.
The GPM will be played with a 30-second shot clock to prevent stalling and guarantee action.
Day 1 of 2 starts at 12 am tomorrow with 25 8-max Sit-and-Gos. There will be five rounds of five simultaneously played tournaments. The SnGs cannot take longer than 2.5 hours, after which they will be hard stopped.
Each team will be awarded points according to where the players finish. At the end of the night the team that has collected the most points advances straight through to the semi-finals.
The team with the fewest points will be eliminated.
The second round is the quarter-finals. This consists of three sets of 3 heads-up matches play-off style, meaning that the second-best team of the first round takes on the seventh best, 3rd takes on 6th and 4 battles 5.
Teams will nominate players for the quarterfinals. Again points will be awarded and the team with the fewest points will be eliminated.
Day 2 will see the semis and the finale. The semi-final will be a deep-stacked 6-max event with one player from each of the remaining countries.
The last two countries represented at the table will go through to the finals where each player will play a heads-up match against one randomly chosen player of the other team.
The first team to win three heads-up matches is the winner of the first Global Poker Masters. Complete details here.