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Dreyfus: "Poker is Show Business. We Need Exposure, Storytelling"
Since its beginning two years ago, the Global Poker Index has expanded more than most imagined it could in such a short time frame.
Already the largest poker player ranking system on the Web, the majority of players on the poker circuit today acknowledge it as the most viable current ranking system.
After its purchase of the Hendon Mob database in July 2013, the GPI is also now the largest poker data collection website as well.
Instead of sticking with just one index for the whole poker world, the GPI has now invented two additional rankings: the “Player of the Year” ranking and the “Challenger Cup."
The latter focuses on tournaments with low-to-mid buy-ins up to $2,000 to support the best players who might not be able to afford higher-priced main events.
The best “challengers” from Europe, North America and Asia will be presented at the annual European Poker Awards ceremony and they will receive packages to major live tournaments.
The concept seems to work. A lot of websites have adopted the GPI’s rankings and show them via widgets on their own index pages.
About 1,500 casinos in over 90 countries now transfer tournament results to the GPI.
“We wanted to find a way to show who the best poker player is,” says GPI CEO Alex Dreyfus.
“We came to the conclusion that it's the player who has shown the best results over the last three years, factoring in buy-in and field size.”
Players Who Win Long Term Get Most Recognition
Tracked and monitored tournaments start, theoretically, at $1. The higher the buy-in, the more points you can score.
The maximum buy-in is capped at $20,000 as otherwise tournaments with ridiculously high buy-ins like the $1m Big One for One Drop would falsify the rankings significantly.
The classic money rankings used to be led by the winners of the WSOP main events -- even if these players had never won anything else. The GPI is trying to minimize the effect of single tournaments.
“There's also an aging factor," continues Dreyfus. “Every couple of months the points scored for a single event go down until they drop out after 36 months.”
The result is that players who continue to score good results over a longer time span get the most recognition -- not the guy who wins the tournament with the biggest payout.
Players Want Recognition, Casinos Want Ink
Part of the early success of the GPI is, of course, owed to one feature that characterizes pretty much all of humanity: vanity. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Casinos want to be in the media. They want their results published so they voluntarily send the data to the GPI.
As a result the Malta-based company doesn’t have much “collecting” to do and still gets plenty of data. It's still not enough.
Dreyfus adds: “We receive complaints from poker players every day, saying that their results in this or that tournament were not published.”
On the other hand, of course, there is a multitude of players who don’t like to see their names published.
They either fear issues with the tax authorities or think it might harm their general reputation if they are seen as gamblers. For these, Dreyfus has a clear answer:
“We get requests to delete results, but we never do it. Poker tournaments are public events.
"If you enter a poker tournament, you have to accept that you will be exposed. If you don’t want to be mentioned, just don’t play.
"On the other hand we don't publish, for example, the ROI of players. We don’t want to harm anyone and it wouldn’t serve our purpose.
"Poker is show business. We need exposure, and we need storytelling. If we want the mainstream media to be interested, we need one unified ranking system like they have in golf or tennis.
"They might not want to talk about money either, but the numbers are public like the names.”
American Poker Awards in 2015
One example for storytelling for the mainstream media is the invention of the “American Poker Awards."
Having acquired the European Poker Awards this year the GPI now has the right to model similar contests on the European original.
The American Poker Awards will be held for the first time in February 2015 in Los Angeles, and of course the organizers are hoping to get recognition from magazines and TV stations other than ESPN.
Another example is the plan to host a special series of sit-and-go events called the Global Poker Masters, where the four best players of the year before representing the nine most successful poker nations will meet up to determine the best poker country of the year.
Details have yet to be published.
Tourneys Like Battle of Malta Bring Amateurs to Live Game
With the WPT, the Deepstack Poker Tour and several smaller poker tours in North America the GPI has managed to convince a lot of poker organizers to come on board
Its newest achievement on the international circuit is the invention of three different rankings for the European Poker Tour named Gold, Silver, and Bronze.
The rankings again focus on different buy-in levels (<€600, €600-€20,00, >€2,000). They were established first for the inaugural event of EPT’s Season 11, the EPT Barcelona.
The first group of leaders are Marcelo Gustavo Caceres (Bronze), Gleb Kovtunov (Silver) and Fedor Holz (Gold).
Top of the list now, Dreyfus says, is to get academies and coaching sites like Ivey Poker on board. Dreyfus is optimistic as mutual promotion will lead to a win-win-situation.
The different levels of rankings also point to a larger focus on mid-stakes and low-stakes players. Says Dreyfus:
“I am very supportive of €550 buy-in tournaments like the Deepstack tour and the Battle of Malta, because they help bring amateur players from online to live poker.”
The winner of this year's Battle of Malta, for example, will have a significant impact on the Challenger Cup leaderboard.
GPI Widget Here to Stay
Critics of the GPI are wary of a monopoly situation but that danger doesn’t really exist.
Poker media institutions like Card Player or Bluff Magazine will always keep their own ranking systems for Player of the Year.
When it comes to online poker, PocketFives has a very stalwart community and a long established ranking system as well.
There's no reason all can't exist side by side. But when it comes to live events, it seems likely that the GPI widget is here to stay.