Global Poker League: The Missing Link to Poker's Pot of Gold

gpm all teams2
The missing link to mainstream sponsorship?

The poker world is an ever-changing landscape.

Only last week this happened:

1. Chinese police shut down the APPT Nanjing Millions – a reminder that poker has a long way to go

2. Ireland opened up to licensing to gaming operators – another reminder of the constant changing legal situations

3. Full Tilt removed its high-stakes tables – an important signal where the future is heading from the site that made nosebleed levels its claim to fame

4. Christian Lusardi got five years in prison – but not for the fake chips he put in circulation at the Borgata Winter Poker Open and the rest that he tried to flush down the toilet. For that he got no punishment or sentence. Yes, it was part of a plea-bargain, but I don't like the signal it sends. Not one bit

5. Guy Laliberté sold Cirque du Soleil for $1.5 billion. Could this be a good injection at the top of the poker pyramid when Guy has both time and money on his hands?

One thing that could top all above in significance is the announcement of the Global Poker League by Alex Dreyfus.

That is, if he succeeds. But I have a feeling he will.

Can You See How Everything Works Together?

The Global Poker League is a team poker concept where there are owners of the teams, like for example in the NBA and NFL, who invest money and hope to get a positive return.

Alex Dreyfus 3
Alex Drefyus

According to Dreyfus four team owners have already committed for more years than one.

The league will have a 10-week season with teams of seven players each and a possibility to implement real team strategies.

The team owners, in a draft format, will choose the first players. They have to choose three from the highest rankings of the Global Poker Index, two “wild cards” and the last two will qualify through specific live or online events.

Can you see how everything works together?

I'm Sure We'll Be Pleasantly Surprised

I had the same vision when I came up with the defining concept for Pokermiljonen, the longest-running poker show on Swedish television.

I told the production company Jarowskij that every heat should consist of two pros for credibility, two online qualifiers to pay for it all and two celebrities for the PR.

 Ole Schemion 2
More importantly it's a freeroll for the players.

With a million for first prize of course -- 10 times the sum they were thinking of.

The Global Poker League hasn't announced any numbers but I'm sure we will all be pleasantly surprised.

More importantly is that it will all be a freeroll for the players. The owners will take care of all the bills, including travel and hotel.

The Global Poker League will put up the prize pool with the owners. I'm sure it will attract many of the best players.

Players as a group have also grown the last 10 years.

The Big Problem is Creating Household Names

Phil Ivey
Chance to play with Ivey looms large.

I remember in 2005 when I was a part of a Swedish team with some of the online sensations back then.

The kids actually quit the team because they didn't like the terms of getting only 50% of the gross winnings in live tournaments -- even though the sponsor paid 100%.

To succeed in taking poker mainstream you need three things.


  • Entertainment value for the masses. No problem here. Poker on TV is a great and proven product. Live stream like Twitch makes the possibilities bigger than ever.
    • To keep the dream alive for the viewers. No problem here. Qualification events exist and the chances of playing poker with Phil Ivey are endlessly bigger than playing golf with Tiger Woods.
    • To create household names. This is a big problem. There is a lot of luck in poker. Even 10 tournaments with the same 100 stars would not be sufficient to build adequate characters. 

No doubt (to paraphrase Mike Sexton) the people behind the World Poker Tour understand this problem.

Let me speculate about the abnormal amount of repeat winners on the first season of the WPT some other time.

The End Result is Power for Poker

With team poker you cut down the number of players and can create recognition and identification of players by the audience.

That's the last piece of the puzzle. It's always been the missing link between the great TV product Poker and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow – mainstream corporate sponsorship.

What it takes is that someone puts a lot of time and money to make others believe.

Alexandre Dreyfus
That someone is Alex Dreyfus.

That someone is Alex Dreyfus and he is digging deep into his pockets and credibility to make it happen.

I believe in the Global Poker League. Dreyfus has a vision to “sportify” poker. I'm sure you think it sounds like a good idea, but have you reflected over what it really could mean?

I believe it's the best way to make poker accepted in wider circles, get it mainstream, and get companies to put money into the poker instead of just taking out all the time.

The end result is power for poker and we really need that when the legal landscapes around the world are repainted and defined for the future.

About Ken Lennaárd:

Sweden's most controversial poker blogger Ken Lennaárd has been around the professional poker circuit for almost 20 years. Among his numerous accomplishments are Swedish Championships both live and online, three WSOP final tables and over $1.5m in live earnings. He's now bringing his singular poker voice to the English world via Look for new posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Note: Opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not represent the views of

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