Rant: Too Many Americans, Not Enough Players and No Alex Dreyfus?

Alexandre Dreyfus
If you don't think Alex Dreyfus is powerful, you're not reading the LA Times enough.

If you created a list of the 20 most powerful people in poker, whom would you choose and why?

I’m glad that I wasn’t one of the 60 industry experts chosen to cast their votes in the BLUFF Power 20 because in all honesty I don’t think I would have been able to even choose 10 of them.

It’s just not my bag. My tiny brain cannot compute the magnitude of the poker universe. That’s why I’m not an expert.

But there is one thing for sure. It would have included the owner of the Global Poker Index (GPI) and The Hendon Mob, Alexandre Dreyfus.

The Poker World Still Functions Outside the U.S.

EPT abayabay!
When the guillotine fell on US, Euro poker thrived.

From what I can gather the instructions handed down to the 60 industry insiders are short and sweet:

“Vote for the 20 most powerful people in poker in order #1 to #20 based on how you define powerful.”

When you look at the list several things stand out. Actually, that’s not true … one thing stands out. The home of the free and the land of the brave.

Yes the country that is so self important that it creates sporting events with the word ‘world’ in the title and then doesn’t invite any teams from any other country absolutely dominates the rankings.

The rankings were swayed by the opinion that the most important component to the future growth of poker is the inclusion of an online poker industry in the United States of America.

Freeman, Loveman, Garber, Breitling, Mattingley, Burnett, Lesniak, Rebuck, Garber and co. were probably selected for many reasons but the re-introduction of online poker to the States must have been at the forefront of the industry insiders' minds.

But the poker world still functions outside of the United States, thank you. When the guillotine fell on the neck of stateside online poker we still managed to survive.

No Coincidence GPI Rankings in LA Times

Vanessa Selbst
Selbst power looms large.

Talking to Sam Trickett at WPT Venice he told me that he would much prefer to win a European Poker Tour (EPT) event than a World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet because they have become more prestigious.

The fields are huge, the talent is incredible and the money floating around is more than enough to keep our poker economy afloat.

And underpinning this poker world of ours is the Global Poker Index (GPI). The ranking system that defines our stars and fluffs up their egos whilst doing a vitally important job of promoting poker throughout the world.

The creation of Fantasy Poker Manager, and the way the GPI is set up, touches everything people know and understand about sport.

It’s no coincidence that the GPI rankings were squeezed into the sports pages alongside the NBA, NHL and NFL leagues in the Los Angeles Times during my recent visit.

That’s the hard work of Dreyfus. The man who is set up to take over the world of poker from a reporting and distribution sense.

It won’t be long before every player in the world has his or her own unique identification number and every live and online tournament in the world is fed through the GPI mincer.

So how is that not powerful?

Why No Selbst, Galfond or Gruissem?

Philipp Gruissem2013 WSOP EuropeEV0725K NLH High RollerFinal TableGiron8JG3105
What about the work Phil Gruiisem is doing?

Is it because he is European?

Do we have the same issue going on with the BLUFF 20 Power list as we do with the Poker Hall of Fame? A voting system that seems to be heavily dominated by the opinions of Americans?

And why do we only have one player on that list? Aren’t our players powerful? Why isn’t Vanessa Selbst on that list?

Female poker players represent a huge market for the industry and Selbst’s continued success, behavior and forthright opinions are like a homing beacon for our industry.

She is one of the most talented poker players to ever grace our game and she is the flag bearer for a million women who don’t have the courage to sit down at the table and compete with the Neanderthals amongst us.

And then you have Phil Galfond. Where is Phil Galfond?

Has anybody not noticed that when Galfond writes a blog entry to express his opinion on the state of poker that the world stops spinning on its axis?

Phil Galfond
Who are these insiders, anyway?

And what about the work that Philipp Gruissem is doing over in Uganda where he is giving his poker winnings to young African children who have worms in their stomachs the length of motorway systems?

In a game that is tarnished week-in-week-out by the cheats of the game how powerful is it to learn that we have people like Gruissem willing to give it all away?

Who are These 60 Industry Insiders Anyway?

Perhaps it’s a little early for Gruissem to make a charge but my point remains that our player base still remains powerful and they have a role to play alongside the politicians, head honchos and rule makers of the online poker construct in the heart of the US of A.

And who were these 60 industry insiders anyway? Why is the list kept hidden from our eyes?

Is it because the poker world will see that the list is primarily made up of Americans all voting for people who have influence over the American system?

Let us take a look at the names. Don't be shy.

I am starving and could do with a large slice of humble pie.

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shaking head at shaking head 2014-03-27 15:19:26

Hello Bluff editor! Thanks for weighing in, should have put your name on it though.

Your definition of "power" seems to be from the 1980s. Maybe even the 50s! Casino executives are marginal "power players" - even in their own casinos - at best. Popular players, for example, who are exposed on TV virtually everywhere and can basically inspire a whole wave of players to enter the game for years, are where "power" lies in poker. What's Gary Loveman have anything to do with the game at all, really?

shaking head 2014-03-27 13:34:01

Very strange article. Does the author even know what "power" means?

The main problem with the Bluff 20 is that it sometimes includes the kind of trivial people the author thinks should be included. Players have no meaningful amount of power in the poker industry. Vanessa Selbst has "power"? No.

And the GPI, really, what a joke. "power" does not mean "interesting".

By far the 20 most powerful poker people work for online poker companies or casinos. Nobody else is in that league. If you want to write a list of interesting people, that is completely different

mat 2014-03-24 18:09:28

I loved the HOF Power20 comparison. u made some great points

Walter White 2014-03-24 17:36:19


Wally 2014-03-24 14:44:37

nice piece but you know galfond and selbst are americans right?

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