GPI's Alex Dreyfus: It's the Right Time to Start Sportifying Poker

Published on 20 November 2014 by Pokerlistings 476
Two and a half years ago Alex Dreyfus bought the Global Poker Index with the intention of making it the worldwide standard for poker rankings. He now says he's accomplished that goal and is looking forward to making poker a mainstream sport. Dreyfus competed in the PokerListings Battle of Malta, the biggest poker event in Malta's history, and says the event's low buy-in and major-tournament feel are a key way poker brands can attract new players to the game. Dreyfus says it's a format that's largely missing from the European tournament scene but that globally it's actually the fastest-growing style of poker event. Dreyfus goes on to explain his new projects the Global Poker Masters and the Global Poker League, two new initiatives to make poker more marketable to a mainstream audience. Through both events Dreyfus hopes to create a system where the best poker players in the world don't have to buy-in to major events, but can instead compete for big prizes supported by team owners and advertising sponsors, similar to professional golf. Check out the full interview and stay tuned for more interviews and highlights from the 2014 Battle of Malta.
Well, I'm super excited about the Battle of Malta because it's the second year that I've been, I've seen it, of course, and the outcome in the numbers of people is crazy, it's amazing. I live in Malta since eight years, it's the first time that you see an event like that, so much attraction, so I think at the end, it's a great experience for the players, a great value for the players, and I think for PokerListing, it was amazing. I do believe that during the last 10 years, the range of the poker tournament in terms of buy-ins changed a lot, and thanks to Hendon Mob, that's because I own them, I own the data, I can tell you that all the 500 euro or 500 dollars buy-in, actually, the growing segment is the growing market today. And PokerListing, Battle of Malta, is a very good example, there's a few others in Europe and a little bit in US, but in Europe, especially, there is few others, and I think it's needed for casual players.

You know, we all claim that we need to bring more casual players in the poker tank or in the poker ranking system, and this kind of event is all made for them. So GPI is actually a company that I bought two years ago, and the goal is to spotify poker, so the aim is to promote poker differently, and to promote poker as a sport. One of the things we decided to do was to start with the ranking, to become the official ranking authority for the poker players, for the poker media, and for the sports media. After two years and a half, I kind of claim that is the case. Now, the next step was actually to organize poker events that are not gambling events, that are not, even that, where you and I, we can play, only professionals. So we announced two events, the first one is the global poker masters, which is going to be held in Malta, it's going to be announced very soon, it's the World Cup of poker, so we can have the top eight nations competing by a team of five players, and it's going to be the top five players of the GPI more or less. So we are going to have team USA, team Canada, team France, team Italy playing against each other for two days, and the goal is to create a sports formatted poker event in order to promote that on sports websites, that's the first thing.

The second thing is the Global Poker League, GPL. Same story, if we want to promote poker differently, if you want to have heroes, if you want to have starification of players, you need to have product, event, where there is these big names, and they're not competing only for money. So we decided to create the league and you're going to have six to eight franchises playing during four to five live events in the world, It's not going to be in one place, and it's going to be only players that are going to be draftable in the GPI 300, like in any American kind of sports thing, plus wildcards. So we try to make something a bit unique that exists in the past, we don't invent anything, but I believe it's the right timing to do it now. The idea is definitely that the player will not buy-in in any event, so in the case of the masters, it's going to be, World Cup of poker, the money is going to be added by sponsors, that's what we're working on right now, so that's the first thing. For the Global Poker League,the money's going to come in from the team owner. Let's say that I'm a team owner, I own the Clippers, or the Rangers, or the Kings, and I could be a player myself, but I cannot play in my team, so we really want to disconnect the team ownership, and the players that are going to play in these events.

The team owners or the franchise are all going to pay for a fee to the league. We're going to pull this money, and we're going to add on the top of it, non-gaming sponsoring revenue, and that's a very long journey, that's very difficult, but I think it's the right format to make this happen. There's a lot of people asking me, "Is it the right thing to do? Is it the right moment to do it?" I don't know, I believe in it, I'm an entrepreneur at the end, I'm spending my own money to make it happen, eventually, there's just one initiative, one seed to help poker to grow. That's not the solution, that's not a miracle, that's not whatever, but it's one of the things that makes sense for poker. It's very challenging for everybody to support that, but we are very lucky because today, we are endorsed by the players, by the media, and by most of the industry's stakeholders like EPT, WPT, and WSOP. I'm a strong believer, but it's a two, three, four, five years' plan.