In just three days the inaugural Global Poker Masters - a "World Cup of Poker" - will take place at the Hilton Hotel in Malta.
The list of players that will take part in Year One is impressive to say the least.
Olivier Busquet and Vanessa Selbst (US). Sam Trickett and Simon Deadman (UK). Sorel Mizzi and Jonathan Duhamel (CAN).
Maybe the world's best tournament player at the moment, Ole Schemion (GER).
Bertrand Grospellier (FRA), Eugene Katchalov (UKR), Phil Gruissem and Marvin Rettenmaier (GER).
It can't not be good with Ole.
The names on each of the eight teams representing the eight "most successful" nations in poker are unprecedented.
Over the two days of the event everyone will play against everyone in different games and formats. Skill will decide the overall champion rather than luck.
Sounds amazing, doesnt it? Still, doubts about the GPM's chances of "success" remain.
Why? We're not quite sure.
Team Events Die Hard
As most detractors of the GPM have pointed out the track record for team poker events is not a pretty one.
None have lasted long. There have been Nations Cups (Austria, UK), Genting Team Events (England), even World Team Cups (online/cruise ships and so on).
Remember Dream Team Poker? Didn't think so.
Remember the Caesars Cup at WSOP Europe, where teams of two players played alternately on every street?
Not hard to see why that didn’t work.
Does anyone even remember World Team Poker? Dream Team Poker?
The overwhelming excuse for the lack of success is that the individualist quality of poker and the dissonance between "teaming up" and "not colluding" makes team poker a gimmick.
Alex Dreyfus and the GPI see things differently. As he's said, to paraphrase, "just because sex was bad the first time doesn't mean you stop trying."
Shot Clocks, an EPT, Live Streaming on Twitch ... What's Not to Love?
This time, at the Global Poker Masters, things really are different.
Teams were chosen for their rankings and results rather than their names (although some top players who qualified did decline to play).
Sponsors are on board, real-time live streaming (in 5 languages) is happening on Twitch.tv and a 30-second shot clock will ensure plenty of action.
All of this is also going on in the midst of the EPT's first foray to Malta with a stunning 68 events on the schedule and 24/7 cash games.
Could that be enough to make it work this time?
If you build it and support it, it will work.
If it isn't, well ... we don't deserve it.
It'll Work If We Make It Work
The debate circling the Global Poker Masters since its announcement has centered around exactly that question - will it work this time?
At PokerListings.com we say that's the wrong question. The question should be: Why wouldn't it be a success? And how can we make it an even bigger success?
Much like the American Poker Awards, many approached the APAs initially with doubt and negativity. In the end, though, the event was a spectacular success.
Why? Because people put aside their doubts and supported it. Support begets success.
The situation's the same with the Global Poker Masters. If the poker community chooses to support it, it will be a success - regardless of its overall impact in the mainstream.
To chime in on the debate, though, the international PokerListings editors addressed the question of whether the inaugural GPM will be "tops" or "a flop."
Here are their thoughts; what are yours? Let us know in the comments.
I like the idea of new competitions for poker, and “World Cup” always sounds exciting to all sports and games lovers. The line-up also looks really exciting, promising epic games between some of the top players in the world. The Twitch broadcast will also add some value.
Nevertheless the format maybe looks a bit too complicated, and I’m not sure it will be that a big thing that will manage to get lot of exposure outside the poker world and community.
In France Patrick Bruel will make some headlines but I think it is still too early for poker to manage to get mainstream. However this will be a great and interesting challenge for the GPI in the years to come. I say: flop.
Fred Guillemot, PokerListings France
I must say that the idea is certainly fascinating. For a long time it was believed that it was not possible to establish a reliable ranking of the best players in poker tournaments but the GPI managed to create a formula with which all or most agree.
In my opinion the first edition of the GPI Masters can be completed in only two ways: either in a huge success or a resounding flop. If I have to bet about it I prefer to be positive, so I say: top.
Francesco Esposito, PokerListings Italy
Poker is an individual game, that's why all attempts to establish team events failed in the past. Nevertheless the idea of Alex Dreyfus to establish a poker ranking system is great and has become considerably overdue.
It will be interesting to see the best tournament players compete against each other. What I don’t agree with is that poker is a sport, as for me it is a game, and that sportifying poker will lead to a new poker boom.
Coming back to the GPA it was a very smart move to broadcast the event live on the internet, because Twitch is quickly becoming the new poker platform and it is a good way to attract more attention. However, it won’t be enough to prevent this event from being a flop.
Lars Liedtke, PokerListings Germany
It’s only a nice brand and fun time for top players during poker festival. Technically, poker is not a game for teams, and the trophy for the win won’t have the status of a real world cup.
Also for the players it’s a waste of time and money, one time they will participate but not more. Only if they and we receive some super action poker the GPM might get a second chance in the future. I say: flop.
Artur Kurvits, PokerListings Russia
Although poker is not a team game, I think it could be something new for the game to prove that this is a skill sport. Players can follow strategies with the rest of their teams, and this will show that poker is not gambling.
I don´t completely agree with the decision of keeping the tournament free of promotions because then the participation of chosen players is not always possible and it will be impossible to create the team with best players per countries.
Many are sceptic about this tournament, but I think it’s going to be very successful because there will also be Twitch live streaming, and this will bring more followers.
Esther Amores, PokerListings Spain
Combining the Global Poker Masters with EPT Malta will make the event a success. Due to this the best players will be there, the poker media will be there too and the prestige will be high.
Prestige also counts for poker players nowadays. My only concern is the format which seems a bit too complicated to catch the attention of the mainstream media. Still, I will say: top!
Thomas Hviid, PokerListings Denmark
I’m very excited to see the outcome and the concept behind the Global Poker Masters. Personally, I believe it’s going to be a poker event like any other.
Considering the weak PR strategies, I am sure it will take a couple of years for the event to receive its recognition within the international poker community. So far, no need for any big expectations.
Denni Balic, PokerListings Sweden
Compared to earlier team events, this one is much more serious. The players are selected according to their ranking on the GPI, not randomly chosen by a jury, and Twitch will give everyone the chance to follow it in real time, which has never been possible before.
Also, it’s happening during an EPT festival, which will give it some extra attention, and GPI’s Alex Dreyfus has shown he knows how to make events a success. Just think of the APA. I say: top.
Dirk Oetzmann, Senior Editor, PokerListings Europe