While it’s easy to get cynical about the overall state of poker it’s good to remember there are still some true innovators in the business.
Alexandre Dreyfus would fall into that category.
The Frenchman has either owned or been involved with a variety of companies including ChiliPoker, Winamax, iGamingFrance.com, Global Poker Index, FantasyPokerManager and now Hendon Mob.
Most recently Dreyfus has been the driving force between the GPI, which has taken over as the de facto ranking system for poker players.
“I believe that the vision I had a year ago is right and will start to pay off soon,” said Dreyfus.
“Poker players are looking for recognition and that’s what we do. GlobalPokerIndex provides a leaderboard and official rankings both globally and locally. Everything is about engaging the recreational players – that’s the key – and that’s our role.”
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Dreyfus believes that poker is at a unique point in its history and there will be widespread change over the next few years.
“I believe that, like in any industry or life, there are cycles,” he said.
“We are at the end of the golden age of poker, both online and live. Does it mean it’s the end? Of course not. I wouldn’t invest millions, literally, if I thought so.
“It’s just different and we are now starting to build a real industry, one that will be there for another decade. There is no room anymore for easy money, it’s a challenge and only committed people will survive.”
Dreyfus’ GPI recently announced the acquisition of HendonMob, which gives the GlobalPokerIndex access to the most comprehensive results database in the poker industry.
“It was in the pipe for almost eight months,” said Dreyfus.
“HendonMob is the most accurate player database and I foresee a lot of opportunities for the poker world to invest in data and to make it stronger and stronger. The site also offers one of the strongest U.K. poker playing communities.
“Now with GPI and HendonMob we are now reaching more than two million poker players every year.”
Dreyfus went on to say they plan to keep both brands and market HendonMob as the ultimate poker database while GPI will be more about authority/ranking.
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Perhaps the biggest validation for Dreyfus yet came earlier this month when the European Poker Tour announced it would be using the GPI's advanced ranking system for its POY.
Dreyfus takes it as a point of pride.
“It took me exactly 12 months, day-for-day to achieve that,” he said.
“You can't convince a leading company to adjust their strategy based on your dreams or crazy thoughts. It took a year but I think the industry started to see where we were coming from.
“I believe that in 2014, a lot of poker rooms and tours will use GPI as Player of the Year/Leaderboard, in order to make their life easier and help promote poker players.”
Despite being a long-time veteran, Dreyfus is still enthusiastic about the poker industry.
“I like the challenge of it,” he explained.
“When I launched Winamax in France, it was six years before the French regulation. When I launched Chilipoker, I always tried to innovate and be different, that's my role.”
Dreyfus went on to sell Chilipoker to Bally Technologies last year to help form the framework for an impending U.S.-facing online poker site.
“I can't count how many people told me to not do GPI and to quit poker,” he said.
“Everybody thinks poker is dying? Let them think that and let guys like me take opportunities and build bigger opportunities.”
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Dreyfus believes it will take a long time for online poker in the U.S. to approach pre-Black Friday levels again, if ever again.
“Does it mean we need to give up on poker? Of course not,” he said.
“Money was easy five or 10 years ago, now we need to be smarter and work harder to make it happen. I see poker evolving, growing and we need to stop comparing poker as it was before. It will never be. It will be better, in many ways.”
Dreyfus continues to push GPI as the hub for poker and believes it will be his legacy to the game.
In broader terms, Dreyfus believes the only constant in poker over the next 5-10 years will be change.
“It will change, there’s no doubt,” he aid. “A lot of cards will be shuffled. Like any industry, consolidation is happening, on many levels.
“We need to bring new players. We need to educate these players. It started with a shady industry and we are all working to make it a shiny industry. I can say that a lot of the people in the industry that have been here for the last five or 10 years will not be here in the next five years or so.”