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  1. In just two years, the Global Poker Index (GPI) has made huge strides in positioning itself as the authority on poker rankings. But that was only one piece of the puzzle, never the end game. Now, CEO Alexandre Dreyfus has announced the next step in GPI's plan to "sportify" poker and bring the game a whole new level of exposure. --- PocketFives' news coverage is brought to you by William Hill Poker, one of the largest skins on the iPoker Network. The poker room offers a generous welcome package including a 200% deposit bonus up to $2,000 and a superb VIP program. PocketFivers will love playing in the site's €1 million guaranteed iPOPS series, which runs through November 9. Visit William Hill today! --- In a recent blog post, the serial entrepreneur laid out his plans to fully capitalize on the "genuine legitimacy" that GPI rankings have achieved. The first comes in the form of the Global Poker Masters (GPM), the company's vision for a World Cup of Poker. Slated to be held in early 2015, Dreyfus explains that the GPM will bring together the top eight poker countries in the world. The team of each country will be comprised of five of that nation's top poker players and events will be live-streamed across the web through different media outlets. "We have clear precedents: tennis has the Davis Cup, football has the World Cup, and poker has the Global Poker Masters," he said. "On a personal level, I can't wait to see what happens when 'Team France' runs into 'Team USA.'" The last, and most "risky" part to GPI's plan is to create a professional poker league structured similarly to other major sports franchises. Dubbed the Global Poker League (GPL), teams will compete during a series of live events over the course of a season. Initially, six to eight teams will be created under the direction of a franchise owner, with the first season taking place over three to four months. "Unlike the Global Poker Masters… GPL teams will consist of 'draftable' players from GPI's rankings and wildcard entries," continued Dreyfus (pictured). "I've already presented this concept and terms for participation to a number of prospective future team owners." The GPI CEO understands that turning an inherently individualistic game like poker into a team sport could be a tough sell, but he is confident that the idea will catch on. "Reception has been warm across the board and we've already had a number of commitments from intrigued future 'franchise' owners," he said. "Commitments from leading figures from in front of and behind the felt are rolling in too." To back up the rationale behind his big gamble, Dreyfus was quick to point out the huge mainstream success that other individualistic "sports" have had. "NASCAR is owned by one family, Formula1 is owned by Bernie Ecclestone," he told PokerNews. "We, as the GPI, can own poker in this very specific vertical. I believe it's possible and I think the GPI is also fully legitimate to have that role." Dreyfus believes that star poker players and big events are undervalued and not reaching their marketing potential. "Let's say that you will be the owner of one team and that the project will go well and it will get the exposure we want it to get from mainstream sports media," he said. "This would open to a lot of marketing opportunities for you. You could turn your team into a brand or get big international companies to sign sponsorship deals that you, as the team's owner, would definitely benefit from." To achieve the exposure he believes poker deserves, Dreyfus wants to make sure to stay away from associating the game purely with money and online grinders who view the game is nothing more than a job. "That's not what mainstream media care about," he said. Using its poker rankings as the backbone for its future ventures, the GPI could be well on its way to turning poker into a game with mass-market sports appeal. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed.
  2. Last week, the first ever American Poker Conference preceding the American Poker Awards took place in Los Angeles. A four-panel agenda featuring some of the brightest and most visible minds in the industry led to a few takeaways, which I wanted to share. Live Streams Are Mandatory If you're running a live event, a live stream isn't optional. As DeepStacks Poker Tour's Chris Torina put it, "A poker room should never run an event without social media and a live stream." A live stream results in players and viewers marketing the event for you. Free marketing ftw! Similarly, having commentators who can relate to the audience is critical. As Twitch streamer extraordinaire Jason Somerville put it, when "poker coaches" commentate on live streams, what results is complex analysis that's not relatable to the masses. Read more about dumbing down poker television and live streams. Somerville is an absolute master at relating to the general public. Integrate Live and Online If you don't already know, the World Series of Poker is holding an online bracelet event this year. Across the Atlantic, Dusk Till Dawn has partnered with PartyPoker for an 18-starting day tournament taking place both live and online. These two examples illustrate how you can successfully integrate online poker with land-based casinos. As bracelet winner and longtime PocketFiver Jon Friedberg (pictured) put it during one panel, "Ultimate Poker is an example of what happens when you don't utilize your land-based customer base." The site failed in not one, but two states despite being connected to UFC and Station Casinos. Moreover, integrating live and online poker will bring in new blood, similar to the boom of a decade ago. As conference organizer Alex Dreyfus summarized, "The best tool to acquire new players at a live casino is online poker." Be Careful What You Wish For We've all been clamoring for regulated online poker in the US. And while that's already occurred in three states, regulators have slowed the process of development and promotion rather dramatically. As illustrated by Jeffrey Haas of bwin.party, "overly strict" regulations in New Jersey have made the process of rolling out software updates and bug fixes exceedingly difficult. Giving players what they want can take months due to needing regulatory approval. Haas said New Jersey regulators "care about everything," which is "fantastic for consumer protection," but suffocates software development time. Neil Johnson of the European Poker Tour explained that creating a multi-country tour, which would be similar to creating a multi-state tour in the US, was anything but simple: "You have to work with each regulator to explain live and online poker." So, while we're all pulling for regulated online poker, we should be wary of over-regulation. Stop the Rebuys The final panel of the day in LA featured four high-profile players discussing their vision for the future of tournament poker. One of the main topics discussed was the impact of rebuys, with Somerville saying that the more rebuys a player is allowed, the more the event favors pros. The consensus overall was that being able to buy in once per day, as opposed to unlimited times per day, was optimal. At one point, Daniel Negreanu (pictured) reminded the audience that he once bought in 50 times to a $1,000 rebuy at the WSOP, illustrating the advantage he has due to his deep pockets. Multi-entry tournaments, similarly, have become commonplace. Regarding quantum reloads, Mohsin Charania, who was on the same panel, explained that the reaction by players to Quantum Reloads was "mixed." He added, "For an amateur player it's not advantageous." California Could Take a While Finally, I wanted to discuss California, the holy grail of online poker markets in the US. When asked for the year in which we'd see the first hand of regulated online poker dealt in California, the responses by panelists were 2016, 2017, 2020, and 2022. By the time a bill is passed, sites are created, and regulatory hurdles are overcome, it could be many years before we're discussing regulated California online poker. Therefore, don't hold your breath. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  3. On Friday, PocketFives was privileged to be in attendance for the first ever American Poker Awards, held at the SLS Hotel in Los Angeles. Two-hundred and fifty of the brightest and most influential minds in the industry, along with a cavalcade of players, descended upon a ballroom for a four-hour event featuring booze, chicken, and flatulence. Oh yeah, there were awards given out too. Kara Scott served as the host. The first accolade set the stage for the night, with Brandon Shack-Harris accepting his award for Breakout Player in the Year and delivering a speech that included "I have to thank Dan Colman for his leftovers" and "I'm going to try not to fart." Never a dull moment. Awards were given out in groups of four in between meal courses and in case you missed the parade of Tweets, here's who won, courtesy of PokerListings: Lifetime Achievement Award: WPT founder Steve Lipscomb Best Ambassador: Daniel Negreanu GPI Player of the Year: Dan Colman GPI Female Player of the Year: Vanessa Selbst Industry Person of the Year: Adam Pliska, WPT President Tournament Performance of the Year: Mark Newhouse, WSOP Main Event Breakout Player of the Year: Brandon Shack-Harris Event of the Year (buy-in over $2,000): WSOP Main Event Event of the Year (buy-in under $2,000): WSOP Monster Stack Innovation of the Year: Twitch Charitable Initiative of the Year: All In for Kids Media Content of the Year: Brad Willis, "Stages / Never Stop Fighting" Media Person of the Year: Chris Grove, Online Poker Report Chris Grove was at our table and passed around the award after he won. Yes, it was heavy, in case you're wondering, and for Grove, was well-deserved. Steve Lipscomb brought up an entourage that included Mike Sexton, Linda Johnson, Adam Pliska, and Vince Van Patten to accept his award, while Brad Willis' Media Content of the Year win seemed unexpected, as it went up against Jason Somerville's "Run it Up" series. Willis was not in attendance. Innovation of the Year going to Twitch's adoption of poker seemed like a no-brainer and Daniel Negreanu winning Best Ambassador cost this author $10. A slew of poker players were in attendance, including Negreanu, Chris Moorman, Mark Newhouse, Sam Trickett, Bertrand Grospellier, Tiffany Michelle, Maria Ho, Jason Mercier, Dan Smith, Mohsin Charania, Somerville, Martin Jacobson, and Tony Dunst, the latter of whom told us that he has been diving head-long into daily fantasy sports on sites like DraftKings as of late. Nolan Dalla, who moderated a panel at the day's industry conference, called the awards "one of the most exciting nights in poker history," while Mike Sexton, whom we chatted it up with on several occasions, said, "Congrats to all winners and losers at the American Poker Awards and thanks to Alex Dreyfus for making it happen." Alex Dreyfus (pictured), a co-founder of Winamax and the head of the Global Poker Index, organized the awards, which we're certain will be renewed for next year. Dreyfus' peers resoundingly praised him throughout the awards and conference for his vision, passion, and devotion to poker. We appreciate being an integral part of the awards. PocketFives co-founder Adam Small was a member of the eight-man jury that selected the winners, while Editor-in-Chief Dan Cypra was a member of the nominating panel. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  4. Mediarex Sports & Entertainment(MSE), the parent company of the Global Poker Index (GPI), announced Tuesday that it had raised$4.9 million in Series A funding from private investors to further its goal of uniting the poker industry's disparate entities and further "sportify" the game. "Poker is an old game, but a young industry," said MSE CEO Alex Dreyfus (pictured) in a press release. "It's a game that continues to grow too." The French entrepreneur claims that the game grew 17% globally from 2012 to 2013, with 2014 live tournament entries increasing 9.4%. Digital interest in poker is also on the rise, according to Dreyfus, up 12% in 2013, 25% in 2014, and 31% in the first half of 2015. Dreyfus acquired GPI in 2012 and has since turned the business into a popular site for poker tournament results and rankings. GPI serves as the official ranking system of the World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour, Asia-Pacific Poker Tour, and many other tours and events. Mediarex also operates the Global Poker Masters, which it describes as poker's World Cup, and drew more than a million viewers on Twitch to watch coverage of its inaugural event last year. After the successful broadcast, Dreyfus took a keen interest in the platform and plans to use some of the recent investment to develop the company's own in-house video streaming production facility. "China will likely be the epicenter of the next poker boom and this time the boom looks to be powered by eSports, the video game, media, and sports industries," said Dreyfus. "Thanks to our new investors, we'll be able to reach new strategic partnerships in China to help develop the sport of poker there, creating a domino effect that has globally positive effects." Indeed, among the list of investors are a Beijing-based private equity fund, investment banker Donald Tang, and Hong Kong businessman Dr. Stanley Choi. During his bid to secure financing, Dreyfus noted how differently poker was viewed in Asia compared with the West. "Most of [the Asian investors], they already see it as a sport," he told PokerNews. "During the last six months, I did meet with a lot of investors from all over the world, from China to the US and Europe, and the majority of them understood the product that I want to create and were keen to invest. The only issue, for some, is that we are at an early stage right now. But I believe there will be a 'snowball effect': once things will start working, more investors will come." MSE hopes that its forthcoming Global Poker League will become the crown jewel of the business. With the GPL, the company will create teams of GPI-ranked players who will face off against each other in a season comprised of different poker events. "Poker is an individual sport, such as tennis or golf," Dreyfus said. "So, if tennis has the Davis Cup and golf has the Ryder Cup, why shouldn't we have our poker league?" The French entrepreneur looked to the Ultimate Fighting Championship for inspiration for his own league. He highlights how UFC creates narratives around fighters who engage the audience and increase interest in the league's different characters. "We will spend millions to do that and to invest in the image of the players that will be part of our League," assured Dreyfus. "This will all be done to create that kind of engagement that we believe will make the competition interesting to watch and, consequently, drive more people to the poker world." Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  5. In what was a wide-ranging three-hour discussion, the Chief Executive Officer of Mediarex Sports & Entertainment and the man behind the Global Poker Index, Alex Dreyfus (pictured), offered his vision to a few hundred video conference attendees on Twitch. That vision? "Sportifying" poker through what Dreyfus is calling the Global Poker League. Check out Part 1and Part 2 of the discussion. The first hour and fifteen minutes was Dreyfus detailing much of what he has previously said in other outlets and press releases. Testing out the philosophies through the Global Poker Masters, which held its first competition earlier this year, Dreyfus believes that the next step, the Global Poker League, "will duplicate the success of the Masters into a year-round event." "What we want is to create an experience where the fans – not the players – are engaged with it," Dreyfus said in the video presentation. "The only way to do that is to create storylines that last some time." With this in mind, Dreyfus envisioned the Global Poker League. Through a 12-week regular season, the GPL will feature 12 teams divided into two conferences. Six of those teams will make up GPL Americas – Los Angeles, New York, Toronto, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Sao Paulo – with the other six – London, Moscow, Paris, Prague, Barcelona, and Hong Kong – making up GPL EurAsia. "These cities were chosen because they are good markets, plenty of marketing possibilities," Dreyfus noted. The teams will feature owners, who were not revealed during the Q&A period but are expected to be "businessmen, hedge fund managers, and sports owners" that will make an initial two-year commitment. The owners will "draft" three players from the GPI 1000. There will be two "wild card" slots for each team, once again the choice of the owner, to fill out the five-man roster. "This provides a sport element to the proceedings," Dreyfus said. Dreyfus provided a timeline for the inaugural GPL season. The teams will be assembled between December 2015 and February 2016, with the first six weeks of the first GPL season to start thereafter. After a week's break, the second six weeks of the regular season will be contested before the GPL takes a hiatus for the 2016 World Series of Poker. Following the break, the top two Americas teams and the top two EurAsia teams will meet in what Dreyfus calls an "iconic" live setting to determine the Conference Champions and, eventually, the World Champion of the Global Poker League. The league will play in three different formats – online, in a "studio" arena, and in a "live" format – and will also play "innovative" forms of poker that will force the action. While playing in "The Cube" (pictured), an isolation booth, the players will stand, allowing for sponsorship sales on their backs as the fans watch. "We're making this experience a better one for the viewers, allowing for excitement during the event," Dreyfus believes. As to how the fans are going to be able to watch the action, Twitchwas a featured member of the broadcasting group. Dreyfus did not give any further details as to traditional cable or television broadcast companies that may join the GPL team and Dreyfus also held out the possibility that there could be a syndication element. The Q&A that followed Dreyfus' presentation touched on many different subjects, including player compensation, security of the games in non-casino venues, and the potential for a GPL event at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. Dreyfus attempted to be as forthcoming with information as possible, but with the GPL in its infancy, there is still much that isn't figured out. With this said, Dreyfus is aware of how difficult it will be to put everything together regarding the GPL. "I know it sounds impossible, every step seems as if it is impossible," he stated. "But we are going to experiment and sometimes we will fail. But we will find what works to make the GPL an exciting endeavor." Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  6. The Global Poker Index (GPI) and Mediarex Sports & Entertainment (MSE) announced further details about the upcoming Global Poker League (GPL) on Tuesday, part of the GPI's CEO Alex Dreyfus' attempt to "sportify" poker. Not every detail was revealed in the press release issued by MSE, but it did give us a much better idea of how the Global Poker League will work. The first season will begin in the first quarter of 2016 and feature 12 teams of five players each. The league will be comprised of two conferences: the Americas Conference, which is expected to field teams from New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Toronto, and Sao Paolo, and the Eurasia Conference, which will likely consist of London, Paris, Barcelona, Prague, Hong Kong, and Moscow. The first three players on each team will be acquired via a draft and the top 1,000 ranked players in the GPI will be eligible. The remaining two spots on each team will be filled via "Wild Card" players, though no details were given as to how those players will be selected. The teams will compete for "at least" 14 consecutive weeks in matches that will take place online, in live venues, and in television studios. One game type that was revealed is the "duel match," which will consist of 30- to 40-minute timed contests using digital cards and real chips outfitted with RFID technology. The idea is to have many more hands played than normal through the combination of the game clock and technology that will allow for cards to be dealt faster and chips to be counted faster. Details about other game formats were not announced. Players will also be standing throughout the games, which will supposedly provide "a more dynamic approach to game play." The Global Poker League is attempting to make the competitions spectator events and, as such, will be locating them in "iconic venues across the globe" rather than just in casinos. The GPL World Championships "will be staged at one of the most renowned sport and entertainment venues in the USA." Along those lines, the Global Poker League competitions will take place in a specially designed, 20-foot, one-way, sound-proofed, transparent cube called, appropriately enough, "The Cube" (pictured). It will be outfitted with all of the technological trappings to give the live audience a show: LED lighting, 3-D projection mapping, a video screen, and cameras. The goal of this whole thing, as mentioned earlier, is to "sportify" poker, to bring it out of its niche market and get casual sports and entertainment fans involved. It appears that by having teams represent different cities, the hope is that casual poker fans will get emotionally invested in their team even if they don't really know much about the players. As the saying goes, sports fans root for "laundry" rather than individual players, so the Global Poker League is trying to apply the same idea to poker. In a survey of poker fans taken last month, 30% supposedly said that they were interested in buying tickets to GPL events, while 25% said they would buy GPL and team merchandise. Almost two-thirds said they would watch the GPL World Championships. Participants in the Global Poker League will not have to put up their own money to play. Prize money will be derived from various revenue streams like advertising, merchandising, and ticket sales. All contests will be streamed online and some will be broadcast on television. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  7. [CAPTION=100%]The GPL schedule includes the finals in London this November.[/CAPTION] The Global Poker League is one of the most ambitious poker initiatives launched this year. With the inaugural season kicking off in less than a week, organizers announced the full schedule of events, which includes 15 game weeks, 400+ hours of live streamed content and a two-day final held at The SSE Arena in London at Wembley. Poker fans will enjoy six months of battles between the league’s 12 teams, with the first live matches taking place on Tuesday, April 5. The season wraps up with a playoff event in North America and culminates with the GPL Finals on November 22-23. The league hopes to capture the attention of some of the world’s 100 million poker fans by streaming events live on Twitch and on GPL.TV. "While there is a huge existing fan base for poker, it is largely fragmented because of the isolated nature of existing poker initiatives," said GPL founder Alex Dreyfus. "GPL has an aggressive vision to build new storylines and narratives to engage poker fans with the poker stars playing in the league." Season one will unfold in the following four phases: GPL Regular Season: (April 5-September 22) Matches will be held every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday as to not compete with the big weekend games. The contests will be accompanied by an eSports style broadcast, with competitive online matches played out on GPL’s game platform. GPL Summer Series: (June 6-July 8) This phase includes 33 days of heads-up contests filmed live at GPL’s Las Vegas studio. GPL Playoffs: (TBD) The league plays down to four places before heading to the finals. GPL Finals: (November 22-23) The first ever GPL Finals play out live at the SSE Arena in Wembley. The GPL chose Wembley as its final destination due to London’s international flavor and gaming-friendly setting. "London gives us the opportunity to build a fully immersive, interactive experience for the GPL Finals thanks to its regulated online sports betting environment," Dreyfus said. "We are going to connect fans with one another as well as the GPL players at a leading entertainment venue. The experience is more than just 'sit and watch' – it's full engagement." Poker presenter and London Royals manager Liv Boeree was equally excited about the location of the finals. "The SSE Arena has so many great memories for me with all the gigs I’ve seen there, so I’m absolutely chuffed that poker is the first eSports spectator event that will be hosted at this awesome venue," she said. Dreyfus created the league after noticing what he believed was a decline in poker entertainment, while at the same time watching the dynamic eSports industry explode. By "shaking up" the game with innovations like The Cube, a soundproof glass box where players will face off in front of a live audience, Dreyfus believes that the game can experience a new surge of popularity. Tickets for GPL events go on sale in May, with exact dates announced in the near future. You can see the full schedule of events here.
  8. [caption width="640"] Chris Moneymaker is the only GPL manager with a team named for him.[/caption] 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Chris Moneymaker is already credited with being one of the driving forces of poker's explosion in popularity following his win, but over a decade later Moneymaker is part of what he hopes to be a second boom. Moneymaker is heading up the Las Vegas-based Global Poker League team with his last name leading the way, an honor that the former world champ is greatly humbled by. "When you look around at all the great players in today’s game, it’s a huge honor to be one of 12 team owners. It means I am still respected by my peers, and that is very humbling," Moneymaker said, noting that the GPL is something that poker needs to create that "next wave of poker superstars." As an icon of the first poker boom, Moneymaker said he’s been pitched with dozens of poker-related ideas over the last few years but has also been hesitant to get involved in most of them, as he "didn’t believe in the concept or the people behind it." That is not the case with the GPL, as Moneymaker believes wholeheartedly in the brand and the people behind it. "I met with Alex (Dreyfus) a year ago in the infancy of the idea. I think we shared the same vision for the league and what it could do for poker," Moneymaker said. While he was more or less there from the start, he admits that it was "all Alex." "He put all the time, money, and effort into making it a reality," he said. "I truly think that the GPL is a great idea and has the right guy at the helm." While Dreyfus is at the helm of the upstart league, Moneymaker is at the helm of the Las Vegas Moneymakers, a name he is honored by but also thinks "fits well" with Las Vegas and poker culture. Moneymaker doesn't want to look too far into the future, remaining focused on the inaugural season before anything else, a year in which he expects "slow and steady growth," but admits that he wouldn’t be surprised if the GPL became bigger than most expect through the early stages of development. "There has already been extreme interest from the poker community. I think it will be a great thing for poker," he said. Since Moneymaker’s 2003 victory, which took the poker world by storm, the game has grown exponentially. Moneymaker’s hope is that the GPL can have a similar effect on the game that his WSOP win did. It’s impossible to tell whether that will happen, but Moneymaker is willing to do his part and will be using a draft strategy to do just that. "I’m looking for team players first, but also players who will utilize media opportunities to grow the GPL and their respective brands." Moneymaker knows a thing or two about branding, as he’s been a face of PokerStars and the WSOP over the better part of the last decade-and-a-half. He hasn’t forgotten his roots through all of that, though, as he’s hoping the GPL not only helps produce the next wave poker superstars, but also encourages players who haven’t yet made it. "I’m also looking for that unknown guy who, like me, is looking for his shot," he said. Moneymaker already took his "shot" and hit, big. He’s now hoping that the Global Poker League can do the same, as he leads the Las Vegas Moneymakers into this week’s draft and beyond. The Las Vegas Moneymakers pick fifth overall.
  9. [caption width="595"] The Global Poker League held its draft lottery on Tuesday[/caption] "Tonight is a very special night," Global Poker League mastermind Alex Dreyfus opened by saying. "It's the first show about GPL, and it's the draft. The draft was the important key element." Those were some of the first words spoken on Tuesday as part of the GPL's Draft Lottery show, which aired on Twitch and occurred just one month after the franchises were unveiled. The teams were drawn in reverse order, meaning the first team selected received the 12th pick and the final ball drawn got the coveted first pick. Here is the draft order for the inaugural GPL season: Rome Emperors Montreal Nationals New York Rounders San Francisco Rush Las Vegas Moneymakers Sao Paolo Metropolitans London Royals Moscow Wolverines Los Angeles Sunset Berlin Bears Paris Aviators Hong Kong Stars "Because the field was so good, we decided to increase the number of players who will be draftable," Dreyfus continued. "We will have 12 teams of six players instead of 12 teams of five players." There will be four rounds of the snake-style draft, which will take place on February 25 from the SLS Hotel in Los Angeles. Who Will Be Drafted First? The camera panned to Global Poker Index editor Eric Danis for reaction. He stopped short of betting his first born child that Italy's Mustapha Kanit, who just won the EPT Dublin High Roller Event, would be the first player drafted. "I think this is a no-brainer," Danis said. "I think (Rome Emperors manager) Max Pescatori is the man to bring Mustapha Kanit back to Italy." [caption width="640"] Mustapha Kanit could be the first player drafted[/caption] Picking right behind the Emperors are the Montreal Nationals, captained by Canadian Marc-Andre Ladouceur. "This is not a selection that Marc-Andre necessarily wanted," Danis said. "It'll be fun to see what he decides to do. There are a lot of Canadian players, but… nationality doesn't matter. There are also a few great Germans out there and a few great Swedes." Danis mentioned a safe pick at #2 overall could be 2010 Main Event winner and Quebec native Jonathan Duhamel. Picking at #10 overall in the snake draft are the Berlin Bears, captained by Philipp Gruissem. "Berlin is going to be disappointed," Danis explained. "I think Philipp would like to add Fedor Holz to his team, but I don't think Fedor is going to fall to #10... That's one of the teams that will not go with national pride. They are looking at players from around the world." The GPL draft takes place on February 25 in Los Angeles. Managers do not need to pick players from their home country or city; anyone in the draft pool is eligible.
  10. The Global Poker League, or GPL, has announced the names and locations of its 12 franchises. As a press release from GPL explained, there are "12 cities, 12 franchises, 12 brands, and as many reasons to build a platform to aggregate fan engagement for the 100 million poker fans (51 million in the USA) in the world." The 12 franchises that will make up the GPL, along with their managers, are as follows: Berlin Bears: Philipp Gruissem, Team Manager Hong Kong Dragons: Celina Lin, Team Manager Los Angeles Sunset: Maria Ho, Team Manager Las Vegas Moneymakers: Chris Moneymaker, Team Manager London Royals: Liv Boeree, Team Manager Montreal Nationals: Marc-Andre Ladouceur, Team Manager Moscow Wolverines: Anatoly Filatov, Team Manager New York Rounders: Bryn Kenney, Team Manager Paris Aviators: Fabrice Soulier, Team Manager Rome Emperors: Max Pescatori, Team Manager San Francisco Rush: Faraz Jaka, Team Manager Sao Paulo Metropolitans: Andre Akkari, Team Manager If you're doing the math, that's one franchise in Asia, one in South America, one in Canada, five in Europe, and four in the United States. The 12 team managers total 71 career live wins, 405 top-10 finishes, and $46 million in live tournament earnings. Each team's manager is now tasked with drafting their five-man squad. The GPL Draft will take place at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills on February 25 preceding the American Poker Awards. Kara Scott will host the draft, which will also feature analysis from players like Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu. The gala will be live-streamed on Twitch starting at 2pm Pacific Time for those who can't make it out to LA. [caption width="450"] Faraz Jaka, manager of the San Francisco Rush[/caption] Managers are not required to be one of the five players on the active roster for a franchise. In other words, the manager can elect to draft or not draft himself. Managers and drafted players have two-year commitments for 2016 and 2017. Chris Moorman, Darren Elias, Anthony Zinno, and Fedor Holz are among those who will attend the GPL draft, making them eligible to be selected for a team. According to the same press release, drafted players will get all they can handle poker-wise: "The Global Poker League will provide a new level of fan engagement, with live events and innovative new game play formats. Its combination of online, studio, and venue-based events aims to ignite the passion of the 100 million-plus existing poker fans worldwide." [caption width="555"] Chris Moneymaker will manage the Las Vegas Moneymakers[/caption] Chris Moneymaker, whose iconic win in the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event helped spark the modern poker boom, was announced as the Las Vegas franchise's manager last week. Alex Dreyfus, the brains behind the GPL, commented, "Today is an exciting day in Global Poker League history. The confirmation of our team managers is a crucial step towards our goal. We've secured an incredible amount of talented leaders to represent our 12 franchise teams as well as strong intent from some of the world's best poker players to make themselves draftable on February 25. We're looking forward to what the next few months and the inaugural season of the Global Poker League will bring for fans across the globe." [caption width="640"] Alex Dreyfus, the brains behind the Global Poker League[/caption] Dreyfus shared the logic behind what 12 cities received teams with PocketFives on Wednesday: "These 12 cities have been chosen for their marketing potential and to represent poker globally." Certain GPL competitions will take place in a specially-designed, transparent cube called, you guessed it, "The Cube." Events will run in "iconic venues across the globe," while the league's finale "will be staged at one of the most renowned sport and entertainment venues in the USA." No firm start date for the first GPL season has been given.
  11. Global Poker Index(GPI) CEO Alex Dreyfus is on a mission to take poker entertainment to the next level by "sportifying" the game, using his poker rankings site as the backbone. This week, he made another stride in achieving that goal with the announcement of a multi-year partnership with news publication USA Today Sports Media Group. According to the agreement, USA Today will host an online poker portal featuring "GPI assets and information" starting in January 2016. "The Global Poker Index has done more than any other organization to unify poker and to see the possibilities that exist for creating a 'big league' atmosphere around play," said Jason Ford, VP of Sports Marketing for USA Today in a press release. "We're looking forward to working together to create a 24/7 digital poker destination and to providing coverage for some of the groundbreaking events that GPI is launching." Since acquiring the GPI in a bankruptcy auction in 2012, Dreyfus has been working quickly to create events, awards, and organizations that leverage the site's ranking database. Already, the company has hosted a Global Poker Masters series, where top-ranked players from nine countries form teams based on nationality and compete in a World Cup-style tournament. Dreyfus has also overseen the creation of the European Poker Awards and the American Poker Awards, both of which recognize top players from their respective continents. But the French entrepreneur isn't finished yet. In 2016, Dreyfus will kick off the Global Poker League (GPL), an ambitious project which he describes as a central piece of his "ambitious plans to transform the world of poker." With the GPL, Dreyfus wants to make the game of poker more exciting and engaging by creating 12 franchises in which team owners draft top pros who compete against other teams from cities like Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, and San Francisco. These matches will take place online and live and include stadium events where players face off inside a clear, soundproof cube (pictured) at the center of an arena. Some league tournaments will be broadcast on traditional TV stations, while others will be streamed online on platforms like Twitch. Dreyfus realized the power of the video game streaming site after nearly 1.25 million fans tuned in to watch the live stream of the inaugural Global Poker Masters. Now, USA Today will feature much of that content as well across its sports initiatives and more than 120 local media brands with which it is involved. "We're extremely pleased to be announcing this multi-year content partnership with USA Today Sports," said Dreyfus. "The partnership will provide an essential platform to showcase our innovative new events and to promote the players ranked in the Global Poker Index. It's great to have the support and passion of an industry leader like USA Today Sports, whose team shares in our vision to 'sportify' poker. We're looking forward to working closely with them over the coming years." Dreyfus is also extending the GPI's reach to China and has already received funding from investors there. He believes that the next poker boom will be powered by eSports along with the video game industry. He says that poker is already seen as a sport in Asia, where investors were keen to back the project. Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.
  12. [caption width="640"] Fedor Holz will receive his 2015 GPI Player of the Year trophy at the European Poker Awards[/caption] On May 3, a veritable who's who of the top names in European poker will gather at the Monte Carlo Bay and Resort in luxurious Monaco. Over the course of the evening, nine awards will be given out as part of the 15th Annual GPI European Poker Awards, honoring players for their achievements in 2015. The nominees were announced on Monday. The list of potential winners was pared down to four nominees per category by a panel of 62 members of the poker world including players, media, and operators. The nominees include some of the top names in the game like Fedor Holz, Dzmitry Urbanovich, and English legend John Gale. It also includes mainstays of the poker tournament scene in Europe including European Poker Tour President Edgar Stuchly and World Poker Tour Europe General Manager Hermance Blum. Attendees will also have a chance to relive memorable moments like Dzmitry Urbanovich winning four tournaments during EPT Malta, Barny Boatman winning his second career WSOP bracelet, and Mustapha 'lasagnaaammm' Kanit winning the EPT Barcelona €10K High Roller. Events to be recognized include the EPT Grand Final, WSOP Europe Main Event, and PokerListings Battle of Malta. The awards will take place on May 3 in a ceremony emceed by American Joe Stapleton. 2015 GPI European Player of the Year Fedor Holz and European Female Player of the Year Liv Boeree will also receive their trophies during the gala, which will take place at the exclusive Blue Gin Bar. "I'm lucky enough to travel a lot in Europe and have met most of the nominees of the newest edition of the GPI European Poker Awards," GPI owner Alex Dreyfus said. "I believe the panel did a great job of nominating and, as always, it's going to be very difficult and painful to make a choice." The newest edition of the European Poker Awards comes just a few months after the American Poker Awards were doled out in Los Angeles for the second straight year. Winners at that ceremony included the likes of Josh Beckley, PokerNews Editor-in-Chief Donnie Peters, and PocketFives Community Manager Kevin 'Kevmath' Mathers, who received the Jury Award. "We acquired the European Poker Awards and then, last year, we launched the American Poker Awards," Dreyfus said. "I believe that players, media, and communities in the US and Europe are different. While the game is the same and the competition is worldwide, each market has different needs. It wouldn't make sense to have one award for the whole industry since there are so many differences. How would you compare events held in the US and in Europe? So, we hold two different award ceremonies." Here's the complete list of nominees: Breakout Player of the Year Charles Carrel Dzmitry Urbanovich Fedor Holz Rainer Kempe Low Buy-In Event of the Year (below €2,000) Estrellas Poker Tour Barcelona Norwegian Championships Norway Cup PokerListings Battle of Malta WPT500 at Dusk Till Dawn High Buy-In Event of the Year (€2,000 and up) EPT Barcelona Main Event EPT Grand Final Main Event EPT Prague Main Event WSOP Europe Main Event Industry Person of the Year Edgar Stuchly Hermance Blum Luca Vivaldi Rob Yong Thomas Lamatsch Innovation/Initiative of the Year Norwegian Championship broadcast (sports style) PokerStars Play Along App - Interactive Poker on TV PokerStars using superstars (athletes) for global campaign WSOP Europe remote Twitch broadcasts Media Content of the Year "The Future of Poker in the Post-Boom Era", Sam Grafton blog "The Thrill of Victory, The Agony of Defeat", Neil Stoddart's picture captures Montury consoling Messina at EPT Malta "Devilfish: A Friend with a Heart of Gold", PokerNews article (Jesse May, Mickey May) Remko Report, PokerNews Podcast, August 2015 - Eli Elezra talks time in Israeli Army and high stakes with legends Media Person of the Year Frank Op de Woerd Lee Davy Neil Stoddart Remko Rinkema Moment of the Year Dzmitry Urbanovich wins Crazy Pineapple tourney at EPT Malta - 4th win of series Epic hand between Mateos and Lodden at EPT Grand Final (Negreanu on stream `We're seeing some high-level poker`) John Gale returns from three years off (because of brain tumor) to win WSOP bracelet #2 Pierre Neuville qualifies for the WSOP November Nine - after declaring he wasn't done (at 2014 Euro Awards) Tournament Performance of the Year Adrian Mateos Wins the 2015 EPT Grand Final Main Event Barny Boatman wins second career WSOP bracelet at WSOP Europe Fedor Holz Wins WPT Alpha8 Las Vegas Mustapha Kanit wins EPT Barcelona 10K High Roller
  13. [caption width="640"] Liv Boeree is one of three female managers in the 12-team Global Poker League[/caption] A common, almost regular topic of conversation in poker circles is women and their role in poker. That discussion in a whole is for a different day, but three female players will be playing a big role this year, as they manage their respective Global Poker League teams. While Maria Ho heads the Los Angeles team and Celina Lin represents Hong Kong, perhaps the most well-known female pro in the game leads one of the European entries. England’s Liv Boeree readies herself for the challenge of a lifetime in leading the London Royals into the first season of the GPL. Throughout her life and career, the Team PokerStars Pro hasn’t seemed to meet a challenge she can’t overcome. Boeree earned a First Class Honors degree in Physics from the University of Manchester and over the last few years has been one of the highest ranked female players in the world according to the GPI rankings system. It’s the above success that makes Boeree the perfect candidate to not only manage a team in the GPL, but also to be one of the faces of the league, a league that she is excited to be a part of. “It’s a huge honor to be asked to be part of the Global Poker League,” Boeree said, adding that what excites her most is the “sheer scale of the operation that Alex is trying to achieve.” The Alex she mentions is Alex Dreyfus, the man behind the GPL. While she admits that she, Alex, and the entire poker community are “kind of jumping into the unknown,” she remains confident with the team behind the first season of the GPL. Boeree added, “(Alex is) unbelievably determined to create a format that appeals to the mass e-sports audience and beyond.” Many managers share the same sentiment and with the GPL operating on a worldwide scale, the sky really is the limit. If there is anyone who knows something about worldwide projects, it’s Boeree. She’s one of the co-founders of Raising for Effective Giving, or REG Charity, an organization that encourages poker players to donate percentages of their winnings to effective charities. Those altruism efforts span the entire globe and while the two aren’t directly related, Boeree hopes that her involvement in, and the “taking off of,” the GPL can bring more publicity to her and REG’s global efforts. Closer to home, Boeree, who admits she's "not particularly nationalistic,” is excited to carry the torch for the UK’s lone GPL team. She admits that the only time she gets patriotic is during sporting events. With the GPL’s main goal being to “sportify” poker, we could see a more patriotic than usual Boeree at the helm of the London Royals through the first season of the league. That first season starts with Thursday’s GPL Draft, where Boeree and the Royals will select 7th out of the 12-team league. When asked about that draft and her strategy, she admits that there definitely was a strategy, although she wouldn’t divulge much more information than that. This is also her first time being a part of a draft, something that has forced her to “consult with other players who have much more experience.” Draft experience aside, Boeree knows how important her participation in the GPL is to the growth of the game for women in poker. "It’s great that a quarter of the managers are female and I’m chuffed to be one of them," she says, while agreeing that women’s involvement in poker is slowly growing. She knows the importance that female representation, not only in the managers of the league, but the draft as well, plays in the landscape of poker and hopes that that representation can "balance out the ratio even more" as time goes on. What that community does know is that with one of poker’s most recognizable players and ambassadors leading the London Royals into the draft, they’ll certainly be a force to be reckoned with.
  14. [caption width="640"] Randy Lew earned a full nine points for the Hong Kong Stars this week.[/caption] It was a week of sweeps in Heat II of the cross conference Global Poker League Summer Series from the Cube in Las Vegas. Players are seemingly getting used to the feel of playing in the venue, and fans are warming to the concept of standing play inside of the Cube. Las Vegas Moneymakers (Jonathan Little) defeat Paris Aviators (Mike Leah) 2-1 In the first of a double header of matches in the second week of cross conference competition, Jonathan Little was hoping to overtake the San Francisco Rush at the bottom of the Americas Conference. After a failed hero call by Mike Leah with pocket eights against Little’s kings, Leah lost the opening match, but stormed back to win the second when he rivered a straight, with the same card giving Little two pair. There was a fast start to the third game, with the Las Vegas Moneymakers eventually securing the win. Montreal Nationals (Marc-Andre Ladouceur) defeat Moscow Wolverines (Igor Yaroshevsky) 2-1 The second match saw the leaders of the Americas Conference taking on the Moscow Wolverines. Marc-Andre Ladouceur was looking to reestablish their lead at the top of the conference, after the Las Vegas Moneymakers closed the gap in the earlier game. Despite Igor Yaroshevsky winning the opening game, Ladouceur rallied to win the second two, and maintain their position atop the Americas conference. Sao Paulo Metropolitans (Thiago Nishijima) defeat London Royals (Justin Bonomo) 3-0 Justin Bonomo finished second for a WSOP bracelet earlier in the week and was looking to put that ghost to rest here in this match. However, it was not to be, with Thiago Nishijima putting in an outstanding performance, winning all three matches, including house over house in the second, to close the gap to second place LA Sunset. The Royals failed to take advantage of the Wolverines’ defeat the previous day. Hong Kong Stars (Randy Lew) defeat New York Rounders (Jason Wheeler) 3-0 Randy Lew’s performance last week in the Cube was disastrous, as he was swept by 2014 WSOP Main Event Champion Martin Jacobson. This week he rebounded though to sweet Jason Wheeler 3-0. The first match was over within two hands, and this sweep was the first win by a Eurasian Conference side in the Summer Series so far. The Hong Kong Stars drew level with the London Royals in their conference with this result. LA Sunset (Fedor Holz) defeat Berlin Bears (Sorel Mizzi) 3-0 Fedor Holz was up against the Berlin Bears’ Sorel Mizzi, no stranger to fighting one-on-one with another player after his MMA antics earlier this year. It was Holz’s aggression which held sway in this match, outperforming Mizzi in each match until he emerged as a 3-0 winner. The LA Sunset cut the gap to first by three points in the Americas conference. Rome Emperors (Timothy Adams) defeat San Francisco Rush (Phil Galfond) 2-1 The final match of the week saw the Rome Emperors take on the San Francisco Rush. Both teams are struggling in their respective conferences, and it was a real battle for both players. Timothy Adams won both the first and second games of this match, and Phil Galfond was lucky to avoid a sweep as he took at least three points from this match by winning the third match. The Rome Emperors closed the gap to the Berlin Bears at the bottom of their conference to two points, as the San Francisco Rush were overtaken by the Las Vegas Moneymakers in theirs. MVP Randy Lew’s performance last week was below the standard of which the GPL audience has grown accustomed to, and this week he showed why he should still be considered one of the top players in the league, by dispatching Jason Wheeler 3-0. The Week Ahead The Eurasian Teams will be trying to improve on the 2/12 record they have from the cross conference matches so far. There will be a top meets top clash between the Montreal Nationals and the London Royals to see who will come out on top there. Meanwhile LA Sunset will look to keep the pressure on the Nationals as they face off against struggling Rome Emperors. Week 3 Summer Series Schedule Moscow Wolverines vs. Las Vegas Moneymakers Sau Paulo Metropolitans vs. Hong Kong Stars (double-header) New York Rounders vs. Berlin Bears LA Sunset vs. Rome Emperors San Francisco Rush vs. Paris Aviators
  15. On Thursday, February 22 the Global Poker Index returns to Los Angeles to host the 4th Annual GPI American Poker Awards. Sponsored by PokerStars, the awards ceremony looks to celebrate not just the players of the game but the industry and influencers that help create and support the poker community. Having spent the last three years in Beverly Hills, the ceremony now moves to the Andaz West Hollywood hotel on the Sunset Strip. “We are very excited to return to the Los Angeles area for a fourth straight year to reward the most deserving poker players, industry leaders and media members in the business,” Alex Dreyfus, American Poker Awards President said. “We are proud to once again host the poker world and look forward to seeing you in Los Angeles.” In total, the ceremony will hand out 20 total awards including mainstay categories such as Breakout Player of the Year, Moment of the Year and Event of the Year. The awards also shine the spotlight on members of the media including Poker Journalist of the Year and Poker Media Content of the Year. In addition to these and other previously awarded categories, three new awards will be included in 2018 - all of which reflect the growing landscape of how poker is both presented and consumed. For the first time the categories of Video Blogger of the Year, Poker Broadcaster of the Year and Biggest Influencer will be presented, likely recognizing a new wave of content creators that are helping grow the industry. Two awards that need no nomination and have already been determined are the GPI American Player of the Year and the GPI Female Player of the Year. Both are pre-determined by tournament results of the players that scored the most points on the Global Poker Index during the 2017 season. The GPI American Player of the Year is New York’s high-rolling crusher Bryn Kenney. Kenney takes the award after an amazing 2017 that saw him rake in 15 six-figure scores headlined by a victory in the PokerStars Monte Carlo €100,000 Super High Roller for $1,946.911. Canada’s Kristen Bicknell will be honored as the GPI Female Player of the Year. Her spectacular season was topped by a victory in the $5,000 side event during the World Poker Tour Five Diamond World Poker Classic in Las Vegas for nearly $200,000. Once again, PocketFives is proud to be co-presenting the PocketFives Legacy Award. The award is presented to an online legend who has come out from behind the keyboard to make significant contributions to the live tournament circuit. Last year, one of the greatest, Cliff ‘JohnnyBax’ Josephy was presented with the award. All the winners will be revealed on February 22 at 7:00 pm at the Andaz West Hollywood. If you are looking to reserve your spot, simply fill out the necessary form, noting that space is limited. 4th Annual American Poker Awards Categories GPI American Player of the Year - Bryn Kenney GPI Female Player of the Year - Kristen Bicknell Breakout Player of the Year Poker Journalist of the Year Poker Media Content of the Year Poker Podcast of the Year Video Blogger of the Year Poker Streamer of the Year Poker Broadcaster of the Year Mid-Major Circuit of the Year Event of the Year Industry Person of the Year Biggest Influencer in Poker Charitable Initiative of the Year PocketFives Legacy Award Award for Lifetime Achievement In Poker Jury Prize People's Choice Award for Poker Personality of the Year

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