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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.
The first edition of the Global Poker Masters World Cup took place over the weekend at the Hilton Portomaso in Malta, pitting the top eight GPI ranked teams against each other. After two days of play, sixth ranked Team Italy, represented by Mustapha Kanit, Rocco Palumbo, Dario Sammartino, Andrea Dato, and Giuliano Bendinelli, defied the odds and were crowned the first champions of the event. GPI scheduled the Global Poker Masters World Cup to coincide with the European Poker Tour's stop in Malta, which kicked off Day 1A of its Main Event on Sunday at the neighboring Portomaso Casino. This assured that most of the game's biggest names were already nearby, increasing the likelihood of the attendance. The World Cup consisted of four stages, with the Playoffs on March 21 and the Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and Finals all taking place on March 22. The festivities kicked off on Saturday and were available for anyone to watch live via Twitch, PokerStars.tv, and dozens of other outlets. "The real-time live stream will allow us to cooperate with some bookmakers and give you the opportunity to do live betting on the Masters," GPI CEO Alex Dreyfus told PokerNews in February. "I believe that the best way to engage more people is actually to allow everyone to follow it live, which is what happens with any other sport." The action on the felts began with the Playoff round, where each of the 40 players from the eight teams faced off in eight-max sit and gos. Each round was capped at 2.5 hours, with teams being awarded points based on the finishing positions of each player. The United Kingdom's team, represented by Jack Salter, Simon Deadman, Oliver Price, Sam Tricket, and Louis Salter, was the sole team eliminated in the Playoffs, while the United States' team, consisting of Bryn Kenney, Oliver Busquet, Dan Smith, Vanessa Selbst (pictured), and Isaac Haxton, were awarded a bye in the Quarterfinals after finishing in first place in the Playoff round. The remaining six teams picked their best three players each to face off in heads-up matches in the Quarterfinals. France, represented by Erwann Pecheux, Bertrand Grospeller, Sylvain Loosli, Paul Tedeschi, and Patrick Bruel, was the only team not to make it past this round. Point totals from the Quarterfinals round were combined with the point totals in the Playoffs round to determine the stack sizes for each team in the Semifinals. This round uniquely featured a single six-max sit and go where players were allowed to tag in and out for each other. Ukrainewas the first team to bow out in the Quarterfinals. According to PokerNews, Oleksander Gnatenko flopped a set with his pocket sevens, only to be sent to the rail after USA's Dan Smith hit a set of kings on the river. Canadaalso exited the Global Poker Masters at the hands of the United States when Ami Barer was unable to outrace against Smith's pocket sevens. Germanybowed out in fourth place after Ole Schemion lost back-to-back races against Italy's Bendinelli. The top-ranked US team was the next to exit the Masters, as Smith got into a pre-flop raising war with Italy's Sammartino only to find out that his pocket sevens were dominated by his opponent's pocket aces. After Italy knocked out USA in a huge pot, they also were able to take a huge chip advantage against Russia, represented by Vladimir Troyanovskiy, Ivan Soshnikov, Anatoly Filatov, Vitaly Lunking, and Alex Bilokur. The finals consisted of a best of five heads-up matches with Italy starting with 404,900 chips to Russia's 148,100 chips. Italy was able to use this chip lead to their advantage and won the Global Poker Masters World Cup in style, shutting out Russia 3-0 in heads-up play. Here were the final results: 1. Italy 2. Russia 3. United States of America 4. Germany 5. Canada 6. Ukraine 7. France 8. United Kingdom Want the latest poker headlines and interviews? Follow PocketFives on Twitterand Like PocketFives on Facebook.