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  1. 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.
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