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More Questions than Answers after Dreyfus Q&A about Global Poker League

One thing that cannot be doubted with Mediarex Sports & Entertainment’s Chief Executive Officer Alex Dreyfus is that he isn’t thinking about improving poker. From implementing the Global Poker Index and turning it into the premier metric for measuring poker professionals to creating the Global Poker Masters, Dreyfus has been able to demonstrate his vision quite well. When it comes to his latest effort, the Global Poker League, Dreyfus still leaves many more questions than answers.

In a three hour session on Twitch on Wednesday, Dreyfus put a little bit of meat on the bones of what he has been promoting with the GPL. The league would be built around 12 teams located around the world. Those 12 teams would be split into two conferences, the GPL Americas and the GPL EurAsia. The GPL Americas will tentatively feature teams in New York, Los Angeles, Toronto, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Sao Paulo, Brazil; the GPL EurAsia tentatively will field teams representing London, Paris, Moscow, Barcelona, Prague and Hong Kong.

This was where one of the first questions arose. When asked in the lengthy Q&A session following his nearly 90 minute presentation, Dreyfus was not able to name any of the prospective owners for any of the teams in the GPL, even though he wants a two-year commitment (for several million dollars in team operation) from these prospective owners. Dreyfus did admit during the Q&A that a “notable sports owner” might be interested in purchasing one of the franchises and thought that the soccer great Neymar would make “a great owner” for one of the teams rather than as a “wild card” player. Dreyfus also saw such people as “hedge fund managers and businessmen” as potential owners in the GPL.

The situation as to who would make up the teams was where one of the next big questions came from. As to the construct of these teams, Dreyfus stated that there would be a player draft where each team would choose three players, with the qualifier being that the players had to be ranked in the top 1000 players on the GPI. Dreyfus was not able to state at this time how many of those 1000 players have committed to playing in the GPL. In addition, the teams would be able to sign two “wild cards” that wouldn’t have to necessarily be a part of the GPI 1000 and could very well be given their slot by an owner looking to make a big impact or using it as potentially a marketing tool (online satellites, anyone?).

Furthermore, Dreyfus was unable to indicate how much these players would be compensated except to say that “six figures” was an estimate (it was not designated during the Q&A whether that would be for the owner’s entire roster or per player). There was nothing said about having a “bench” in case one of the players on the main squad couldn’t make a “road game” or if they were to fall ill during the season.

There were some other issues raised during the Q&A that brought less than transparent answers out of Dreyfus. As to how events on the GPL would be made secure – there are three arenas the GPL players would compete in:  online, a “studio” setting presumably around the Mediarex headquarters in Malta and a “live” setting NOT in a casino – Dreyfus could not offer any insights into how it would happen. When it came to the “live” settings and people actually paying for a ticket to see the GPL teams play poker in “The Cube,” Dreyfus could only cite statistics from a survey that indicated 30% of those surveyed would buy tickets for a poker contest but did not indicate how much people would pay for the event or in what locations this was a popular option (currently, major tournament circuits such as the World Poker Tour, the World Series of Poker and other smaller circuits offer seating to fans on a first come, first served basis; sometimes there are plenty of audience members who came to the tournament disguised as an empty seat).

The one thing that might get the GPL and, by its success, Dreyfus through the initial problems of startup is the indomitable will of Dreyfus himself. Every time he has been told that he can’t do something in the world of poker, he seems to pull it off and make a success out of it. Dreyfus is also smart enough to recognize that this isn’t going to be an overnight thing; he may well be into the GPL for a five to ten year period before he can truly evaluate the situation to determine if it is a success or a failure.

Even with the dearth of answers regarding the GPL, there is still some time to see how everything shakes out with the burgeoning league. Dreyfus has indicated that the draft and the teams will be filled out between December and February (with the owners being introduced before that time) and the 12-week regular season will be concluded before the 2016 World Series of Poker begins in Las Vegas at the end of May. After the completion of the WSOP, then the GPL will gather the top two teams from each conference to crown Conference Champions and, eventually, the GPL’s first World Champion.

Can the Global Poker League be pulled off? Will the poker world care? The answers to those questions rest in the hands of Alex Dreyfus himself…and he wouldn’t want it any other way.

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