Global Poker Index (GPI) CEO Alex Dreyfus has made no secret of his plans to “sportify” the game of poker.
That effort truly started with the Global Poker Masters, the team “World Cup of Poker” that saw Team Italy defeat seven other nations in an event that was streamed almost live on Twitch and allowed players to participate without paying any sort of entry fees or buy-ins.
Now, Dreyfus is ready to take his vision of poker as a sport one step further by launching another major project: the Global Poker League.
The Global Poker League (GPL) was announced late last year, though Dreyfus shared very few details at the time.
According to him, the GPL would feature a season spanning over three to four months, and would be similar to the role UFC or NASCAR hold in their respective sports.
“The initial vision is to have a series of live events akin to a sports season cohosted by international poker events,” Dreyfus told PokerNews last November. “This will evolve with six to eight different franchises (poker teams) competing against one another with initial seasons lasting a short three to four months.”
At the time, Dreyfus also talked about the possibility of team owners signing on for the potential to develop sponsorship deals and branding opportunities for their teams. It was certainly an ambitious goal, but at the time, there were few concrete details about how it would work.
This week, Dreyfus once again spoke to PokerNews about the possibilities for the GPL, as well as how the first season is beginning to develop for the prospective league.
“After the World Series of Poker, the first season of the GPL will most likely start in August or in early September,” Dreyfus said, saying that the season would probably be a “10-week competition.”
According to Dreyfus, the idea would be to create a league that would make stars out of a larger number of players and give more opportunities for fans to get engaged with high level poker events.
“In 2015, the first edition of the League will involve eight teams of seven players each,” Dreyfus said. “The team members will be selected in a draft that will be held either during the WSOP or right after the event. Each team will most likely include three players from the GPI 300 or GPI 500, two wildcards and two qualifiers.”
According to Dreyfus, there are already four owners on board to purchase franchises in the leagues, though “it’s too early to name names.” Like the Global Poker Masters, players wouldn’t be putting up any buy-ins or travel expenses; instead, the GPI would invest up to $5 million in order to get the league started.
“After the first couple of years, we hope that mainstream sponsors will join us and bring even more liquidity into the game,” Dreyfus said.
The GPL will not be the first attempt to create a professional league or tour that would feature the very best players in the world, though it will be the first to use a team structure.
In 2004, the Professional Poker Tour attempted to create a PGA-like system in which players could earn invitations to events by winning major tournaments or showing sustained success (such as by placing high on certain Player of the Year lists). It only lasted for one season.
That was still more successful than the Epic Poker League, a similar invitational tournament series that folded after just three events in 2011.