Alexandre Dreyfus is the Elon Musk of the poker industry, an Internet entrepreneur whose company Mediarex is responsible for the Global Poker Index (GPI) and Hendon Mob databases, American and European Poker Awards, and several poker conferences held annually throughout the world.
Dreyfus revealed his plans last year to “sportify” the game of poker through a series of initiatives, the first being the Global Poker Masters, a “world cup” tournament that brought eight teams together last March to battle for the title of Champion Nation. Following the event’s success, the businessman moved all-in with a multimillion-dollar investment to launch the Global Poker League (GPL).
This week Dreyfus launched yet another online enterprise, though one that costs much less, by way of a new blog on the Huffington Post.
As expected, the innovator’s first post expanded on his mission to remove negative stigmas surrounding poker and paint a more realistic, genuine, portrait of the card game by highlighting its relationship to both sport and entertainment.
“While there are more than 100 million casual poker fans in the world, the game suffers from a tainted image that doesn’t reflect its reality,” Dreyfus writes. “My vision is to change that image and to make people see that not only is poker a game but it’s a sport and great proposition for entertainment too.”
Dreyfus is betting that the key to altering that image is through the GPL, an association which aims to mimic professional sports leagues. GPL will franchise 12 organized teams into two conferences, with rosters of professionals completing a regular schedule of online and in-person contests.
Franchisees awarded between November and January, with the first-ever poker draft being held on January 21st, 2016, the top 1,000 players on the GPI index eligible for selection by team owners.
Removing poker from casino floors and placing tables in their own venues with teams, players, and fans is what Dreyfus hopes will lead to a more sustained and structured worldwide enthusiasm.
When one thinks about the stereotypical poker player, outstanding physical specimen doesn’t likely come to mind, but Dreyfus says that too is changing as professionals are now required to be very fit according to his assessment.
“Being a high-level poker professional today requires a very healthy lifestyle,” Dreyfus said.
“When you look at the best poker players, the players that are travelling all over the world and make a living from these competitions, they are all very fit and most of them are training every single day to be physically and mentally prepared for the competition.”
So will Under Armour and Gatorade be running commercials featuring Jason Mercier or Phil Ivey anytime soon? That of course seems rather unlikely, but Dreyfus believes his league will lead to poker icons that are admired and looked up to similarly to sports stars.
“The industry needs a shake-up… I believe we need to enhance the game, create proper fan engagement that doesn’t exist anymore, and build content to fulfill an existing appetite,” Dreyfus concludes.