The Global Poker League (GPL) is the brainchild of Internet entrepreneur Alexandre Dreyfus, his latest online venture that is trying to “sportfiy” poker and transform the table game into a worldwide spectator sport.
There are obvious obstacles to that mission including poker’s pace of play, the lack of current teams, and providing the audience with the ability to see players’ hole cards but not the power to influence bets.
Dreyfus first announced the GPL in April and his company Mediarex Sports & Entertainment has been rather mum on how it would address many of those challenges until this week.
Tuesday’s press release from Dreyfus’ company revealed much about the GPL framework, but no component more notable than “The Cube,” an enclosed 20-foot soundproof portable structure that will “transform live gameplay.”
“Poker fans crave real time information when watching poker live,” Mediarex stated. “The Cube enables on-site fans to see players’ hole cards and listen to players’ hand discussions … On-site fans will now be able to get the same level of immersion, win/loss percentages, hand analysis from experts and etc. as they would watching a poker show.”
The one-way LED glass, similar in principle to a police interrogation room, gives crowds the ability to see in while preventing them from tipping off their favorite team or player.
Certainly innovative in solving some of the key issues of live poker events, the format also might make the experience feel like the audience member is simply watching a TV poker match instead of attending a live tournament.
The Cube was inspired by the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s “Octagon” and gives the GPL the ability to take its show on the road conveniently and economically.
Though the LED glass box is massive, its modular construction allows for quick and easy breakdowns, ideal for transportation and fast turnaround events.
12 initial franchises will comprise the Global Poker League when it launches in the first quarter of 2016, Dreyfus confirming each team will have a roster of five players, three drafted members and two “Wild Cards.”
To address concerns of poker’s sometimes lengthy gameplay, GPL has developed a dueling format that is expected to last 30-40 minutes for each player vs. player match.
A clock will also be used to expedite bets and bluffs, with the arrangement expected to bring four times more hands per hour than current live poker.
“We’ve been talking and working tirelessly for a long time about how ‘We Sportify Poker,'” Dreyfus said. “This isn’t going to be ‘yet another poker event.'”
After announcing his plans for the GPL last April, Dreyfus and Mediarex secured $4.9 million in funding from a venture capitalist in China and a sports marketing firm in Europe.
Additional upfront revenue streams will likely come from franchisees wishing to be one of the first team owners in what could be a revolutionary model.
Poker has slowly dwindled in popularity since its heyday in the mid-2000s following Chris Moneymaker’s World Series of Poker Main Event title, but Dreyfus says 100 million casual fans remain including 51 million based in the United States.