The first-ever Global Poker Masters (GPM)Â has announced most of the participants for its debut event, using Global Poker Index (GPI)-rated players as its foundation for teams.
The first team poker tournament is scheduled to take place in Malta in late March, with the concept of the tournament being to bring teams of players from eight leading poker nations together for an international competition that is invitation-only and won’t charge any buy-in or entry fee for the players involved.
“There is no buy-in for the event,” GPI CEO Alex Dreyfus told PokerNews. “We want to create an international competition where players are playing for pride, for their country and for the love of the game.”
Dreyfus also said that the GPM is part of his effort to “sportify” poker, and that the structure of the event is likely to help draw in more sponsors for the event, even those who normally wouldn’t be interested in being connected to poker.
Currently, most of the media partners listed on the official GPM website are poker outlets, but Dreyfus hopes that this can be expanded by the time the contest begins.
“The fact that we do not have a buy-in for the event also helps us to connect with non-poker partners as it takes the gambling factor out of the game,” Dreyfus said. “The players will join the Masters to play poker, not to gamble their money.”
The first-ever GPM will feature teams from Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Players were invited based on their rankings on the GPI, though only four players from each team have been announced so far. That means that 32 of the 40 invitations have already been sent out, and while there’s no guarantee that any particular player will agree to show up, Dreyfus said that he believes “70 to 80 percent” of the players listed will choose to play.
Invited players include some of the biggest names in tournament poker, as well as some individuals you may not be familiar with.
For instance, Team USA consists of the GPI overall number two player Dan Smith and high-roller superstar Daniel Colman (one player that Dreyfus admits may be hard to convince to play in the event), as well as Pratyush Buddiga and Jacob Schindler, all of whom are in the top ten of the GPI rankings.
Germany’s team could be among the most highly regarded, featuring big names like Ole Schemion (who currently leads the GPI rankings), Marvin Rettenmaier, and George Danzer.
Canada also has plenty of star power, thanks to the presence of Sorel Mizzi, Mike McDonald, and Andrew Chen. Other popular figures who have been invited include France’s Fabrice Soulier and Ukraine’s Eugene Katchalov.
Organizers say that the final list of participants should be ready within the next few weeks.
According to Dreyfus, the GPM could be an innovative event, thanks to plans to stream the competition live in five languages with absolutely no delay. This could open up the possibility of live betting on the tournament at online sports betting sites around the world.
“I believe that the best way to engage more people is actually to allow everyone to follow it live,” Dreyfus said, “which is what happens with any other sport.”
The Global Poker Masters is scheduled to be played at the Hilton Hotel in Malta on March 21-22.