Global Poker League Announces 'The Cube'5 years ago
You may not know the name Alexandre Dreyfus, but you probably know his work. His company, Mediarex Sports & Entertainment owns both the Global Poker Index (GPI) and TheHendonMob.com, a comprehensive list of poker player winnings and statistics. Both are quite interesting and worth the minute it takes to check them out. More importantly, they both serve as part of the basis for Alexandre Dreyfus’ plan to revolutionize the sport of poker, or as he would say “sportify” it.
According to Dreyfus, professional poker is a sport that has not been capitalized on the way sports like football and baseball have. His intentions, at the most basic level, are to change that by altering the focus of big money interests in the poker market. According to him, poker has, up unto this point, been viewed as having either two or three main interests. These are, professional players, the businesses which cater to them, and casual players. The third group, casual players, has been dwindling recently, and is often cited as a problem undermining the system.
Dreyfus thinks that there is a fourth interest which has gone neglected for too long, the fans. This group is composed of the people who either play at home or not at all, but would like to watch and follow poker in the same fashion that we follow major league sports. These are people who won’t actually risk their money, but are interested in following players of skill and seeing the big money change hands from the safety of the spectator box. While many television stations do host poker tournaments for viewing, Alexandre thinks that this is a largely untapped market and he is ready to grab it by the horns.
Turning professional poker into a true spectator sport is no easy task and will have to be done step by step if it is to be done right. One can say that Dreyfus has already taken one of the first crucial steps with the acquisition of the GPI and TheHendonMob. The very existence of these two information hubs is crucial to cultivating a proper sport fanbase. Typical sports fans love to follow their favorite players and to be able to tell who is the best at x, y, or z. By keeping numerical records of wins, total cash, table finishes, ect… fans have access to the poker equivalent of touchdowns, passing yards, fumbles, ect… You can chart the rise and fall of players, measure their streaks, and numerically justify who is the best according to whatever standard you choose.
With a centralized statistics database conceived and released, Dreyfus moved on to step 2 of “sportification” creating a league worth following. Professional poker already has star players. There are names to follow in every major tournament, but they are disjointed and different groups show up in different places sporadically. Late last year, Alexandre revealed plans to create a Global Poker League (GPL).
Though little has been finalized, the stated plan is that there will be two conferences, Americas and Eurasia. Major cities from each conference will create teams starting with 6 teams to a conference. While unconfirmed, the tentative list looks like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Toronto, and Sao Paulo for the Americas, and London, Paris, Prague, Barcelona, Moscow,andHong Kong for Eurasia. Each team’s starting roster will include three players drafted from the GPI 1000and two “wildcards,” for a total of five players per team and 60 across the league in the first year. While this may seem a small start, we have to start somewhere and I can easily imagine fans rallying behind their home cities, states, or countries.
While the final league decisions are still brewing, Alexandre Dreyfus has released a new wave of information about a figurehead image for his “sportified” poker, The Cube. The Cube, is a massive 11-ton box with one way glass and a bunch of microphones all of which come apart to make the thing surprisingly portable. A number of the biggest league matches will be played inside the cube with an audience of 2000-5000 watching from behind the one way glass. The goal here is to make the sport more into a spectator sport. The Cube will make for a recognizable central venue that not only tackles some of the real spectator problems that surround professional poker, but also focuses the idea of poker as a spectator sport.
Dreyfus has compared his cube to The Octogon of UFC fame, stating that having a centralized location gives fans something specific to attach to as a point of differentiation between the GPL and other professional poker tournaments. Of course, there have been a few speed bumps to making The Cube work as professional poker play is too slow for spectation, and the one-way glass aspect makes it feel a bit similar to watching a televised event. Still, Dreyfus has answers up his sleeve, such as a play clock to keep the action fast, and the ability to turn on 2-way light and sound between the players inside the cube and the fans outside.
Perhaps the most exciting news is that Dreyfus is planning two more waves of information that will be revealed some time in October. While this seems like a rather sudden flood, Alexandre does plan to start the league in the first quarter of 2016 so time is absolutely of the essence. I, like many fans look forward to future announcements, as this sport of skill and chance unfolds into its next paradigm.
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