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The Global Poker League is on its way to taking form, and the first team to be announced had a familiar name attached to it. The Las Vegas Moneymakers, headed up by none other than Chris Moneymaker, is the teaser to the full GPL revelation that will take place in 2016.

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The choice to announce Moneymaker as the first team captain, along with the name of his team, was a purposeful move. Alex Dreyfus, creator of the entire Mediarex Enterprises group that includes the Global Poker League, says he owed it to Moneymaker: “He was the first individual to reach me directly last year to be part of the GPL.”

Moneymaker talked about it himself in a Poker Update interview from the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA), noting that he went to Dreyfus about a year and a half ago to discuss the game of poker in general. The two agreed that poker needed a boost, and there needed to be something that would allow players to see its “cool factor” again. With so much attention being focused on DFS and eSports, poker needed something new. And Moneymaker knew that Dreyfus was the person to do it.

As soon as Dreyfus began to reveal his plan for the Global Poker League, Moneymaker said, “Yeah, this is something I want to be involved in. Let me know how I can help.”

When the GPL began to take shape, Moneymaker was happy to be the first team captain announced.

Although Moneymaker lives in Nashville, Tennessee, he chose the “Las Vegas Moneymakers” as the team name because of the appeal of Sin City to the global poker audience that they are trying to attract. He also noted that he won the WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas, so it made sense.

There are still 11 more teams yet to be announced, which will happen any day now. As Dreyfus told Poker Update, “The machine is starting now.”

More GPL Clues

According to the GPL website, the other teams are likely to connect to the following cities: New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Montreal, Sao Paolo, London, Paris, Berlin, Rome, Moscow, and Hong Kong.

The final 12 teams will divide into two conferences, six teams for GPL Americas and another six for GPL Eurasia.

From there, the team captains will choose the members of their teams. On Draft Day, each team will choose three players from the Global Poker Index Top 1000 rankings as they stood on January 1, 2016. The other two players for each team will be wildcard choices, and they can be chosen by any criteria of the team captain. When asked if a team can even draft someone’s mom or dad, Dreyfus clarified, “They can pick any player in the world, so yes, theoretically, they could.”

The teams will then play No Limit Hold’em poker over the course of 12 weeks via twice-weekly competitions. There will be some live heads-up matches played in a studio and streamed on the Internet for fans to observe, as well as online matches that will be announced and available for an audience as well. Dreyfus explained the online poker component: “We didn’t want to be dependent on an online poker site, as we need to innovate and create a real spectator experience. We wanted to control the environment, so we developed a poker client to fit our streaming needs.”

Though Dreyfus has been touting the new HoldemX game as part of his overall plan to sportify poker, he noted that it will not be a part of the GPL. “It would have been too disruptive and aggressive to launch GPL with HoldemX,” he noted. “GPL will be all NLH but a mix of six-max, heads-up, and team formats. We will also have progressive mechanisms like a chess clock, players standing up for the studio and live matches, etc.”

GPL The Cube

Some of the live matches to which he refers will be played in The Cube™, a creation currently in development to highlight the game, the competition, and even the players’ emotions and expressions during poker action. The tables will be hybrid digital ones, complete with RFID-enabled chips and digital cards, though there will be dealers overseeing the action to ensure fairness and uphold the overall game dynamic.

Is Poker Ready for the GPL?

Between The Cube™ and the league format, the poker community, especially in the United States, was a little skeptical when Dreyfus first brought the details to social media outlets. But Dreyfus expected the initial apprehension.

“Once we release the 12 franchise names and start to really operate, it will grow. Poker communities in the US are bitter to any new initiatives because most of them have failed during the last 10 years, though Europeans are looking for something new because the market has matured.” Dreyfus then added, “What I really want to highlight is that the League is not going to be a success from day one. It’s a long journey, very long. Poker media and early adopters will have to accept that it is a learning process, and there will be mistakes, but we are building up a framework – a platform – that aims to support the promotion of poker and players for the next decade.”

Alex Dreyfus

As information about the other franchises comes to light this week, the GPL will be prepared to officially launch on February 25 in Los Angeles during the American Poker Awards. Once the teams are chosen, the GPL will move forward.

Dreyfus hopes that the GPL will help push a “second Moneymaker effect” in poker over the next three years, and he has noted several times that 2016 will be a transformational year for Mediarex Sports and Entertainment with the Global Poker League front and center.

Naysayers and doubters aside, the poker community as a whole could sure use another boom. And we won’t be surprised if Moneymaker is part of it.

Jennifer Newell

Jennifer has been a freelance writer in the poker industry for a decade. She left a full-time job with the World Poker Tour to tell the stories of poker. She now lives in St. Louis, writes about poker while pursuing other varied interests, and speaks her mind on Twitter… a lot.