PokerUpdate.com contributor Robbie Strazynski caught up with the CEO at Mediarex Sports & Entertainment Alex Dreyfus and talked about the Global Poker Index, the upcoming Global Poker League, and what it means to “Sportify Poker.” Check it out for yourself!
And be sure to stick with PokerUpdate here and on Twitter @PokerUpdate to get all the updates at the 2016 PCA!
Hey everybody, it’s Robbie Strazynski and I am here for PokerUpdate.com at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure 2016, with Alex Dreyfus. Alex is in the building. How are you doing, sir?
Hi Robbie, I’m good. I’m tired, but I’m good.
It’s a pleasure to meet you. This is our first time. We’ve been in touch for a while.
Alex is the head of the GPI, the GPL, the GTO – everything.
Everything but GTO!
He is the chief sportifier of everything. If you haven’t heard of him, google him! He’s all over the place doing interviews, and now he’s very kind to spend a few minutes with us here at PokerUpdate.com. Alex, our audience is not necessarily the high rollers. We’re the weekend warriors, we’re people who play poker once in a while with our friends – $1/$2, $2/$5 – that sort of thing. Why don’t you explain a little bit who exactly you are, and what you’re trying to do? Everyone’s heard of the WSOP, the PCA, and PokerStars, but what are GPI and GPL?
That’s a big initiative. It’s actually a sum of different companies and different products. One of them is the Global Poker Index (‘GPI’). We rank over 450,000 poker players in 97 countries, and 1,400 casinos. So more or less, anywhere you play in the world, you’re going to be in the Hendon Mob – we’ll talk about that after – and you’re going to be ranked in the GPI. So, GPI aims to be the ATP in tennis, or the PGA in golf. We are the official ranking authority – for the EPT, the WSOP, etc. In the last few years we became that body that promotes players and their performance. On top of that, we acquired HendonMob.com which is a 10 year old institution, the largest live poker database in the world – every single live poker result is in the Hendon Mob.
Wait, so you’re telling me that if I just go to the Commerce Poker Room and just play one of their daily tournaments, it’s going to be on the Hendon Mob?
Personally, I don’t know which casinos specifically, but most of the $50, $100 tournaments, even though they are daily tournaments, are entering the Hendon Mob.
Unbelievable! So all you guys out there, look for yourselves on the Hendon Mob. You’re on there!
That’s why the website has been growing for the last couple of years – at around 29% every year – in terms of audience, because we offer more information and more coverage. So we acquired these two assets, to make them grow, and our motto is: “We Sportify Poker.” We want poker to become more known, more visible, more mainstream, and to achieve that we believe that we have to promote poker like a sport, and not as a sport. We want to build assets, and tools, that help poker to be seen differently, without necessarily changing the game, obviously.
So, the purpose of the GPI ranking is to offer a tool where we rank the best poker players and every week there is a narrative, and a storyline about who the best player is – who is going up? who is going down? – and that’s how you sportify poker. The next stage for us was the Global Poker League (‘GPL’) which is going to be officially launched on February 25th.
In a few days we are going to announce the 12 franchise names.
Wow, like a proper league, like the NBA.
Yeah, think about the NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB! You’re going to tell me: “Yes, but poker is not a team sport. It’s not a sport, first of all, and it’s definitely not a team sport,” and I will say: “Yes, I agree.” That’s not the purpose of it. The purpose is: How can we package and remarket the game of poker to try to reach new audiences? We believe that we can achieve that through a proper league, that is team based, and city name driven. Think a little bit like the Formula 1 – we are designing a race track, and we are going to put 12 cars (12 franchises/12 teams) and all year long we’re going to film these cars, with the drivers we put in the cars, racing on this race track. We will control the design of the race track, where we put the cameras, and it means that for a season that’s going to last 6 months in our case, every week we’re going to talk about these guys. The purpose of that is to fight the fact that poker is a game of chance – and that’s true, poker is a game of chance. What does this mean? It means that when you play the WSOP you have a chance to win, and that’s great! That’s great for you, and that’s great for the WSOP because it gives you the aspiration to go there, but it’s not great for ESPN and it’s not great for the media.
Oh, so you want to increase coverage of these events, and grow the game that way!
I’m not saying we want to increase the coverage of the WSOP, because that’s not our job, but of the game itself!
That’s right. That’s very cool.
The only way to achieve that is to create a consistent narrative and storyline and the big poker tournaments like the WSOP, the EPT, the PCA, unfortunately don’t help to build a strong storyline. You cannot follow and create a fun engagement because the player that you’re going to root for has 1 chance out of 6,000 (in the WSOP Main Event) to win. It’s not enough to create a story. So, by creating a segregated environment – the race track where we have these 12 cars racing all year long – we can really create a fun engagement and make you root for the Las Vegas Moneymakers.
Yes, Chris Moneymaker talked about that.
That’s the only team which we released so far, but in a few days we’re going to release the other 11. So we really created a brand that is meant to offer a fun engagement.
So, wait a second, when you say engagement, and rooting for a team, that means that if I want to root for the Lakers (which I do) I go to the Staples Center. So you’re saying there’s going to be poker in an arena?
Yes! The answer is yes.
First of all, as you know, you could watch that Lakers match for free on TV.
The same way you can go to a concert and pay for that, but you can listen to same exact music online, for free.
Alright, but there’s nothing like being there in person.
Right, because you want to live an experience. It’s a social experience and it’s a full experience. What we want to create (most likely at the end of September, early October) is the GPL World Championship.
Like with the Championship Belt in professional wrestling?
Oh, no! It’s going to be the final of the regular season. We’re going to have a regular season, a playoff, and a final. The final four teams are going to play in a sports arena in the United States. We are currently finalizing between two different venues that we are looking at. It’s going to be a full weekend where you’re going to have that big cube, if you remember.
The Cube! Like the Octagon!
Yes, it’s like the UFC Octagon. We wanted to create a signature arena. It’s a 20x20x20 ft (6x6x6 m), one-way soundproof glass cube. Players will play in the cube in the middle of the arena, and because they’re playing in the cube, they cannot interact with the audience. This means that we – the audience – around the cube, can see the hole cards the same way when you watch ESPN and you see the hole cards in real-time.
Like at the final tables and we can cheer, be loud, and all that other stuff.
Exactly. It’s the same as the experience here at the PCA where you can see the players. You can’t see the cards from here, but if you watch on Twitch or EPT Live you can see the cards. The difference is that you will be able to see the cards in the arena through the big screens that we’re going to have. The idea is to create a real, fun experience. I like to say that we want to shift from a customer experience, to a fan experience. What does this mean? 100% of the initiatives that have been done in the last 10-12 years have been to convert you into a poker players, but nobody takes care of the poker fans.
The people who stand on the rail and do not necessarily play.
Yes, and 90% of the poker fans will never gamble. They will never play for real money. They’ll play on Zynga Poker and on social things, watch Twitch, and whatever, but they don’t gamble. We don’t do anything for them anymore. The idea of GPL is to create content and experience – an initiative to actually target the 90% of poker fans that don’t want to gamble, but are still poker fans.
You know, that’s exactly our audience here at PokerUpdate.com. Like we said, people who play over the weekend but will not necessarily go and gamble. It’s good to know that there’s someone out there in the poker world taking care of those interests. Listen, I’ll pay at least $0.99 to go and attend an event like that.
Well, 99 cents is not going to be enough.
Okay! I will certainly give it a try.
We made a survey – not us but a 3rd party marketing company – and the average was $50-75.
Okay, well it’s a special event.
Yeah, a two-day event, and there’s going to be a DJ and those sort of things. It’s going to be interesting.
Sounds really cool! Look, here at PokerUpdate this is the man to follow and we’re going to be following the developments of Alex Dreyfus, sportifying everything, and the GPI, the GPL, and the GTO.
Thank you very much, Alex, for taking the time to spend with us. Follow him @Alex_Dreyfus on Twitter and we’re of course @PokerUpdate. We’ll see you again next time.