One of the top stories last week was the signing of PokerStars as the lead sponsor of the Global Poker League. This came after a ton of speculation as to the financial stability of the league and its founder Alex Dreyfus.
Now that the GPL has secured the World’s Largest Poker Site as their sponsor, it’s safe to assume the league isn’t going anywhere in the near future. So what will the GPL look like with PokerStars as a lead sponsor? Let’s take a look.
PokerStars is Already Omnipresent in the GPL
It didn’t take long before PokerStars branding began dominating the broadcasts. When I went over to YouTube to look at a couple recent streams, the video started with a PokerStars commercial.
When commentary started, there was a PokerStars spade on the desk between Steven Van Zadelhoff and Roland Boothby. When the match started, you could see multiple PokerStars logos on the screen.
This was to be expected and I was a bit surprised that there wasn’t more blatant advertising during the streams. For example, I noticed that Vanessa Selbst didn’t wear her patch during her match. That would have seemed an obvious extra plug.
While we don’t know what the deal entails with the GPL, one can assume that we will see a lot more PokerStars branding once things really get rolling.
PokerStars Does Give a F**k About Play Money
In a recent episode of PolkerNews, Doug Polk spoke at length about the “slow pay scandal” involving Alex Dreyfus and what that might mean for the Global Poker League. He discussed how that viewership was dropping for GPL matches and he said that one reason was that people “don’t give a fuck about play money.”
Mr. Polk, may I introduce you to PokerStars. This is the company that hosted The Elite Series, the Play Money Masters and the PlaySCOOP. You may remember reports earlier in the year how that Barry Greenstein beat Chris Moneymaker in a $1 Billion buy-in play money event.
PokerStars has been masterfully promoting play money games for years and there are plenty of people that “give a f**k” about their games. Chances are they will find a way to get players excited about the “play money” of the weekly GPL events.
Will There Be a Conflict of Interest By Sponsored Pros From Other Sites?
Now that PokerStars is the lead sponsor of the GPL, will that cause any type of a conflict of interest for league players that are sponsored by other sites. For example, Chris Moorman and Dominik Nitsche are both sponsored by 888. Xuan Liu is sponsored by Natural8.
If you have watched any of the previous matches pre-PokerStars sponsorship, you will have noticed that sponsored players (including PokerStars players) were not patched up in any way. That has continued so far in the latest matches, but obviously the PokerStars branding has taken over the game otherwise.
The question now will be whether the sponsors of these other pros will have a problem with them playing in a league that has PokerStars as the main sponsor. One would assume that 888, Natural8 and others would just view this league the same as they would if Moorman played Aussie Millions (in past years) , the PCA or any other event ran by PokerStars.
One could argue that this isn’t the same in that the PCA is a set of poker tournaments where players represent themselves. In this case, players are part of a league and representing the league and its sponsors. What if next year’s apparel features PokerStars logos? How would it look for Moorman to be sponsored with 888 and playing on PokerStars.TV wearing their logo.
Also, I want to know what Justin Bonomo thinks of this move. He has been very vocal against PokerStars in the past. I cannot image that he is pleased to have them as the head sponsor and being a defacto representative for the site.
Second Season Guaranteed at This Point
After the recent “scandal” and the changes made to the GPL playoffs, there was speculation that the league wouldn’t even make it to Season 2. I’ll admit that I was even a bit suspect, but in all honesty I was suspect at the start of the season based on the past history of pro poker leagues.
With the signing of PokerStars as the lead sponsor, it’s safe to assume that we will see Season 2 of the GPL. (I know. Thanks Captain Obvious.) I’d also say that the odds of Season 3 are about 70 to 75% at this point as well.
Why the optimism? How often do you hear of PokerStars investing in something that’s about to crash and burn? Do you really think they would sponsor the GPL if they thought the league would fold up shop after doing so?
How Much “Creative Control” Will PokerStars Have?
One last question I have is how much “creative control” does PokerStars now have with the Global Poker League or are they truly just a “lead sponsor.” Will the deal only involve promotion of the league or will PokerStars start to shape the GPL into their own image for team poker?
PokerStars has been at the forefront of many poker innovations, so it would stand to reason that they would want to guide this endeavor along as well. Who is to say that they won’t eventually buy out the Global Poker League? Sure, this is all speculation at this point, but is it unreasonable?
Alex Dreyfus had a vision for team poker and a league concept that he hopes will take the game to another level. Like with any entrepreneurial endeavor, sometimes it takes another company coming in and providing the extra resources needed to make that dream a reality.