The Global Poker League (GPL) which launched a couple of years ago with the objective of changing the image of poker and promoting it as a sport is now looking to enter the Indian market. The GPL was the brainchild of Alex Dreyfus who launched the league to educate people across the globe that poker was a game of skill and not a game of chance. The first edition of the GPL focused on bringing together teams from Europe and the Americas and was a reasonable success.
Mediarex Sports and Entertainment, the parent company of the GPL stated that it had learned immensely during the launch of its inaugural GPL and did not go through with a second edition as it wanted to make a number of changes to its format and policies. The GPL announced in 2016 that it was looking to enter the lucrative Chinese market and has plans to launch GPL China before the end of the year. With just a few months left in 2017, the promotional campaign for GPL China has not been very extensive and there are many poker players in Asia who are not aware that the GPL is entering China.
GPL India Teams
Even before the GPL can launch into China and measure its success, the company has confirmed that it will launch GPL India but has yet to confirm the dates. However the teams for GPL India have been confirmed and they have been named after the top 6 cities in India where poker has a strong following. The 6 teams for GPL India are: Chennai Sharks, Ahmedabad Aphas, Delhi Diehards, Kolkata Creators, Mumbai Jetsetters and Bengaluru Hackers.
Alex Dreyfus, CEO and founder of Mediarex said that GPL India will look to take all of the lessons from the first edition of the GPL and GPL China and then create a robust GPL India tournament that will make it the best poker tournament in the country. GPL India will comprise of the top poker players based on the Global Poker Index (GPI) ranking for India but will also provide amateur poker player and poker enthusiasts a chance to be a part of a GPL India team.
GPL China Teams
The winner of the first edition of GPL India will receive an invitation to compete in the GPL World Championships and will get an opportunity to compete against some of the top GPL teams and poker players in the world. The GPL is yet to release any specific information against the proposed GPL World Championships and its tournament scheduled. However the GPL has confirmed that GPL China will include a total of 12 teams. The twelve teams include Guangzhou Pioneers, Beijing Great Dragons, Hong Kong Treasure Ships, Tianjin Guardians, Macau Lions. Shanghai Golden Tigers, Shenzen Eagles, Hangzhou Legends, Kunming Phoenix,Taiwan Black Bears, Chengdu Pandas and the Xi’an Warriors.
It is interesting to note that the majority of states in India still look upon the game as gambling and therefore it is banned in most states. There are a number of groups in favor of poker that are campaigning for new legislation to be passed and for poker to be made legal. PokerStars, the online poker giant has already expressed interest in entering the Indian poker market but has not confirmed any dates.
Indian Poker Market Now Worth $50 Million
Alex Dreyfus estimates that India’s current poker market is around $50 million but believes it has the potential to grow enormously and wants to be one of the first companies to position themselves to capitalize on India’s lucrative poker market. However the GPL will face competition as atleast two other poker leagues have launched in India during 2017. The Indian Poker League (IPL) and the Poker Sports League (PSL) were launched earlier this year and they have a similar objective to the GPL which is to promote poker as a game of skill and not as a game of chance.
Dreyfus is not too concerned with the competition as he believes it will take a minimum of 3 to 5 years before any company is able to show profits. He believes that not all of the poker operators who enter India will survive and states that the GPL has the right business model to survive a new market like India.