Poker promoters in China are going all out to promote poker in Mainland China and create a new fan base. Chinese based Tencent Holdings Limited is a multi-billion dollar giant that owns a number of subsidiaries including Tencent poker. The company recently enlisted the services of Swedish poker pro Martin Jacobson to share his views on a popular TV show.
Jacobson is considered to be one of the top poker pros in Europe and is rated as the number one Swedish poker pro in live cash earnings according to the Hendon Mob. Jacobson has won over $15 million in career prize money and his biggest win was when he was crowned the champion of the 2014 World Series of Poker (WSOP) main event in Las Vegas which brought him $10 million in prize money.
The Swedish poker pro has a fan following all over the world and his views on poker strategy and game play are highly regarded. Tencent were eager to have Jacobson do a guest appearance on their show as they had never hosted a former WSOP champion before. Jacobson and his girlfriend travelled to China with an objective of promoting the Tecent poker brand and also increasing the viewership for the television show.
Alex Dreyfus, the CEO of Mediarex Sports Entertainment, the company that owns the Global Poker League (GPL) and the Global Poker Index (GPI) had signed a deal with Chinese television company Sina Sports in April 2016 to expand and promote the GPL in China. Dreyfus stated that he believes the next poker boom will happen in Asia and China will be one of the biggest markets for the poker industry.
Jacobson stated that it was difficult for anyone to fully understand the passion that Chinese poker players have until one visits China and meets players face to face. Having interacted with a number of players and fans, Jacobson fully agrees with Dreyfus’s views on China. Jacobson also spoke of how overwhelmed he was when he landed in China.
In an interview with Lee Davy, Jacobson said “Starting at the airport in Changsha, I was greeted by poker fans who wanted me to sign anything from a set of red tens playing cards to their bare skin. I later got told that some guys had been driving for hours just for the opportunity to shake my hand. I believe I posed for at least 100 photos with different people and signed just as many autographs in just a few days time. I’ve never experienced anything like it, and it was weirdly just as refreshing as it was exhausting.”