The Global Poker League just got a new sponsor. Enter the red spade. Sugar Daddy PokerStars to the rescue once again. Yes, PokerStars announced today that they will be sponsoring the Global Poker League. Expect a big-ass red spade to appear on the “Cube” during any future live events. The latest news is a bit surprising because no one saw it coming, especially after the GPL kicked off the second half of its first season this week.
The GPL is the brain child of Alex Dreyfus. He's a visionary but he might have bit off too much than he could chew. The GPL's viewership was not exactly earth shattering during the first half of the season. The GPL garnered some attention this summer in Las Vegas when they introduced the CUBE for the first time. Actor Aaron Paul from Breaking Bad fame took on Fabrice Soulier in a heads-up match featuring the Paris Aviators against the L.A. Sunset. The Cube was definitely something different and it looked like the GPL was gaining steam. Then things got weird.
Over the summer, the GPL announced a few changes notable that they switched the location of their grand finale. It will no longer be in Wembley Stadium. The GPL also announced they were canceling its stint at TwitchCon. The reasons they gave were that many of their top pros wanted to go to Burning Man. Interesting excuse, but legit since many poker people have jumped on the Burning Man wagon. After all, it used to be a fringe event but now it just caters to the uber-wealthy looking to buy a fun time in the middle of the desert. Anyway, the GPL finals will not be at Wembley nor TwitchCon, but in Las Vegas instead.
Dreyfus explained that some of their ideas never came to fruition such as an online merchandise store and a fan interaction app that was almost like Daily Fantasy Sports version of GPL events.
Most recently, the GPL was involved in a mini-scandal involving the borrowing of boatloads of cash from poker pros. Fedor Holz was one of the few high-stakes sharks that were approached by GPL head Alex Dreyfus about a loan during the WSOP. Holz said that he gave US bucks in exchange for a bank transfer. However, the transfer never arrived in the time that was originally stated. Dreyfus apologized and paid up Holz and others in full plus interest. But it demonstrated that the GPL were having serious cash flow issues. Perhaps those were the real reasons for killing the Webley finale and the TwitchCon? That rampant speculation might have been confirmed with the latest news that PokerStars and GPL entered a sponsorship deal. Sounds like PokerStars just bailed out GPL to me.
So now what? There are plenty of GPL players who completely loathe the Red Spade. Sure, it's still the GPL and run by the GPL, but they can't bite the hand that feeds them, so who knows what kind of restrictions…if any…will be set forth for the rest of the season.
I just cut and paste the PR blast….
PokerStars Sponsors Global Poker League in Innovative Team Poker
PokerStars, the world's largest poker site, is the exclusive online poker sponsor of the Global Poker League, reinforcing Mediarex's aim, to help transition poker from just a player experience to a fan experience. One of the main ways the GPL is aiming to achieve this is through, their signature arena: “The Cube” which helps build excitement, suspense and enables on-site fans to see every angle of gameplay.
“The Global Poker League brings an innovative team-based twist to poker and we are happy to support Mediarex in their quest to bring poker to new audiences”, said Eric Hollreiser, PokerStars' Director of Corporate Communications.
PokerStars has previously supported GPL through the participation in the league of members of Team PokerStars Pros including Liv Boeree, Vanessa Selbst, Jason Mercier and ElkY.
GPL, CEO, Alex Dreyfus, said “We are optimistic about this partnership, having the support of PokerStars is a crucial step forward on the road to fully establishing the GPL as a real blueprint for poker entertainment in the future. PokerStars offers us a multitude of opportunities to grow our platform and continue developing our two-fold strategy of connecting the League to the poker community and genuinely connecting poker to the mainstream entertainment sector on a large scale.” Fans will also see the iconic PokerStars spade make its mark on The Cube.
PokerStars will be working with Mediarex Sports & Entertainment on a number of promotional initiatives designed to connect both existing and prospective poker fans to the GPL.
The GPL starts with 12 teams from across the globe consisting of a 72-strong roster of pros whose combined live tournament winnings exceed $400 million. The future is bright for team poker events with recent surveys indicated that 56% of poker fans would like to play in team tournaments and an additional 41% would be interested in being part of a GPL team.