With the inaugural draft of the first-ever Global Poker League (GPL) less than a week away, the 12 franchise managers set to pick their teams at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills are getting ready to participate in an event that could potentially change poker as we know it today.
Amongst those, manager of the Hong Kong Stars and Team PokerStars Pro Celina Lin is one who is already working hard to find the best strategy to leave the draft with the best possible team in hopes of both winning the league and achieving an even more ambitious goal: "bring poker to the masses."
"As a player, I understand the excitement of playing poker, but, as a GPL team leader, I feel that one of the most important things is to grow the game of poker," Lin told PokerNews. "I want to take the next step and build something bigger. As I grew up, I played many different types of games. I am happy to see that there is a market for professional gamers, which is very similar to being a poker player. I believe the GPL is one of the building blocks to making poker even more of a sport."
The journey and connection to the fans are what will make winning the GPL even more thrilling.
Talking about her involvement in the GPL, Lin explained that Dreyfus' vision of a new competition that aims to bring the game to a wider audience by adding sports elements to it is what motivated her to jump on the project since its very beginning.
"Alex didn't need to convince me to be a part of GPL," she said. "When I was offered the opportunity to be the manager of the Hong Kong Stars, I immediately was on board. The thought of 'sportifying' poker, which has never even been done before, excites me like no other. I think that GPL is one of the most exhilarating projects to come to poker in a long time. I'm happy to be a part of it from day one."
"Jackie Chan Would Be An Awesome Team Member!"
The "sportification" of poker, however, is not Lin's only reason to join the GPL, as the Shanghai-born player who's often referred to as China's "Queen of Poker" sees the league as a way to promote poker in China and help many players in the region emerge into the global spotlight.
"I have spoken to many players who are interested in being drafted, especially in Asia," continued Lin. "However, I'm not looking for the best possible players, [but] I'm more interested in growing poker in Asia by introducing the rest of the world to many talented players in the region but unrecognized worldwide."
I want players who are passionate about growing the game as much as I am.
Expanding on the draft and on the criteria Lin is using to build up the list of players she will try to bring to the Hong Kong Stars, Lin unveiled that skills and results are not the only parameters she looks at. In her opinion, the GPL is something that does not stop at the felt.
"I think all aspects are important," Lin shared. "I'm not going to limit my team to one specific criterion, but I will look for ways to have all of it through balancing the team.Because all of the draftable players must be in the top 1,000 of the Global Poker Index like myself, I can say that all of the players will have significant results, so that's not as important of a factor. Ideally, I want players who are passionate about growing the game as much as I am, those that are willing to go the extra mile."
While Lin preferred not to share any of the names she has in mind to fight for the first-ever GPL, she did not hide that she has already found the perfect person to represent the team and give the event the visibility it deserves, as she stated that "having Jackie Chan on the team would be just awesome!"
"While winning the inaugural GPL would be fantastic, I think it would be even greater to build a team with the largest fanbase," Lin went on to explain. "Imagine having thousands of fans all throughout Asia and the world cheering for us in the finals while playing in the Cube. To me, the journey and connection to the fans are what will make winning the GPL even more thrilling."
Can the GPL Generate a New Poker Boom?
Similarly to Las Vegas Moneymakers manager Chris Moneymaker, Lin also seems to believe that an event like the GPL has the potential to make a positive impact on poker — especially if the 12 managers will be able to pick the right ambassadors for the game during the draft.
"The majority of the population doesn't know about poker yet, but once they discover it, they will realize it is just as entertaining as DOTA, League of Legends, Hearthstone, and many other games," Lin concluded. "I think GPL can give poker that stepping stone to bring poker to the masses. I would love to see all gamers and poker players cross games and grow all of the communities together because, in the end, we all play games for one reason: games are fun."