Only three months away from its grand opening, the first edition of the Global Poker Masters (GPM) is beginning to take shape.
Set to take place at the Hilton Hotel in Malta on March 21-22, the Global Poker Index-powered event aims to bring together some of the greatest poker players and push them into competition in an innovative team event.
Organized as an invitation-only event without an entry fee, the GPM is a country-based poker championship that will see players from the eight top-ranked countries in the GPI (USA, UK, Germany, Canada, Russia, France, Italy and Ukraine) compete against each other.
Each of the countries included in the event will be represented at the tables by a five-player team composed of its top four players in the GPI, plus one 'wildcard' that will be decided in an innovative way the GPI plans to announce during the coming weeks.
"There is no buy-in for the event. We want to create an international competition where players are playing for pride, for their country and for the love of the game," GPI CEO Alex Dreyfus told PokerNews.
"The fact that we do not have a buy-in for the event also helps us to connect with non-poker partners as it takes the gambling factor out of the game," Dreyfus continued, mentioning his famous mission to 'sportify poker' that he is determined to continue into 2015. "The players will join the Masters to play poker, not to gamble their money.”
2015 GPM National Team Rosters
"Seventy to eighty percent of the players that are in that list are going to come," Dreyfus explained. The CEO of the GPI is optimistic about the response of players from France and Italy, although he admits that it may be a little hard to convince 2014 Player of the Year Daniel Colman to accept the challenge and take the place he deserves at the Master's tables.
Here's a look at the 40 players that Dreyfus hopes will take part in the first edition of the Global Poker Masters and defend the colors of their countries in what many believe could soon take the role of live poker's 'official World Cup.'
|Team USA||Team United Kingdom||Team Germany||Team Canada|
|Dan Smith||Stephen Chidwick||Ole Schemion||Ami Barer|
|Daniel Colman||Jack Salter||Marvin Rettenmaier||Sorel Mizzi|
|Pratyush Buddiga||Simon Deadman||Martin Finger||Mike McDonald|
|Jacob Schindler||Oliver Price||George Danzer||Andrew Chen|
|Anatoly Filatov||Erwann Pecheux||Dario Sammartino||Eugene Katchalov|
|Vladimir Troyanovskiy||Benjamin Pollak||Mustapha Kanit||Oleksandr Gnatenko|
|Ivan Soshnikov||Sylvain Loosli||Andrea Dato||Artem Metalidi|
|Vitaly Lunkin||Fabrice Soulier||Giuliano Bendinelli||Oleksii Khoroshenin|
According to organizers, the final list of the event’s participants should be ready within the next couple of weeks - right when the GPI is expected to disclose more information about the fifth member of each team and the reach that the event may have thanks to some agreements currently being discussed.
"The priority of this first edition is to make the Global Poker Masters happen and to finally create a poker event that is not about the money but it is really about the interpretation of poker as a sport," Dreyfus indicated.
Real-time live stream to open up live betting
By Dreyfus' own admission, one of the keys for the success of the event will be its distribution and the way it will engage the public. His goal is to spice up the action thanks to some new live betting possibilities.
"I don’t want to say that we are going to be completely innovative in this, but we have in mind something different from what you usually see when it gets about live streaming," Dreyfus said. "The event will be streamed in five different languages and there will be no delay: people will see the action at the tables as it happens."
Although the importance of real-time streaming may not be immediately perceivable to many, the possibility of following the games as they happen opens up some interesting possibilities both for the event organizers and the spectators. Need an example? It would allow everyone to bet on the action as it happens, something we haven't yet seen in poker due to the delayed semi-live streams of events like the European Poker Tour and the World Poker Tour.
"The real-time live stream will allow us to cooperate with some bookmakers and give you the opportunity to do live betting on the Masters," Dreyfus went on. "I believe that the best way to engage more people is actually to allow everyone to follow it live - which is what happens with any other sport."
Malta to become poker’s world capital in March
The GPI’s Global Poker Masters and its impressive lineup of poker champs is only one of the events that are going to heat up the Mediterranean island of Malta in March.
Together with the Masters, PokerStars will bring its first-ever EPT Malta Festival to Portomaso Casino, a remarkable event that will run from March 18-28, 2015.
The Malta Festival replaces the EPT stop in Sanremo and is set to offer a massive event-rich calendar that will combine the EPT events with those part of the PokerStars-owned Italian live poker series Italian Poker Tour (IPT) for a total of 67 different poker tournaments.
Also, on March 25, the Global Poker Index will celebrate the year that was with the 14th edition of the European Poker Awards, one of the industry’s most significant gatherings that will again award the best players, the industry leaders and the operators that contributed the most to the development of the game during 2014.