With much of the world’s online poker markets wrapped up in government red tape and regulation, China is seen as one of the few spots where the game could boom again. And Chinese investors have poured money into Alex Dreyfus’ Global Poker League to help make this boom happen.
The fact that Dreyfus secured Chinese investments isn’t breaking news because this has been known for a while. But Business Insider recently detailed the extend to which Chinese investors are banking on the GPL.
Dreyfus’s parent company, Mediarex Sports and Entertainment, has raised $4.9 billion from investors like Hong Kong’s Head and Shoulders Capital and Beijing’s Ceyuan Capital.
The hope is that the GPL can “sportify” poker and make it more mainstream.
“It’s a mind sport, a skill game,” said Dreyfus. “If you play one game only, there is a big luck element, but if you play regularly then it’s the skill that is predominant.
“Since four years ago when we bought the Global Poker Index [the world ranking of poker players] the same players are always at the top. Tournament poker is a competitive game and like esports, the poker we envision is being structured as a sport.”
And thanks to smartphones, Chinese poker players have have more access to poker than ever before.
“Texas hold’em is not part of the cultural roots of China, but this has changed in the last few years thanks to the introduction of free poker applications on mobile phones,” said Dreyfus.
“Therefore, you have new generations of white-collar, educated and influential individuals that love the game and play regularly.”
People have been waiting for the Chinese poker boom for quite some time. Will Dreyfus and the GPL be the ones to make it happen?
If PokerStars becoming the GPL’s lead sponsor is any indication, it appears that there are others who believe in the GPL and China’s poker market. But only time will tell if China can cause a surge in global poker popularity.