Back in August, I wrote an article on the future of poker. One of my suggestions was that the top players should play together so the public can see their favourite stars regularly and all the finals will comprise great lineups.
To demonstrate how fast poker is expanding, that idea is now a reality with the Professional Poker Tour selecting 200 top players by a process of achievements or invites to hold a 1 – 3 year card to attend 5 $500,000 freerolls held at WPT events. This is a win win situation for both players the WPT and the public.
The players, especially Americans, who would be playing the World Poker Tour circuit anyway now have five second chances. There is also the possibility to wear sponsor approved logos which Ii am sure will increase the number of sponsored players. To keep their card the players must attend a minimum of two of the PPT events and half the WPT events. Obviously the traveling European qualifiers will attend at least the five WPT events with a PPT along side.
The WPT meanwhile get to make a second show at a lower cost as all the labour and equipment are in place and the public are guaranteed to see the stars of poker fighting it out at the PPT finals. The qualification process allows potential stars of the future to”win” their card and in theory the players with a three year card could be playing freerolls for the next twenty or thirty years.
Providing the players who aren’t sponsored can afford to play the WPT circuit and take their chances in the freerolls this concept is guaranteed to be a success and will take poker to the next level.
We haven’t yet had a major brand willing to associate their name with a poker event but with the results that have been happening so far this season I don’t think it will be long. Of the seven WPT’s to date four have been won by proven stars of the poker world – Surinder Sunar , Doyle Brunson , Daniel Negreanu and Carlos Mortenson proving that poker is a game of skill. Also I noticed something else which will, I hope, broaden pokers appeal. As well as Doyle winning $1,000,000 + in his early seventies, in Europe one of the great Irish players George McKeever just beat 286 players at the Master Classics in Amsterdam in an 800 Euro No Limit event and he, I would guess, is in his early sixties. Then Eric Dalby in his mid seventies and the eldest player in the tournament held by Ladbrokes on a cruise ship won a $250,000 prize.
These results prove that not only is poker a game of skill but if you are willing to work hard and constantly improve there is no reason why you can’t have success at any time in your life. What other sports can offer that?
Surely poker is a marketing dream. It appeals to men and women, all cultures and all ages. It is the biggest growing sport in the world both online and live and shows no signs of slowing down. Poker attracts every level of society from the postman to the billionaire banker as well as film stars and other sports people who are having success at the highest level further promoting the game.
I hope that when the EPT is screened next year that the expansion will continue throughout Europe and that will bring new players in until eventually the top brands are going to have to realise their is a serious opportunity to be a sponsor of a poker event and not worry about the old ingrained image that poker had 50 years ago.
I have no doubt by the time the World Series of Poker takes place next year something huge will have happened and I want to be part of it!