Global Poker League Continues Team Poker Expansion, Next Stop: India

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The Global Poker League announced plans to enter India’s emerging poker market on Tuesday, providing details for how the league will apply its team poker concept in the world’s second most populous nation.

Alex Dreyfus and GPL India
Poker entrepreneur Alex Dreyfus has entered the India market with his Global Poker League and will be facing competition from two other groups. (Image: Global Poker Index)

In a press release announcing details about the new league, GPL founder and CEO Alex Dreyfus said, “GPL India will take all the lessons learned in GPL’s first season, as well as GPL China’s current successful rollout, to create the most legitimate—and, perhaps more importantly, most appealing—poker competition witnessed in India until now.”

Modeled after the structure of the GPL’s first season, GPL India will feature six teams based in six cities for 2018. The names of the squads are the Delhi Diehards, Mumbai Jetsetters, Bengaluru Hackers, Chennai Sharks, Kolkata Creators, and Ahmedabad Alphas.

Each team will consist of six players and a manager. Most players will be pros with established results according to Global Poker Index rankings, but amateurs also can earn roster spots through qualifying events.

Worldwide Expansion

The GPL’s first season ran in 2016, featuring six teams from North and South America, and six teams from Europe and Asia. The Montreal Nationals were crowned champions in November.

Dreyfus labeled the season a success, though that didn’t come without changes and controversy that left GPL’s future in question. Eventually Dreyfus decided to postpone the second season, opting for a less universal approach that instead focused on a country-by-country expansion, starting with China and then India.

In July, Dreyfus announced there would be 12 teams in the inaugural GPL China. Unlike the original GPL, this group of players to compete next year will be determined exclusively through satellite qualifiers. GPL India will use a hybrid of the two approaches to team selection, with both a draft and open qualifier spots.

GPL India Teams
GPL India teams. (Image: Global Poker League)

Crowded Marketplace

With China set, Dreyfus turned his attention to India, only to find two other leagues had set up shop ahead of him. Both the Poker Sports League (PSL) and the Match Indian Poker League (MIPL) launched in the Spring, looking to capitalize on India’s burgeoning poker market and the team poker concept.

PSL kicked off in March with a ceremony at the Playboy Club in New Delhi. They have 12 teams with nine players, and the first season culminated in May with a five-day event that saw the Delhi Panthers as inaugural champions.

PSL cofounder Panal Bagai believes his crew can dominate in the India team poker space.

“On closing our first season with a splendid grand finale, we are sure that this is definitely not a one-and-done season,” he said. “We have plans to come up with season two next year.”

The Match Indian Poker League is a little different in that it uses a “duplicate poker” setup, which requires digital technology to play. The game is played on tablet computers, with team members all sitting at different tables, but receiving the same cards in each hand.

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