If you love poker then for the past few years the month of December has been dominated by one word – Prague.
The Prague Poker Festival is in its third year and its organizers Living it Loving it continue to put on a series of events that provide players with fun, Christmas cheer and above of a lot of value.
Money is tight and the Living it Loving it CEO, Dave Brannan, recognizes this. He understands, like most people do, the value in getting the live tournament organizers together to create a series of tournaments that seamlessly interact to provide the players with more bang for their buck, which in return does likewise for the tournament organizers.
However, this theory is more difficult to put into practice and is why, at this time of year, Dave Brannan is one of the most nervous people in Prague.
“I am very nervous. Everyone is in town and I just hope that everyone turns up.
“We need players. The players are everything to us. It’s about getting all of the sites in the same place to keep it economical for the players, and therefore we need volume. We have spent a lot of money on the event and we need a return on that. So it’s the question of volume that gets me nervous”
It seems such a simple concept and one that the very top companies in the world understand better than ever. Sometimes you have to work with your competition in order to create more revenue, not against them, but this is not always the case in poker. The European Poker Tour (EPT) Main Event is clashing with the World Poker Tour (WPT) Main Event, and the EPT have also scheduled their High Roller event to coincide with Days 1B and 1C of the WPT Main Event.
How exactly, does this help the players?
“It’s difficult especially with one main competitor that swamps the marketplace. If all of the sites worked together we would give players value, if they break off on their own then the players lose value.”
Brannan is also the CEO of Mind Sports International and he talks enthusiastically about his role in helping to improve education through the medium of mind games like poker, chess and scrabble.
“Poker players are always playing other games and we wanted to see how we could take advantage of that. So we stood in front of a white board and brainstormed other games similar to poker, and the main three we came up with were Chess, Scrabble and Magic the Gathering.
“That’s how Mind Sports International began. Since then the idea has changed immensely and we now have educational authorities from all over the world contacting us to get involved. We literally run scrabble worldwide, we’ve just done the Word Scrabble Championships and are doing the American Schools Scrabble Championships next year.
“We are going to go into schools to run nightclubs for people to learn how to play strategic games. We have a tour on the West Coast: Las Vegas, San Francisco and Los Angeles. We are going to add Leagues of Legends and E Sports. Its very exciting.”
Poker and education? That doesn’t seem like a suitable fit. Then again why not? Doesn’t poker create a fun way for children to improve their mathematical knowledge, understanding of strategy and improvements in emotional intelligence and intuition? Has poker just become stigmatized with money, scamming and cheating?
“At the moment poker is a no go because we are talking about education and children. But the US is more open to that than most countries. In essence the company is all about reconnecting communities. We like getting people together, having a good time, in an affordable way in great places.
“Poker is viewed as a gambling game. Chess is a perfect game. Every piece of information you need is there. Scrabble is more like poker because it’s a game of incomplete information. I think the problems are just cultural. Poker in China and Brazil is a sport. League of Legends in US is now deemed a sport.
“The word is changing and it’s how you educate it that is important. 250 schools in the UK have chess on the school curriculum; Thailand has Scrabble in the school curriculum. The problem with poker is Black Friday, gambling problems, and the online poker industry not regulating itself together. Most of all there is no live circuit. For years, my goal has been is to create a PGA tour for poker, so we can attract sponsors. Once sponsors start touching poker it will be legitimized. But if the sites don’t change, and come together, it won’t happen, and at the moment the sites are all just fighting to get the quickest buck.”