It’s not often that I work at a live tournament on the European circuit and do not see the face of Alexander Dreyfus. The CEO of the Global Poker Index (GPI) is always in the news, for the part he plays in moving the game of poker away from the hidden corners of the world, and into the spotlight of the world’s sporting press, and it was great to catch up with him to talk about the past year and look ahead to his plans for 2014.
“When you create a company, of course, you have a vision. You know where you want to go and have a path, so to speak, but it’s never going to happen the way you think it’s going to happen. So I do have goals but they change all of the time.”
Dreyfus hit the headlines, earlier this year, when he acquired the Hendon Mob (HM) brand, and database, from the brothers Barny, Ross, Joe and Ram; so was this business decision a planned goal or simply a reaction to opportunity?
“When I acquired the GPI there was already a relationship between the two companies. Then the owners wanted to move on to another page of their lives and I wanted to own the data they had. So I think the acquisition was right for both of us. In business, it’s all about the timing, and in this instance the timing was perfect for both parties.”
From the outside-in you cannot do anything but assume that 2013 was an amazing year for Dreyfus, but what was life like from the inside-out?
“I don’t know if it was a successful year, but it was certainly an expensive one! I invested a lot of money, which is good, but it needs to come with an understanding of patience. I have been in this business for 18-years and this year I said, ‘If you want to be successful you need to be patient and if you want to patient you need to be rich.”
So was there anything that didn’t work out quite the way it should have done throughout 2013?
“I should have acquired the HM long before I finally did. I lost 6-months of operation by not doing that. The Fantasy Poker Manager App is pretty successful – we have 50,000 registrations – but we should be bigger in many ways. I believe in the last 12-months we have focused on building the product, and branding, and in 2014 we will be focused on monetization and taking revenue out of that hard work.”
I admire Dreyfus, because although I do not work for the GPI team, I feel like I am invested in it. My future, and the future of many people in this industry, is heavily dependent on visionaries like Dreyfus.
During a recent trip to Los Angeles I was reading the LA Times and a smile broke out on my face when I saw the GPI Top Ten taking pride of place amongst the league tables of the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB.
“We do want to be more visible in sport media and we hope to be announcing news on some significant media partnerships in early 2014. I have said this before – the best way to expose poker is to expose the players – to make them more well-known, elite – like sports stars.”
Dreyfus has recently entered into a partnership with PocketFives and it’s interesting to see the two forms of poker merging. I was a little inquisitive about how that relationship started and whether he had also spoke to HighstakesDB?
“PocketFives is a huge online community and they have a lot of stats on their players. It’s an opt-in system and there was already a relationship between HM and PocketFives when I took over. So we decided to go a bit further and you can see both sets of data on both sites now.
“We don’t plan to merge online and live rankings because most of the players who play online are anonymous and don’t want to disclose their results – especially in cash games – and this leads to issues with accuracy. Our live tournament data is 99.8% accurate, and it is so because we have spent so much money to make that happen.
“We have spoken with HighstakesDB but they only have online cash game data, and we don’t know who all the players are. This means I can’t connect all the dots, so it’s not going to help me right now.”
Ranking Hero is a new social media platform for players that also contains live tournament data. Does Dreyfus see Ranking Hero as a competitor, and if so, is this a good thing for him?
“The HM has been in existence for a decade and has formed the largest live tournament database in the world. We have spent millions acquiring this data. Are they a competitor? On the database front they could be, but they don’t have the relationships that we have built up with casinos worldwide over the past 10-years, or the legitimacy from the players. That’s not something you can get over night, it’s going to take 2, 3 4 or maybe 5 years, and at the same time we will be investing to make our products even better.
“On the social network front I find it very interesting and different. That’s probably not where we want to go. There will be some similarities, but do I believe in the project? I have a personal point of view, but cannot share that with you.
“We are friends, and we have had some arguments, and some good discussions. Does it challenge us? Today, no. But in the future…who knows. I am glad they are here, and spending money, because it’s good for poker. They just need to find their place in the ecology of poker because it’s more and more difficult as time moves on.”
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