Less coverage and more thought from 888Live Barcelona as Lee Davy ponders the efficacy of 888Poker’s World Series of Poker promotion: The 8-Team.
I caught the thing in my hand, opened it, and there was nothing but blood. A lot of blood. I thought it was a fly. Later, I would see another one in the shower, chilling on the wall, listening to the people next door getting it on.
I squished it.
I realised that both of these deaths, quite apart from being against my vegan values, were of mosquitos, and that was why I had bumps the size of edamame on my wrists; arms and why there was so much blood.
I wondered how many people’s blood was in the palm of my hand and on my shower wall?
I wondered if mosquitos carried HIV?
Then I read an article about a beached whale in Thailand that died, and during the necropsy, those holding the scalpel found 18 pounds of plastic carrier bags inside its guts, and I wondered what I could do about it?
So I trundled down the Barcelona High Street wondering so many things, including why nobody in this town seems to wake up until 10 am, and how they have managed to fight off the franchises for so long.
“Tourists go home.”
I thought about that too.
Then I settled down in a cafe, ordered a bottle of water, and started thinking about poker.
What could I write?
I settled on 888Poker’s 8-Team promotion.
18 Pounds of Plastic
I have to be honest, a few weeks back, I was going to write an op-ed on the 8-Team promotion, and it wasn’t going to be a positive one. I have long thought that the poker industry could do a lot better with the promotions it produces.
Honestly, I put the 8-Team promotion in the same coffin. I had the hammer in my hand. I had driven 8 of the 10 nails into the wood. And then I froze like as if stuck on a problematic crossword question.
I was in Barcelona at 888Live, why not sit down and talk to a few people about the lungs, liver and pancreas of this thing. Let’s cut it open and see what stares back.
Would it be 18 pounds of plastic?
For starters, it works.
The 888 team first rolled out the 8-Team concept in 2017. The rules were simple. Five 888Poker ambassadors would act as team captains representing their respective countries.
Next, the team would identify poker players or celebrities from the world of sport to act as wingmen to the team captains. Lastly, the final piece of this jiggery-pokery and the most important piece was to choose a qualifier to make up five teams of three.
Team UK – Chris Moorman (Cap), Will Kassouf (Wingman)
Team Brazil – Bruno Politano (Cap), Denilson (Wingman)
Team Canada – Parker Talbot (Cap), Griffin Benger (Wingman)
Team Sweden – Sofia Lovgren (Cap), Martin Jacobson (Wingman)
Team Germany – Dominik Nitsche (Cap), Mario Basler (Wingman)
Five of them reached the money: Sofia Lovgren (322nd), Dominik Nitsche (195th) and two qualifiers, one from Canada and the eventual winner of the promotion Joao Sousa Monteiro from Team Brazil who finished in 583rd place, and won a seat in the 2019 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event as his prize.
The fact that 888Poker decided to bring the same promotion back for the 2018 WSOP means it works, but how do you know if all of the boxes have a big fat tick in them?
How Does it All Work?
There are many ways that an online poker room comes up with the wisdom to run a promotion. Sometimes an employee wakes up with an inspirational idea, shares it with the team, and
But the WSOP is different.
You have to produce the goods for this event. It’s an opportunity not to be missed, not only from a branding point of view but the perspective of customer value.
If you love poker, then the WSOP is like the Super Bowl to an American Football fan, or the World Cup to a real football fan. If you’re running an online poker room, particularly one that’s sponsoring the event, then you have to leverage those emotional connections.
And this is how the 8-Team emerged from the blood, discharge and vernix.
888Poker wanted to give five of their players the opportunity of a lifetime. To not only compete in the most iconic event in the world of poker, but to do so while bending the ear of two of the most famous faces in the game.
The promotion is both global and local. It appeals to players from five different nations and condenses down into a powerful nationalised punch. Imagine being a German poker player who loves football and finding yourself having sushi with Dominik Nitsche and Mario Basler. Imagine being Monteiro, and having the talk to speak to World Cup winner Denilson who at one point in time was the most expensive footballer in the world.
How Do You Know It’s a Success?
You won’t see the metrics of this thing plastered on walls like x-rays in a quack’s room. But there are metrics, both social and in the online attendances.
Simply put, there was a lot of positive chatter about the promotion on social media, both during and after the gig, complimented by the numbers of people who attempted to qualify online.
And then you had the magic.
The stuff you cannot measure.
Standing in ground zero feeling the excitement of the likes of Monteira, treated like a star, likely for the first time in his life, living the dream.
Yes, it works.
888Poker wanted to change five people’s lives, and they did.
Promotions can always improve irrespective of success, and 888Poker know that. The latest iteration of this thing is bigger than before, more interesting, and with more prizes.
Here is what I knew before arriving in Barcelona.
Team Spain joined the mix.
Team UK – Chris Moorman (Cap), Niall Farrel (Wingman)
Team Sweden – Martin Jacobson (Cap), Anton Wigg (Wingman)
Team Brazil – Vivian Saliba (Cap)
Team Germany – Dominik Nitsche (Cap)
Team Canada – Parker Talbot (Cap)
Team Spain – Marti Roca (Cap)
And while in Barcelona I learned that Russia is also joining the fold to take the number of teams up to seven. Arseniy “Josef_Shvejk” Karmatskiy is the Team Captain. The details on the wingman (or wingwoman, hint, hint, nudge, nudge) comes later, whenever that will be. Karmatskiy recently won the European Poker Tour (EPT) in Sochi.
There are still Wingmen to be added to the mix, and of course, the qualifiers. All players who win WSOP Main Event satellites playing on 888Poker have the opportunity to apply for a spot in the 8-Team promotion. All they have to do is send a video to the Team Captain explaining why they are the right choice, cross their fingers, and hope not to die.
Once selected you are then included in a Whatsapp group with your Team Captain and Wingman, giving you the opportunity to begin mining for gold immediately.
Then, with the WSOP Main Event on the horizon, the qualifiers are brought to Vegas to meet up with their patriots to begin more in-depth training in preparation or the time of their life.
I’m glad I got to sit down and talk to people about the promotion.
It’s changed my mind.
I no longer think it’s a dying whale, and understand the philosophy behind the idea, and can imagine how much it means to those fortunate enough to experience the promotion from the belly of this beautiful beast. It would make you an 888 fan for life.
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.
Here are my two cents.
The 8-Team promotion must have eight teams. I get the connection with 888Poker, but 8-Team means eight teams. I understand that it’s not easy to find a meaty enough group of qualifiers in eight different nations to give the promotion a competitive edge for the recreational players who get involved. You don’t want to be in a position where Martin Jacobson and Anton Wigg settle down for a cup of tea while watching two qualifier videos. But let’s grow this thing and quickly.
The biggest sale for me, is also where I would like to see the most significant improvement. Emotion. The nerves, the tears, the joy of meeting stars of the game must be a sight to behold, and I want to see that all over my social media feed; YouTube channel, and in poker news sites all over the Internet.
The 8-Team promotion emerged through the emotion of its creators, and it lives on in the emotional guts of those who have been forever touched by its majesty. Now, I want to feel it.
You’ve created a visceral experience for those involved.
I want its perfume to linger in my hair. I want to see the participants kneeling on the floor in prayer. Come on 888, make even more people care.