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Poker Central has announced a new initiative for 2021, the PokerGO Tour. It will comprise 150 high stakes tournaments, many of which already existed as standalone events. Examples include the Poker Masters, Super High Roller Bowl and US Poker Open.
The marketing hype makes the most of a new ranking system that will award Player of the Year recognition, accompanied by a prize of $100,000. PokerGO states:
“The PokerGO Tour™ will mark the first time an official tour and ranking system of this magnitude has been seen in the poker industry, which will separate and celebrate the most elite professional poker players in a similar fashion to the ranking systems of the world’s most renowned professional sports.”
The ranking system awards points based on the size of tournament prizes and cash game winnings. Tournament buy-ins are divided into three brackets. Points are calculated as a percentage of the amount won, with the percentage based on the bracket:
Cashes for over $1 million are rounded up to the next million for purposes of points calculation, to a maximum of $5 million.
In addition to the Player of the Year, the second and third place finishers will receive a prize. These are in the amounts of $50,000 and $25,000 respectively.
The flagship events of the PokerGO Tour run through early Summer to the Fall. The big money tournament series that form the foundation of the Tour are:
PokerGO President Mori Eskandani is the man behind Poker After Dark, High Stakes Poker and the National Heads Up Poker Championship. Nobody has a better track record of success in broadcasting poker. Even so, his claims about the tour’s originality are a bit overblown:
“The sport of poker is hundreds of years old and until now, there has not been a globally recognized tour and ranking system that establishes and celebrates the most elite players across the globe, so we started something we hope will evolve and grow.”
The World Poker Tour and World Series of Poker both have their own Player of the Year systems. Meanwhile, the Global Poker Index ranks the world’s tournament players across a wide range of events, both on an ongoing and annual basis.
Eskandani no doubt feels the structure of the PokerGO tour sets itself apart from these competing ranking systems. From the average poker fan’s point of view, however, it no doubt sounds odd to claim that there has never before been “a globally recognized tour and ranking system.”
Poker entrepreneur Alex Dreyfus made a big splash with the Global Poker Index when it first launched. However, his later attempts to “sportify” poker using those rankings as a starting point didn’t go nearly as well. Eskandani’s plans seem like another attempt along the same lines. In the press release, Eskandani says:
“The PokerGO Tour™ events will include the world’s most challenging high stakes events in the world, bringing poker front and center in the world of sports in a way that has never been done before.”
It’s a frequent wish that poker would get the same attention as other professional sports, but the track record of such efforts is not good. The Global Poker Index itself is still going strong, but the Global Poker League and related attempts to transform poker are dormant.
Meanwhile, Dreyfus himself has moved on from poker, starting a successful cryptocurrency business. Eskandani remains a poker guy through and through.
His PokerGo ranking system may or may not be a game changer. Unlike the GPL, however, the PokerGO Tour can succeed without necessarily causing a paradigm shift. What matters is the quality of the events in the PokerGO Tour and how they are presented to the public. In this, Eskandani is the industry-acknowledged master.