Few hours ago, an announcement was made, to say that the World Series of Poker (WSOP) will be joining forces with Tencent, who is one of the biggest global internet companies in the world. This multi-year agreement will see the partnership seek to bring the WSOP brand to the whole of Asia, while educating and nurturing poker talent from across the continent.
“There is so much untapped potential in Asia and we’ve found the perfect partner in Tencent to help spread the great game throughout the entire continent,” said Ty Stewart, Executive Director of WSOP. “We plan to use the WSOP brand and our expertise, along with Tencent’s reach in Asia, to inspire the next generation of competitive sport players.”
Key points of the partnership are:
- Organisation of land-based events such as WSOP China and WSOP Asia featuring WSOP gold bracelets. In addition, WSOP China Circuit events awarding gold rings are also mentioned in the agreement.
- Tencent has also been granted exclusive merchandise rights to the WSOP brand in Asia
- Tencent will also receive media content distribution and production rights in Asia. These rights include live-streaming of events and reality-based programs.
What you should know about Tencent
Tencent is one of the largest internet and gaming company that provides a multitude of services such as entertainment, payment systems, media and advertising in China. It also specialises in mobile and multiplayer games online. Its instant messaging service (WeChat) has helped smooth its path to becoming one of the world’s top 10 internet companies.
Several years ago, Tencent took its first step into the poker world with a poker app called Tencent Poker. The application has now according to some estimation 100 million registered users and give players a chance to win seats to live events such as the Tencent Poker Tour in China. The last event of this tour saw 482 players competing for a 10,000,000 RMB prizepool (approx. US$1.44 Million).
China continues its shaping of the poker industry
In recent years, bonds have been forming between Chinese companies and big players in the world of poker. Ourgame has purchased the World Poker Tour for $35 million, and even PokerStars has felt the impact, with Hong Kong businessman Tang Hao buying up $300 million worth of shares in the company.
Alex Dreyfus and the GPI now also have Chinese support for their project, with sizeable investments coming from Hong Kong and Beijng. When you add a partnership between Tencent and WSOP into the mix, it’s clear that China has a huge role to play in how poker moves forward on a global scale.
Tours such as the International Poker Tour (IPT) which were announced last year by Alibaba Sports, suggest that live tours run by Chinese companies may also become more prevalent over the next few years. On top of that, Chinese companies setting down roots in the game should also lead to the game getting far more exposure in Mainland China and Asia, which in turn, should see more new players taking the game up.
Overall, the positive implications of these partnerships are significant, and could rejuvenate the entire game.
Article by Craig Bradshaw