Remember the Epic Poker Tour? That may not have lasted very long, but one of its associated properties known as the Global Poker Index (GPI) remains perhaps the best ranking of tournament poker pros available to us today. But the rankings are only really influenced by major tournaments with high buy-ins: great for fans and media who want rankings to refer to, but not much use for the typical grinder who plays in events with moderate buy-ins.
But now, every serious poker player can dream of landing on a GPI rankings list. The GPI has announced the creation of the GPI Challenger Cup, a leaderboard designed to rank players based only on their participation in low and mid-stakes live tournaments. Only tournaments with buy-ins of less than $2,000 will be included in the rankings, and tournament from over 1,430 casinos will be included in the calculations. Otherwise, the formula is similar to that used in the GPI Player of the Year race.
Rewards, Recognition for Mid-Stakes Players
“The GPI Challenger Cup is another new milestone that we wanted to bring poker players,” GPI CEO Alex Dreyfus said via a press release. “This Cup is designed to reward consistent performance and results in this specific tournament buy-in range with more than just a title, but a real reward as well. This is just the latest of many more exciting announcements we’ll be bringing the poker community this year.”
The rewards Dreyfus speak of will be given to the top three finishers in the 2014 Challenger Cup. The top finishers in North America, Europe and Asia will each earn a 2015 World Series of Poker Main Event package, as well as other prizes GPI says will be announced at a later date.
Standings Feature Top Pros and Relative Unknowns
Interestingly, there expects to be a significant overlap in the rankings for the Challenger Cup and the overall GPI standings. This is due to the fact that – while high buy-in events get the most headlines – the majority of GPI-eligible events fit under the $2,000 limit for the new competition.
That means that the Challenger Cup standings should feature a mix of up-and-coming pros along with some of the world’s best. According to Dreyfus, about 20 percent of the GPI 300 will also find themselves ranked in the Challenger Cup standings.
In the Americas region, two-time WSOP bracelet winner Dan Heimiller is the Challenger Cup leader on the first rankings list. Other notables fighting for the lead include Jeff Madsen (8th), Greg Raymer (21st) and Will Failla (23rd). In Europe, France’s Erwann Pecheux is the leader (and has the most Challenger Cup points overall), with Max Pescatori (4th) and Pierre Neuville (9th) not far back. Asia’s standings are currently topped by South Korea’s Jae Kyung Sim.
Ultimately, Dreyfus hopes that the Challenger Cup will help grow poker by giving players more incentive to play in mid-stakes events – and more recognition to those who succeed there.
“We want the whole poker community, players and industry stakeholders, to work together to bring poker to another level,” he said. “We need to build new avenues for competition, and create more recognition for players at every level, not only just the very top. The GPI Challenger Cup is built to do exactly this, and do so with the same impartial legitimacy that’s pushed GPI poker’s trusted ranking authority.”