The International Federation of Poker’s (IFP) Match Poker form of the game has been handed a major boost in China through a new partnership between the Alibaba Sports division of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group and the Oceans Sports & Entertainment agency.
The strategic partnership brings together the two organisations with the aim of developing and marketing sports in China and has already identified Match Poker, the digital, non-gambling, team-based variant, as a “priority project”.
Match Poker is a new e-sport version of poker where competitors play for points instead of cash prizes. Cards are replaced by hands dealt to smartphones, while all gameplay is conducted digitally and both individual and team performances, as well as match and league information, is recorded and stored centrally.
The IFP has said that Match Poker will generate revenue through pay-per-play, subscriptions, sponsorship and media rights. The organisation expects to attract two million players within five years.
“The alliance between Oceans and Alibaba sport creates one of the most powerful forces in sports marketing anywhere in the world,” IFP president Patrick Nally said. “I am delighted that their energies, attention and resources will be focused on launching and promoting Match Poker and that they share my belief in its massive worldwide potential.”
Oceans is a long-term supporter of Match Poker and has worked with the IFP for some time on developing the technology to drive the sport.
Shoto Zhu, chief executive of Oceans, added: “The strategic alliance with Alibaba Sports is a game-changer for Oceans Sports and Entertainment as it harnesses our specialist marketing skills and know-how with the media and e-commerce might of Alibaba Sports.
“It will enable us to promote sports opportunities effectively and decisively in China and beyond. Both Oceans and Alibaba are excited about its potential in the age of e-sport and it is a priority project for the alliance.”