March 2016: Alibaba, the immensely popular Chinese e-commerce company and one of the biggest retailers in the world, is set to create a poker boom in China. This is the latest sports partnership between the retailer and Ocean Sports and Entertainment to promote ‘Match Poker’, which is owned by the latter.
Match Poker is a non-betting format of poker that is played for points and not for money. Also, the cards are not dealt physically, but by a smartphone. It is a creation of the International Federation of Poker (IFP) and has often been called as a poker eSport.
Patrick Nally, president of the IFP, says about this partnership, “The alliance between Oceans and Alibaba Sports creates one of the most powerful forces in sports marketing anywhere in the world. 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.”
The partnership aims to get over 2 million players in the next 5 years with funding through media coverage, sponsorships, pay-per-play, subscriptions, etc. It also hopes to catch on with new, young poker players owing to its non-gambling format and the fact that players can create teams and compete on various levels.