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Alibaba Sports Group to launch new International Poker Tour (IPT)

Fri, Dec 9, 9:21am by Senior Writer

Per recent reports by the Chinese poker media outlet, the Alibaba Sports Group held a press conference in Shanghai late last month, announcing the formation of the International Poker Tour (IPT).

As the name suggests, the IPT is slated to hold poker tournament series in mainland China, as well as Asian, Australian, North American, and European venues.

According to a roughly translated version of the original report, the IPT will also include other competitive games like bridge and chess alongside traditional poker tournaments.

The report also mentions that Shanghai will host an upcoming IPT event, but dates and venue information for that event have not yet been finalized. Even so, the IPT organisers felt comfortable stating that USD$870,000 would form the estimated prize pool for the Shanghai stop’s Main Event, with approximately USD$200,000 paid to the champion.

IPT representatives outlined the operational philosophy behind the new tour during their introductory press conference:

“The International Poker Tour aims to promote and develop a healthy poker game with a healthy, competitive standard, and a fair, open sporting spirit.”

Alibaba Sports Group was established in September of 2015 as a subsidiary of Alibaba Group – the Chinese-based eCommerce behemoth – as a way of expanding the company’s scope of operations.

The original website was founded in 1999 by Chinese entrepreneur Ma Yun, better known in business circles as Jack Ma. The company specializes in providing streamlined sales services between consumers and businesses, with popular products including a shopping search engine and proprietary clod computing data archival.

The success of Alibaba has thrust Ma into the global elite, as he currently boasts a net worth in excess of AUD$35.5 billion. Profiles of Ma published by outlets like USA Today and Bloomberg have highlighted poker as one of the mogul’s chief hobbies.

On the December 2, just days after the initial IPT press conference, the Canada-based Sterling Group Ventures issued a press release to announce that its subsidiary Mojo Games has formed a ‘strategic partnership’ with VLeague Internet Technology Company Limited. VLeague is a Chinese corporation that serves as the exclusive online social gaming servicer for Alibaba Sports Group’s Chess and Card division.

According to the press release, the partnership between Mojo Games and VLeague was enacted to support the IPT initiative, as stated by Siliang Hao, Head of Chess and Cards for Alibaba Sports Group:

“Launching our online IPT tournaments in partnership with VLeague and Mojo’s social iGaming platform and poker games ensures we provide our IPT players with a fair, competitive and entertaining online poker experience. The IPT online site is a key part of our strategy to make the Alisports International Poker Tour a leading event in China and worldwide.”

Global Poker League founder and CEO Alex Dreyfus issued a Facebook post to applaud Alibaba’s entrance into the poker tour industry:

“Another step towards China embracing the game of poker as a skill game and a sport. You now have the two largest tech companies in China, Tencent and Alibaba, promoting the game of poker.”

As of yet, no dates or venues have been announced for the IPT, as the planning process for the newest global poker tour is still ongoing.

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