For at least the last couple of decades, there has been attempts at creating a poker system that would involve teams. While poker is, at its essence, an individualistic pursuit, casual fans and newcomers have stated in the past that “team” competition is something they also like. Several attempts have come in a live format and now one has started for the online world.
Team Gaming announced recently their “Team Poker” concept, which has been trademarked by its founder, Glyn Ottorfy. Citing previous efforts that present “no good team play option for online poker, partly due to the potential for collusion,” Ottorfy’s “Team Poker” system has created a system that allows for tournament competitions, team versus team battles and promotions, among other things. Also taken into consideration are team sizes, with a handicap process which allows smaller teams to compete on par with larger ones.
In the effort to combat collusion, the “Team Poker” concept employs what is called by the company a patent-pending “Seating Protocol” which “eliminates any potential for collusion between teammates in poker tournaments by never allowing teammates on the same table with opponents.” Few details are provided on this “protocol,” however, including how it would apply to final table circumstances.
“Our patented system brings a synergism and camaraderie to poker that only teams can enable,” said Ottorfy during the announcement of the new organization. “We plan to re-ignite the poker industry with team and league play in addition to the traditional individual performance and reward system. Team Poker is truly the new paradigm in poker.”
Ottorfy is looking to crowdsource the backing to get Team Poker up and running. Team Poker has been posted to Indiegogo, where the goal is to raise $50,000 within the next two months. Several award levels are offered to those who get involved, including subscriptions for play on the site and team waivers. The newly released Indiegogo campaign has had a bit of a time getting off the ground, however.
The “team poker” concept has been an idea that has been brewing since the early 1990s. Former gaming executive Robert Turner, in a discussion with this writer, recalled having an idea for a “team poker” concept as far back as 1991. “Marsha Waggoner and I took a team from the U. S. to Australia around 1992,” Turner commented. “Mike Sexton and Phil Hellmuth were on the trip, wish I had pictures!”
In 1999, Turner was behind the creation of World Team Poker, which he would spend the next decade bringing to fruition. “We signed 285 world-class players to contracts for the league,” Turner noted, which would be divvied up originally on a country status. In 2010, the first World Team Poker competition was held at the Bicycle Casino, with Team China (featuring former World Champion Johnny Chan and Maria Ho as key cogs) taking the inaugural championship.
A second World Team Poker event was set for play in Las Vegas at the South Point Casino in May 2011, but fates would intervene. “We were set for play, had Fox Sports 1 on tap for airing the tournament in prime time, but “Black Friday” caused a delay,” Turner recounted. “We’re still keeping hope alive (about bringing World Team Poker back), however, if online poker could make a comeback.”
In its own way, the inaugural Global Poker League also presented a “team” concept. Started in 2016, the GPL captured the attention of many in the poker world, but a second season has been a bit slow in its premiere. The GPL founder, Alexandre Dreyfus, has stated he’s trying to fix issues with the league, such as its length in 2016 that lasted from March until November, before moving forward with the league.
Whether Ottorfy will be able to develop “Team Poker” remains to be seen. Changing the mindset of the “lone wolf” poker player, however, is a difficult task. Even if it is only online, Ottorfy’s “Team Poker” faces an uphill climb.