Alibaba Sports has signed a partnership with Oceans Sports and Entertainment to offer “Match Poker”, a non-gambling form of poker to Chinese poker players, local media reports.
Ocean Sports and Entertainment, a China-based sports marketing agency, with ties to the International Poker Federation (IFP) says along with Alibaba, they aim to develop 2 million Chinese poker players over the next five years.
Although real-money Poker is illegal in China, “Match Poker” which was created by IFP has found a loophole in the system.
Match Poker is a team-based game, where players play for points rather than money, and hands are dealt on smartphones and tablets rather than physical cards – an esports version of poker where skill is touted as the biggest factor for winning.
Because of the unique twist on the game of Match Poker, the game is labeled as a “sport” rather than a gambling game.
For Alibaba and Ocean Sports, money will be able to be made off player subscriptions, tournaments, clubs and leagues within China, according to sports industry site, Inside the Games.
“The alliance between Oceans and Alibaba Sports creates one of the most powerful forces in sports marketing anywhere in the world,” said Patrick Nally, the President of the IFP. “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,” as quoted by PokerNews.