The World Series of Poker announced a new partnership with Chinese mobile gaming and social media giant Tencent with the goal of growing poker in Asia.
The deal will see the WSOP brand appear on Tencent’s social poker app Tencent Poker, the most popular play-for-fun social poker app in China.
Tencent is China’s biggest internet company and owns major properties including WeChat and League of Legends.
It also owns a large stake in Activision Blizzard, the creator of Call of Duty and World of Warcraft, and Gears of War developer Epic Games.
Tencent and the WSOP will join forces to host the first ever WSOP China live poker event this December in Sanya and the WSOP will also create a program to help train and certify Chinese poker tournament staff.
The WSOP will offer its expertise on event structures, rules, equipment and procedures to ensure any live events bearing the WSOP’s brand will uphold the globally recognized standards of the WSOP.
“There is so much untapped potential in Asia and we’ve found the perfect partner in Tencent to help spread the great game throughout the entire continent,” said Ty Stewart, Executive Director of the WSOP.
“We plan to use the WSOP brand and our expertise, along with Tencent’s reach in Asia, to inspire the next generation of competitive sports players.”
Tencent will also get exclusive merchandise rights in Asia and is expected to produce WSOP branded goods.
As part of the deal Tencent also gets media content distribution and production rights in Asia, including live-streaming of events and reality-based programs.
Tencent’s Corporate Vice President Jerry Chen was at the Rio Hotel and Casino to help make the announcement
“We are very excited to partner with the WSOP and hope to leverage our expertise in eSports to bring new innovations to the competitive game of poker,” said Chen.
Goal: Grow Poker in Asia
The goal of Tencent and WSOP’s alliance is to tap into the massive Asian gaming market, something Tencent has already made big strides doing.
In 2014 Tencent launched Tencent Poker which has become the most popular social poker app in China.
Early last year Tencent signed an endorsement deal with former WSOP world champ Martin Jacobson to help grow the game in Asia.
Tencent has already begun hosting annual live poker events in Sanya in December. Due to gaming regulations all live events in China are free-to-play with players entering the tournament by qualifying through the poker app.
Part of Tencent’s partnership with the WSOP includes land-based events such as WSOP China and WSOP Asia which will award official gold bracelets, as well as plans for a WSOP China Circuit where players can win WSOP gold rings.
All future live events by Tencent using the WSOP brand will involve live updating, live streaming and possibly television distribution to help raise poker’s profile in the region.