Chinese internet and gaming giant Tencent has struck a multi-year agreement with the World Series of Poker (WSOP) to spread poker’s most popular brand throughout Asia in a variety of innovative ways.
The Executive Director of the WSOP, Ty Stewart, has described the agreement as a “ten year deal.”
The deal was announced at the opening of the 48th annual WSOP Main Event on July with the goal of the new strategic alliance being to help educate and grow the competitive game of poker in Asia using the digital expertize, reach and distribution of Tencent, combined with the WSOP’s tournament expertise, brand value and authority. In a statement, the companies said they hoped to inspire and educate the next generation of competitive players and provide an opportunity for anyone to become a world champion.
The alliance will also seek to include elements inspired by eSports in future events to further bring the competitive and strategic thinking of poker to a broader crowd.
As part of the alliance, the WSOP will develop a program for Tencent to help train and certify poker tournament staff and provide expertize on event structures, rules, equipment and procedures to ensure any live poker events in Asia use the globally-recognized standards of the WSOP, which was first held in Las Vegas in 1970 and remains the most prestigous poker tournament series in the world.
“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 Stewart. “We plan to use the WSOP brand and our expertize, along with Tencent’s reach in Asia, to inspire the next generation of competitive sport players.”
Tencent has also been granted exclusive merchandise rights to the WSOP brand in Asia and will design, manufacture and sell WSOP-branded goods. Tencent will have media content distribution and production rights in Asia, including live streaming of events and reality- based programs.
“We are very excited to partner with WSOP and hope to leverage our expertise in eSports to bring new innovations to the competitive game of poker,” said Corporate Vice President of Tencent Group and President of Quantum & Lightspeed Studio Group, Jerry Chen.
Tencent Poker, launched in 2014, is the most popular play-for-fun social poker app in China.
The Tencent Poker social game will soon offer a WSOP branded game zone promoting the competitive spirit of poker with interactive content, as well as a portal for potential land based tournaments. The Tencent Poker App will continue and remain a free-to-play app.
The WSOP will assist Tencent in hosting their land-based poker events in Sanya each December to help ensure they are run efficiently and provide guests with a first-rate poker experience.
Tencent is also planning the first ever WSOP China online qualifiers via its Tencent Poker app in August 2017, with the first WSOP China event in December 2017.
Partnership plans include land-based events such as WSOP China and WSOP Asia featuring the game’s most coveted trophies – WSOP gold bracelets. In addition, WSOP China Circuit events awarding gold rings are also expected to be developed. Any events held in mainland China will be free-to-play offerings designed to showcase the fun, social and competitive nature of poker, assisting participants in learning both the rules and the skills required to successfully compete.
All events, including those in mainland China, must adhere to applicable laws and regulations in the jurisdictions they occur.
Any live events organized by Tencent and integrating the WSOP brand will involve media components with live event reporting, live streaming and potential television distribution to help spread awareness of poker in the region.

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