A weekly round up of poker news including PokerStars plans for wholesale change in 2016, World Poker Tour creating Tournament of Champions and more.
PokerStars is protecting the present players and future posterity after announcing plans to make wholesale changes to the site in 2016. The pulverising changes will pound heavily on the Supernova and Supernova Elite players, but will create a tributary for recreational players to start swimming into more welcoming waters.
They are revamping the rewards program by axing a volume rewarding plan and replacing it with a skill based one aimed at retaining and attracting new players. Starscoins will become the new PokerStars currency of choice, third party software will go the way of the Dodo, and Neymar Jr. and Cristian Ronaldo will start earning their enormous salaries in marketing campaigns designed to drag their fans into the game.
Overseeing these changes will be Rafi Ashkenazi. The former Playtech Chief Operating Officer (COO) will become Chief Executive Officer (CEO), for Rational Group, replacing interim CEO Michael Hazel on Nov 9. Ashkenazi joined Rational Group as COO in 2013.
PokerStars premier live festival The European Poker Tour (EPT) had a great time on the tiny island of Malta last week. Scotland’s Niall Farrell defeated Bosnia & Herzegovina’s Alan Bilic to win the €5,300 Main Event and pocketed €534,330 in the process. There were also victories in the High Roller events for the Global Poker Index (GPI) #1 Byron Kaverman (€10k event), Steve O’Dwyer (€10k One Day) and Mike McDonald (€25k).
The World Poker Tour (WPT) has also had a busy week. Adam Pliska and the crew released the schedule for the second half of Season XIV, with a shock in store for fans of the WPT World Championships. The WPT’s premier event is gone, and in its place stands a new exclusive event known as the WPT Tournament of Champions.
The new event will feature the winners of the current season’s Main Events and any paying members of the WPT Champions Club. The venue has also altered with the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Florida taking over from the Borgata in Atlantic City. Pliska told CalvinAyre that the move was an important one for purposes of branding and to create more prestige around the WPT Champions Club members.
One WPT Champions Club member that could do with some prestige right now is Dwyte Pilgrim after former friend and colleague Aaron Massey outed him as a man who defaults on loan payments. Massey alleges that Pilgrim had run into some hard times and refused any form of payment plan to return money lent to him in good faith. Reports also suggested Pilgrim had failed to repay Brian Hastings after another staking plan gone sour.
Happier WPT player news – Ben Cade defeated Mark Lifman to win the WPT Emperors Palace Poker Classic in Johanessburg, and Shu Sun outfought 882 players to capture the WPT National China Main Event.
The GPI announced plans to host its second GPI World Cup. The format will take the form of a football group style system, and the invite will extend to 12 qualifying national teams. The event will be held Q4 2016 with the finals taking place in the GPI’s signature Cube. Italy is the reigning champions and will qualify automatically.
Finally, Poker Heaven announced plans to close after a decade in the online poker world. Cited as reasons for closure are environmental conditions and the ring-fencing of European markets. Players are being shepherded to fellow Microgaming Poker Network (MPN) site Betsafe.
Time Ladies and Gentlemen.
Someone has just called the clock.