The evolution of the European Poker Tour continues after PokerStars announce the end of the successful live tournament format to replacing it with a global-facing PokerStars Championships and Festivals model.
It’s been coming.
The European Poker Tour (EPT) has finally outgrown the backyard it has played around in for the past 12-years.
It’s going global.
I have worked in all of the major live tournaments and the wheels that keep the EPT turning are greasier than most.
We have seen the World Series of Poker (WSOP) try to recreate their Las Vegas magic in Europe and Australia. Let’s see what the PokerStars Live team can do as they start to flex their muscles on the global live tournament scene for the first time.
The EPT is dead.
The announcement was made by Neil Johnson, Head of All Things Live, at EPT Barcelona earlier today. It was the perfect place to make the announcement after the tour continued to smash attendance records this week.
Check out these new EPT records:
Barcelona Poker Cup – 3,095 entrants, from 3,011
€50k Super High Roller – 102 entrants, from 99
€1k Senior’s Event – 209 entrants, from 164
€200 Women’s Event – 209 entrants, from 148
€2k Estrellas High Roller – 1,182 entrants, from 1,055
€5,300 EPT Main Event – 1,708 entrants, from 1,694
€25k One Day High Roller – 166 entrants, from 152
€1,100 Estrellas Main Event – 3,447 entrants, from 3,292
As the associated press release so adequately put it, the changes were necessary because:
“The European Poker Tour (EPT) was outgrowing its borders.”
PokerStars officials have chopped the EPT in half. The PokerStars Championships will cater for the professionals and lucky bar stewards who managed to qualify for the bigger buy-in events via online or live satellite qualification. The PokerStars Festivals will mop up the saliva drooling from the lips of the recreational players.
This is effectively the EPT going on the road. Each Championship will be a 10-11 day festival, featuring up to 100 tournaments, and a variety of cash games. The pièce de résistance will be a signature €/$5,000 Main Event.
The first PokerStars Championships event will kick off at The Atlantis Resort, Bahamas (formerly the PCA) Jan 6-14. Four more stops are already in the bag with negotiations continuing for even more to be added.
Other confirmed stops are:
Barcelona August, 2017
Monte Carlo April 25-May 5, 2017
Macau March 30-April 9, 2017
Panama March 10-20, 2017
Each Championship will have a unique Player of the Year competition with a new tournament leaderboard for each stop. The POYs will win special VIP packages containing plenty of sugary treats including the chance to play in a PokerStars Championships freeroll with a guaranteed $100,000 winner takes all first prize.
Former EPT Main Event Champion, Niall Farrell, told CalvinAyre.com:
“I think the world tour is cool. There will be a lot of sentimentality towards the EPT name (myself included), but if it’s the same ‘on the floor’ staff, etc., then I think it will be great. The only issue may be convincing people to travel further for tournaments with a 23% payout structure; I wouldn’t fly to Panama if it remains the same but certainly, would if it reverts.”
The PokerStars Festival takes over from the United Kingdom & Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT), Estrellas Poker Tour, and the France Poker Series (FPS).
These festivals will run over a 6-7 day period with buy-ins starting as low as $/£/€200. The heart of each festival will be a Main Event stop with a buy-in somewhere between $1,000-$1,500.
New Jersey and London will host the first two festivals.
The New Jersey event will debut Oct 29 – Nov 6. It will feature more than 50 tournaments and will take place at PokerStars partner casino Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City. Buy-ins will range from $100 to $5,000, and it’s sure to attract a lot of interest. PokerStars have already confirmed the attendance of Daniel Negreanu, Chris Moneymaker, Jason Somerville, Barry Greenstein, Jason Mercier, and Vanessa Selbst.
This festival will also be the first time that PokerStars incorporates casino games into the schedule, with blackjack, video poker, slots and roulette tournaments entering the fray. There will also be a RunItUp day organised by Jason Somerville, and a Survivor “Immunity” tournament featuring Tyson Apostol and “Boston Rob” Mariano.
Here are the festival highlights:
· November 1-5, 2016, $1,100 PokerStars Festival Main Event
· October 30-31, 2016, $340 PokerStars Cup
· November 4-5, 2016, $2,200 PokerStars Festival High Roller
· November 4-6, 2016, $230 PokerStars Open
The London event will take place in Jan 2017, and negotiations continue to add even more venues to the PokerStars Festival fixture list in the coming months.
Both the PokerStars Championships and the PokerStars Festivals will take advantage of the PSLive registration technology. The enhanced system will allow players to register for tournaments ahead of time. There will also be self-service kiosks on hand at tournament venues.