PokerStars Announces End Of EPT Era With Launch Of Global Poker Championship And Festival

Aug.24, 2016 3:09:AM
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PokerStars will launch two new global poker tours next year. The new tours will be called PokerStars Championship and PokerStars Festival. To pave the way for these new tours, PokerStars will retire its current live tours and tournament series, including the European Poker Tour (EPT), which is currently in its 13th season.

“With the European Poker Tour (EPT) outgrowing its European borders, PokerStars is making its biggest live events even bigger, by encompassing key PokerStars sponsored events from around the world and bringing players worldwide the much-loved EPT experience,” the company said in a press release issued today.

In addition to the announced live tournament rebrand, the press release also details a number of new technological developments, as well as new information about the inaugural PokerStars Festival New Jersey

event, set to take place at Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City this fall.

Live event reboot begins in 2017

PokerStars will officially launch its new tours in January 2017, beginning with the PokerStars Championship Bahamas 2017 — formerly known as the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. At that time, all subsequent PokerStars live events will fall into one of two categories, PokerStars Championship and PokerStars Festival.

PokerStars will also have several technological advancements in place for the PokerStars Championship Bahamas event. These new features are designed to speed up registration and provide a one-stop clearinghouse for information on the new tours.

They include:

  • Enhancements to the PSLive registration system, including an online platform for pre-registration prior to events;
  • A new mobile app for all PokerStars Championship events;
  • Self-serve terminals to streamline the registration process;
  • A new website (PokerStarsLive.com) for all PokerStars sponsored live events; and
  • The merging of PokerStars’ various live event social media channels to the single @PokerStarsLive account in January 2017.

About PokerStars Championship

PokerStars Championship will replace the major tournament series from the EPT and beyond. In addition to the Bahamas, PokerStars has announced Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Macau and Panama as Championship stops.

Per the press release, “PokerStars Championship events will take place in major cities, organised by the most prestigious casinos across the globe, and are designed to deliver the best poker experience on the planet for players of all levels.”

“The PokerStars Championship will include top-tier events that will visit the most exciting and prestigious destinations worldwide, similar to the much-loved European Poker Tour,” said PokerStars’ Director of Live Events Edgar Stuchly in the press release.

PokerStars Championship events will feature up to 100 tournaments, including a €/$5,000 Main Event, and will typically last 10-11 days.

The PokerStars Championship will also incorporate a new Player of the Year system, utilizing a Player of the Series leaderboard. The winner will receive a VIP package comprising a Main Event buy-in for the first PokerStars Championship the following year and accommodations, as well as an entry into a special invitational tournament featuring a $100,000 winner-take-all first prize.

PokerStars Festival

PokerStars Festival events will replace some of the more out-of-the-way EPT stops and the company’s many regional tours.

“The PokerStars Festival events have a more regional feel, positioned as an action-packed poker vacation,” Director of Live Events Edgar Stuchly noted in the press release.

The Festival events are week-long series culminating with Main Events in the $1,000-$1,500 price-point.

Impetus for the rebranding

It was likely a difficult decision to scrap a brand as popular as the EPT, but the change will lead to a more cohesive branding strategy for PokerStars, and helps consolidate the myriad of tours the company hosts or sponsors around the globe under a single umbrella.

The necessity for this becomes readily apparent when you peruse the extensive list of PokerStars live events:

  • European Poker Tour (EPT)
  • Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT)
  • UK & Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT)
  • Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT)
  • Australia New Zealand Poker Tour (ANZPT)
  • Italian Poker Tour (IPT)
  • Eureka Poker Tour (EUREKA)
  • Estrellas Poker Tour
  • France Poker Series (FPS)
  • The Aussie Millions
  • Brazilian Series of poker (BSOP)
  • PokerStars Live events

During the past couple years, PokerStars has been integrating some of its regional tours with larger EPT festival stops with great success. These dual-branded festivals have led to more exposure and higher attendance, thanks to the mix of local players and professional class of tournament players.

Updates on inaugural PokerStars Festival at Resorts Casino

During the company’s most recent earnings call, new CEO Rafi Ashkenazi revealed PokerStars would be hosting its first live tournament series in conjunction with its New Jersey online gambling partner, Resorts Casino Hotel.

Today, we learned a bit more about this tournament series. It will be the first live tournament series to sport the new PokerStars Festival brand — and the only event to do so until 2017 — aiming to live up to the new “Festival” name with some new, non-traditional events, including:

  • a StarsFun skills zone;
  • a casino festival with blackjack, video poker, slots and roulette tournaments;
  • a RunItUp Day with Team PokerStars Pro and Twitch superstar Jason Somerville; and
  • a Survivor “Immunity” Tournament featuring Tyson Apostol and “Boston Rob” Mariano.

The inaugural PokerStars Festival event will kick off at Resorts on Oct. 29 and run through Nov. 6, coinciding with the company’s first NJCOOP online tournament series. During the seven-day Festival, PokerStars and Resorts will play host to 50 tournaments with buy-ins ranging from $100 to $5,000.

Team PokerStars Pros will also be well represented at the PokerStars Festival, with Jason Somerville, Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein, Jason Mercier, Chris Moneymaker and Vanessa Selbst expected to be in attendance.

Eric Hollreiser, PokerStars’ director of corporate communications, said of the New Jersey initiative: “We are committed to growing the poker market in New Jersey and part of this strategy is to help make New Jersey the poker hub of America in November. We invite players from across the globe to pitch up in the Garden State for the best live poker experience available in the world, live and online, with the first ever NJCOOP kicking off ahead of the Festival with plenty of tournaments on offer and big prizes.”

The New Jersey PokerStars Festival highlights will be as follows:

  • Nov. 1-5, 2016, $1,100 PokerStars Festival Main Event
  • Oct. 30-31, 2016, $340 PokerStars Cup
  • Nov. 4-5, 2016, $2,200 PokerStars Festival High Roller
  • Nov. 4-6, 2016, $230 PokerStars Open
   
Steve Ruddock
Steve Ruddock - Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance online gaming writer, with a focus on the regulated markets in New Jersey and Nevada for USPoker.
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