PartyPoker LIVE Joins Crowded Tournament Circuit, With Eye On North America

Steve Ruddock January 13, 2017 1702 Reads
PartyPokerLIVE

Tournament poker players will have even more options to choose from now. PartyPoker has announced PartyPoker LIVE, a new global poker tour with a North American focus.

PartyPoker LIVE, at a glance

The live events will be divided into three categories:

  1. PartyPoker Million events featuring $5,000 buy-in main events;
  2. PartyPoker Million Nationals events with main event buy-ins of $1,000;
  3. Stops on the PartyPoker Grand Prix.

The first PartyPoker Million stop will be at the Playground Club in Montreal. The main event will feature a $5 million (Canadian) guarantee, as well as a $1 million (CAD) for the winner.

“We are thrilled to be hosting the first PartyPoker Million with our online partner, PartyPoker,” said Playground Club Chief Marketing Officer Phil Sabbah. “Kicking off the tour in Montreal, Canada, gives all the North American players a first look at the amazing events PartyPoker will offer in 2017. We will also be featuring live phase 1’s in the club for all our players.”

Where did PartyPoker LIVE come from?

PartyPoker LIVE events can be traced back to the sale of the World Poker Tour (WPT) in 2015.

GVC prevailed in a bidding war with 888 Holdings that lasted much of 2015. Then it completed its $1.7 billion acquisition of bwin.party in early 2016.

But before the bidding war between 888 and GVC broke out, bwin.party offloaded one of its key assets. It sold the WPT to Chinese online game developer OurGame for $35 million.

As part of the agreement, PartyPoker would “continue to sponsor various WPT events and television shows in both the United States and Europe until [Dec. 31, 2016],” per a statement from bwin.party at the time of the sale.

The evolution of PartyPoker LIVE

In addition to maintaining a presence at various WPT stops, PartyPoker has also been experimenting with other live events. The sale of the World Poker Tour ostensibly left PartyPoker without a live event presence once 2016 ended.

PartyPoker has:

  • Brought back the PartyPoker Million (in a slightly different format than the first iteration, which featured a cruise) at the Dusk Till Dawn Poker Club in the UK;
  • Launched the online/live Grand Prix Series;
  • And hosted a very successful tournament series in the Bahamas, the Caribbean Poker Party.

With the success of these events — and with PartyPoker’s sponsorship of WPT events officially coming to an end — GVC decided to take the next step, announcing the launch of PartyPoker LIVE.

“Listening to feedback from the players at the Caribbean Poker Party it was clear that there was a desire for events that not only offer high guaranteed prize pools but also fun off the felt,” said PartyPoker Group Head Tom Waters.  “With the 2017 PartyPoker LIVE events schedule, there will be something for everyone. Online qualifiers start from $0.01 on PartyPoker giving players the opportunity to travel all over the world to take part in some amazing events.”

Is the North American market becoming (too) crowded?

The launch of PartyPoker LIVE comes on the heels of PokerStars assembling its myriad live events under the PokerStars Festival and PokerStars Championship banner. PokerStars is also placing a renewed focus on the US and North American market. Tt recently reentered that market via New Jersey.

There are only a trio of states that have legalized online poker right now. Despite that fact, it appears PartyPoker and PokerStars will both become very active on the live event front in North America. There, they will take on not only the World Poker Tour. There are a bevy of smaller, better-established poker tours like the WSOP Circuit and the Mid-States Poker Tour.

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