PokerStars Announces Huge Bahamas Tourney With $9 Million Added; EPT Also Returns

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PokerStars made two big announcements at the PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event on Friday.

First, the online poker operator announced it would be resurrecting the European Poker Tour along with two other regional tours:

  • The European Poker Tour (EPT)
  • The Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT)
  • The Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT)

But the bigger news is the launch of a new live poker tournament that could be a game changer: the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship, or PSPC for short.

Say hello to the Players Championship

Taking place from Jan. 6-10, 2019, in the Bahamas, the $25,000 buy-in PSPC tournament will act as a lead-in to the 2019 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) series.

But the PSPC won’t be a typical $25,000 buy-in tournament.

The PSPC is an ambitious undertaking. As such, PokerStars is throwing a lot of money, over $9 million, into the pot to ensure it will be a success.

First, PokerStars is sweetening the pot by adding an extra $1 million to the first-place prize-money.

Second, throughout the course of 2018 PokerStars will be giving away 300 Platinum Passes to the tournament, valued at $30,000 each.

Photo courtesy of PokerStars (Neil Stoddart)

Each Platinum Pass will cover the buy-in to the PSPC as well as travel and accommodation costs. From PokerStars:

“A Platinum Pass includes buy-in to the $25,000 PSPC Main Event, six nights’ accommodation at Atlantis Resort Nassau, $2,000 in travel expenses and room folio and return car transfer from Nassau Airport to Atlantis Resort. It also will include some exciting yet to be announced rewards and surprises.”

Before a single player buys into the tournament, there will be $9 million in the prize pool. That’s $1 million directly from PokerStars and another $8 million through Platinum Passes.

Suffice it to say, the PSPC is going to have a huge prize pool, and will be one of the biggest tournaments in poker history, appealing to pros and amateurs.

  • The free Platinum Passes will provide the typical poker player with a chance to play in a high-roller event.
  • The tournament offers professional poker players a lot of value with the added million dollars and a softer field than they’d usually find in a $25,000 buy-in event, thanks to the hundreds of free entries PokerStars is awarding.

How to win a Platinum Pass

Platinum Passes will be awarded both live and online, with multiple paths available.

Photo courtesy of PokerStars (Neil Stoddart)

There are currently four ways to win a Platinum Pass though online play:

  1. Play any Major Series: COOP, SCOOP, TCOOP, MicroMillions or any new series.
    • All Main Event winners in these series will receive a Platinum Pass to the PSPC.
    • Further, every entrant in a major tournament series at PokerStars will receive a ticket to participate in a Platinum Pass freeroll.
  2. Players who participate in marquee events such as the Sunday Million and the Sunday Storm will also have chances to win a Platinum Pass.
  3. Cash game and sit & go players will have a chance to win Platinum Passes through randomized rewards from PokerStars’ normal challenges.
  4. The site’s loyalty program will randomly award players with a prize-package to the Players Championship.

Platinum Passes will also be awarded at live PokerStars events as follows:

  • Players who win a “Tier 1” Main Event will receive a Platinum pass to the PSPC.
  • Win a Platinum Pass through Wild Card and Last Longer competitions. For example, anyone making it to Day 2 of a Main Event might be entered into a random drawing for a Platinum Pass. Because of regulations, events held in some countries might have to offer a last longer or have players compete in a Sit & Go to win a Platinum Pass.

According to PokerStars, there will numerous ways to win Platinum Passes live and online that will be revealed throughout the year.

How big could the PSPC get?

With a $9 million floor, the PSPC prize-pool will almost certainly eclipse $15 million, and could grow to over $20 million depending on the number of paid entries.

To hit $15 million, the tournament would need to attract around 240 paid entries. A total of 440 paid entries would be required to reach $20 million.

That may seem like a tough lift, but PokerStars has run $25k tournaments that have flirted with 300 entries, without the incentives PokerStars is adding to the PSPC:

  • 2015 PCA: 269
  • 2014 PCA: 247
  • 2016 EPT Grand Final: 231
  • 2016 PCA: 225

In the heyday of the World Poker Tour, the $25k Championship had no problem exceeding 600 entries.

Further, a $25k pot-limit Omaha event (not no-limit hold’em) at the 2017 WSOP attracted over 200 players.

With the incentives PokerStars is offering, and the likelihood of traditional qualifying routes in addition to the Platinum Passes, the PCA will be a series every serious poker player will have to consider attending, and the PSPC will be at the top of everyone’s “must-play” list.

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The bottom line for the PSPC

As seen in the promotional video below, PokerStars is hopeful that the PSPC will quickly become a must play event that truly excites the entire poker community.


“We really want this to be the players championship where once a year players are the most important thing and are treated as such,” said David Carrion, the director of marketing for PokerStars.

“For the most part, you pay, you get a seat, and that’s what you get. We want to make the Players Championship much more meaningful than that. If you play this tournament we want you to come out of it thinking this really was a players tournament.”

The PSPC is also major overture to the professional poker community from PokerStars.

Unpopular changes have alienated a small swath of its customer base. Those led to an ongoing public relations nightmare for the company.

PokerStars is keenly aware they need to win the hearts of poker community back in many ways, and the PSPC is designed to do just that.

In a nutshell, PokerStars can use the Players Championship as a way to speak to its core values as a company, and help repair the strained relationship between the company and the professional poker community.

- Steve covers nearly every angle of online poker in his job as a full-time freelance poker writer. His primary focus for OPR is the developing legal and legislative picture for regulated US online poker and gambling.
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