Top performing player across 150 high stakes tournaments will earn an additional $100k and Player of the Year title

PokerGO Announces New Tour And Rankings System For 2021

Poker Central has announced a new initiative for 2021, the PokerGO Tour. It will comprise 150 high stakes tournaments, many of which already existed as standalone events. Examples include the Poker Masters, Super High Roller Bowl and US Poker Open.

The marketing hype makes the most of a new ranking system that will award Player of the Year recognition, accompanied by a prize of $100,000. PokerGO states:

“The PokerGO Tour™ will mark the first time an official tour and ranking system of this magnitude has been seen in the poker industry, which will separate and celebrate the most elite professional poker players in a similar fashion to the ranking systems of the world’s most renowned professional sports.”

Ranking system includes cash games and tournaments

The ranking system awards points based on the size of tournament prizes and cash game winnings. Tournament buy-ins are divided into three brackets. Points are calculated as a percentage of the amount won, with the percentage based on the bracket:

  • $10,000 to $24,999: 0.1%
  • $25,000 to $99,999: 0.06%
  • $100,000 and up: 0.03%

Cashes for over $1 million are rounded up to the next million for purposes of points calculation, to a maximum of $5 million.

In addition to the Player of the Year, the second and third place finishers will receive a prize. These are in the amounts of $50,000 and $25,000 respectively.

PokerGO Tour 2021 highlights

The flagship events of the PokerGO Tour run through early Summer to the Fall. The big money tournament series that form the foundation of the Tour are:

  • US Poker Open—Starts Jun. 3, 2021 and ends on Jun. 14. 12 events held at the PokerGO studio in Las Vegas. Players will compete for the inaugural Eagle Trophy according to the new rankings system.
  • PokerGO Cup—Comprises eight events from July 1 to July 10 with a break for the Jul. 4 Independence Day holiday. The Main Event is a $100,000 buy-in NLHE tournament. This is a completely new addition to the annual poker calendar.
  • PokerGO Heads-Up Championship—A $3.2 million prize pool is on offer for the 32 professional players who will gather on Jul. 12.
  • Poker Masters—Another 12 event series that kicks off on Sep. 13 and ends Sep. 24. Event winners each get a purple jacket, echoing the famous green jacket of the Augusta Masters golf tournament winners.
  • Super High Roller Bowl (SHRB)—A $300,000 buy-in makes this a big money event with a multi-million dollar payday. The event starts on Sep. 26 and lasts for three days. The winner receives a SHRB ring, similar to the NFL’s Super Bowl.

A little too much hype?

PokerGO President Mori Eskandani is the man behind Poker After Dark, High Stakes Poker and the National Heads Up Poker Championship. Nobody has a better track record of success in broadcasting poker. Even so, his claims about the tour’s originality are a bit overblown:

“The sport of poker is hundreds of years old and until now, there has not been a globally recognized tour and ranking system that establishes and celebrates the most elite players across the globe, so we started something we hope will evolve and grow.”

The World Poker Tour and World Series of Poker both have their own Player of the Year systems. Meanwhile, the Global Poker Index ranks the world’s tournament players across a wide range of events, both on an ongoing and annual basis.

Eskandani no doubt feels the structure of the PokerGO tour sets itself apart from these competing ranking systems. From the average poker fan’s point of view, however, it no doubt sounds odd to claim that there has never before been “a globally recognized tour and ranking system.”

The sportification of poker

Poker entrepreneur Alex Dreyfus made a big splash with the Global Poker Index when it first launched. However, his later attempts to “sportify” poker using those rankings as a starting point didn’t go nearly as well. Eskandani’s plans seem like another attempt along the same lines. In the press release, Eskandani says:

“The PokerGO Tour™ events will include the world’s most challenging high stakes events in the world, bringing poker front and center in the world of sports in a way that has never been done before.”

It’s a frequent wish that poker would get the same attention as other professional sports, but the track record of such efforts is not good. The Global Poker Index itself is still going strong, but the Global Poker League and related attempts to transform poker are dormant.

Meanwhile, Dreyfus himself has moved on from poker, starting a successful cryptocurrency business. Eskandani remains a poker guy through and through.

His PokerGo ranking system may or may not be a game changer. Unlike the GPL, however, the PokerGO Tour can succeed without necessarily causing a paradigm shift. What matters is the quality of the events in the PokerGO Tour and how they are presented to the public. In this, Eskandani is the industry-acknowledged master.

- A former founder of Poker Industry Pro and Head of Content at PokerNews publisher iBus Media, Joss Wood is a graduate in English from the University of Birmingham. Joss also holds a master’s degree in Organisational Development from the University of Manchester. His career path has taken him from the British Army, through business and finance to seven years as a successful professional poker player.
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