2018 partypoker MILLIONS Online Promises $20 Million Guarantee. That’s Bold.
Before the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed in the United States in 2006, partypoker was the largest online poker room in the world. It is still one of the biggest, but relative to the current leader, PokerStars, it is tiny. That isn’t stopping partypoker, though, from embarking on one of the most ambitious tournament efforts I have ever seen, the 2018 MILLIONS Online. I’m honestly a bit skeptical that this will work, but even if it doesn’t I have to give a ton of credit to partypoker and am excited to see how this all pans out.
MILLIONS Online is an offshoot of the partypoker MILLIONS live tournament series that kicked off earlier this year. While those events don’t get the attention that World Series of Poker, WPT, or even PokerStars Championship (soon to be European Poker Tour again) tournaments do, they have been quite well received by players. As partypoker is an online poker room first and foremost, it only made sense to create an online version of MILLIONS (and yes, I also am a little annoyed that it is in all caps).
The first partypoker MILLIONS Online was held the first week of this month. The $5,300 buy-in tournament had a $5 million guaranteed prize pool and at least $1 million guaranteed for the winner. There were three starting flights, with the third using a turbo format and taking place on the same day that Day 2 started. The final table was scheduled for the next day.
This inaugural partypoker MILLIONS Online drew 1,027 registrants, allowing it to just eclipse the guarantee and generate a prize pool of $5.135 million. Jon Van Vleet won the event, cashing in for $1.027 million.
And that was all wonderful. Partypoker MILLIONS Online was a resounding success. But what I want to talk about is partypoker’s plans for NEXT year. Already, partypoker has announced that the MILLIONS Online tournament, scheduled for the first four days of December 2018, will have a $20 million guaranteed prize pool.
Since this is online, but MILLIONS began with a live tournament series, partypoker wants to include live players, even if they don’t normally play on the website. To that end, the first- through tenth-place finishers in each live partypoker MILLIONS Main Event will be awarded a $5,300 seat in the partypoker MILLIONS Online tourney next year. Those seats are being added by partypoker, not taken out of players’ prize winnings.
There will also be a MILLIONS Online Leaderboard which will start February 5th. We’re not sure exactly what is involved with the leaderboard, regarding whether it will track all tournament finishes on partypoker or just certain MILLIONS-related ones, but in any case, the top ten players on the leaderboard each week will win a $5,300 MILLIONS online seat. Repeat winners will receive their additional $5,300 prizes in the form of tournament dollars. There will also be “low” and “mid” leaderboards which won’t award $5,300 seats, but rather $530, $109, and $22 satellite tickets for the top 20 finishers on each.
In a corporate blog post, partypoker Managing Director Tom Waters said of this high-reaching event, “Running the first MILLIONS Online this year was an exciting time for us, bringing the concept of our live tour online. The feedback we had from our players was overwhelming, so what better way to say thank you than to run it again but this time making the guarantee a whopping $20,000,000.”
John Duthie, President of partypoker LIVE, also commented, “I love the concept of a MILLIONS leg on partypoker, it gives us the opportunity to bring together our MILLIONS players from all over the world at the end of the year to compete for an unprecedented prizepool. I was a little nervous about trying this concept out, but players supported us this time so we should return the favour and go for a record breaking online prizepool in 2018.”
I don’t blame him for being nervous the first time around and with $20 million guaranteed, he might find himself getting even more jittery. As mentioned, I am somewhat skeptical that partypoker can pull this off without any overlay, but I love the chutzpah.
Doing some quick, dirty math, partypoker will need the 2018 MILLIONS Online to draw 4,000 players to reach the $20 million guarantee. That’s a massive online tournament. In reality, though, there will need to be significantly more players to avoid overlay. The poker room is awarding ten seats at each MILLIONS live Main Event, of which there are six, so that’s 60 free seats right there.
Then there are the leaderboard prizes. I just did a quick calendar check and came up with 44 weeks of prizes (there’s a chance I’m off by one or two weeks on either side, but this will suffice). That’s ten more seats each week for a total of 440. And while there will be people winning more than one seat, they are still receiving $5,300 in tournament dollars, so that’s still money that partypoker is doling out.
Thus, we’re looking at 500 seats (or their monetary equivalent) that partypoker will be awarding for free throughout the year, meaning that it will need 4,500 players to register to break even on the guarantee. This month’s MILLIONS online drew less than a quarter of that number. Now, partypoker will have a year to build up the hype and for players to play in satellites and what-not, so 4,500 might be an achievable number, but it will still be a steep climb.
For comparison, PokerStars set all sorts of records with its Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) this year. PokerStars is magnitudes bigger than partypoker. The $10,300 SCOOP High Main Event drew 693 entrants and had a prize pool of a bit less than $7 million. But that’s twice the buy-in of the partypoker MILLIONS Online, so naturally it would have fewer people. The “mid” Main Event had a buy-in of $1,050, much lower than partypoker’s $5,300. It attracted 5,033 entrants, which is more than what partypoker will need to avoid an overlay. But again, the buy-in was a fifth of what it will be for the MILLIONS and it was hosted by the world’s largest online poker room.
It looks like it will be a giant challenge for partypoker to meet that $20 million guarantee, but again, it will be running satellites all year, so hopefully it has made accurate projections and management knows that the numbers will be reached. Either way, the partypoker MILLIONS Online in 2018 stands to be one hell of an event.