EPT Grand Final Main Event Buy-in Cut in Half
PokerStars and the European Poker Tour (EPT) made a surprising announcement this week, declaring that the buy-in for the season-ending EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo will be cut in half, from €10,600 to €5,300. The buy-in for the championship event is now the same as that of the other tour stops’ Main Events.
“We are putting all our energy into giving players the best poker experience they have ever had with Season 12’s four remaining stops,” said PokerStars’ Director of Live Events Edgar Stuchly in a press release. “Our goal is to give more players the chance to compete at an EPT, so we have also made some changes to buy-in levels, reducing the PCA Main Event from $10,000 to $5,300, and the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo Casino EPT Grand Final from €10,600 to €5,300.”
The reduction of the PCA Main Event buy-in was actually announced in August. The European Poker Tour also tripled the number of events at the always popular tour stop at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas.
Stuchly went on to explain the decision to slash the EPT Grand Final Main Event buy-in:
We’re making these changes to bring the Grand Final more in line with other stops such as Prague and Barcelona, which have created record-breaking fields over the last couple of years, by giving a large percentage of players what they’ve been asking for – the opportunity to play more tournaments within their bankroll, while also making the Main Event more accessible to a wider number of players around the world. The Grand Final schedule will continue to have a wide range of buy-ins, all the way up to the incredible €100,000 Super High Roller.
One would normally reason that such a severe drop in the buy-in would be made because player tournament has been sagging, but that does not seem to be the case. The change is obviously being made to boost registrations, but it doesn’t look like the EPT Grand Final has been noticeably struggling. Since Black Friday, the player counts for the EPT Grand Final Main Event have been 686, 665, 531, 650, and 564. There was a drop of nearly one hundred players from two years ago to last, but three years ago saw a drop in entries, too, followed by a recovery. So this significant reduction to the buy-in might just be more a strategy to have the season-ending event be a show-stopper, rather than a move of desperation.
The Malta stop of the European Poker Tour is currently finishing up. After this week, there will be four more stops on the EPT Season 12 calendar:
Prague – December 5th through December 16th
PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, Bahamas – January 6th through January 14th
Dublin – February 9th through February 20th
EPT Grand Final, Monaco – April 25th through May 6th
As the European Poker Tour is owned by PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker room is naturally hosting all sorts of satellites and promotions to allow people to qualify for the EPT tournaments on the cheap. The week of November 2nd through November 8th will be both EPT Prague and PCA promo week. For EPT Prague promo week, PokerStars will run “steps-style” satellites and a Frequent Player Point (FPP) “Mega Path” qualifier for the EPT Prague Main Event. These “steps-style” satellites generally consist of several small qualifying tournaments, often Sit-and-Go’s, starting with a minuscule buy-in at the lowest level. The winner (or perhaps top two) of one step moves on to the next. One or a few next-best finishers get to repeat the same step for free, and another couple players drop down to the previous step, but still don’t have to pay another buy-in. There are often five to six steps before somebody wins a full prize package.
For example (and this isn’t necessarily the real structure), if someone wins a Step 3 tourney, they would advance to Step 4. The second and third place finishers might stay on Step 3 for free, while the fourth and fifth place finishers might drop down to Step 2, again at no additional charge. The rest of the players drop out of the ladder entirely and have to buy-in again. Players can start at any step.
During PCA promo week, there is a special “PCA Puzzle” satellite in which players must earn “pieces” to a puzzle in order to qualify for an All-in Shootout that awards a $10,770 prize package to the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. It does not appear that PokerStars has posted details as to this PCA Puzzle promo on its website yet.
With both promo weeks, there are all sorts of regular qualifiers, as well.