January 2015 Live Tournament Preview
We’re smack dab in the middle of the holiday doldrums in the poker world, the time of year where everything stops and there is almost nothing going on. In “real life,” this is usually great; lots of us get time off from work, the kids get a break from school (well, that’s not really that great for us parents), and we get to relax with friends and family. In poker, it can be plain boring. What better time, then, to look ahead at what is coming up in land of live tournament poker in January, once things start up again.
The New Year kicks off with a bang on the European Poker Tour (EPT) with the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA), held at the crazy cool Atlantis in the Bahamas. Running January 6th through January 14th, it is always the biggest poker festival of the year outside of Las Vegas. The PCA started in 2004 as a World Poker Tour (WPT) event and was also one of the first to really target online players. It quickly became the top non-WSOP event at which online players congregated but has now simply become one of the most popular tour stops of the year, period.
There are 30 events at the 2015 PCA not counting super satellites, including the $10,300 No-Limit Hold’em Main Event. The rest of the tournaments are a mix of all sorts of game types such as Crazy Pineapple, HORSE, and the new “Double Bubble” format. In that one, there are two money bubbles. The top 50 percent of the field will win back their buy-in and then the top eight percent (give or take) will win a piece of the remaining prize pool.
The European Poker Tour moves across the Atlantic later in January with EPT Deauville, which runs from January 28th through February 7th. The Casino Barriere at the Deauville International Centre will serve as host for this tour stop and its nearly four dozen tournaments. The €5,300 Main Event begins on February 1st with the first of two starting days.
There is only one World Poker Tour event in January, the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open at the crown jewel casino in Atlantic City. And while the Borgata is certainly a fantastic casino, the bar is not set very high for an Atlantic City that experienced an even more depressing year than usual. The Borgata is one of just eight casinos remaining in Atlantic City after the Atlantic Club, Trump Plaza, Showboat, and Revel all closed in 2014. The Trump Taj Mahal almost did, as well, but has been saved by a recent cash injection by investor Carl Icahn.
Okay, back to the Winter Poker Open. It will run during the last week of the month, from January 25th through January 30th. There will be two starting days for the $3,500 tournament during which players can re-enter an unlimited number of times during the registration period. The prize pool has been guaranteed to be at least $3 million. The guarantee was easily eclipsed last year, as 1,229 players registered, creating a prize pool of nearly $4 million. Anthony Merulla took the title and the $842,379 first prize.
Though the traditional World Series of Poker doesn’t start until the end of May, the WSOP Circuit picks up again in January. From January 8th through January 19th, the Choctaw Casino Resort will welcome the tour to Durant, Oklahoma. Located near the southern border of the state, the casino is about an hour and a half drive up I-75 from Dallas, Texas. As is the usual case with WSOPC events, there will be a dozen tournaments that will award points to determine the venue champion as well as the overall points leaders for the entire season. The Main Event for Choctaw Durant is a two starting flight affair beginning January 16th.
After Choctaw is over, players will have enough time to drive east for the WSOP Circuit – Horseshoe Tunica in Mississippi. Same setup here: twelve events and a $1,675 Main Event. The two starting flights will be January 30th and January 31st and players may re-enter once if they wish for a maximum of two total entries. The second entry may be in either flight, so players may re-enter the same flight in which they busted out if registration is still open.
And there you have it – a round-up of some of the major events coming to casinos in January. Of course, your local casino will likely have daily and weekly tournaments running all the time, so the holiday season probably isn’t quite THAT barren.