Live Poker Tournament Doldrums About to End

This final week of the year is typically an odd one. People are generally happy, celebrating the holidays with friends and family, looking forward to what’s to come, but at the same time nothing gets done. Tons of people take off of work and those who are at work – aside from retail and restaurants, typically – don’t have all that much to do. Hell, my wife asked me for our Netflix and Comcast passwords so she could watch something at work while she wrapped presents. And no, she doesn’t work at the gift wrap counter at Macy’s. My week has been similar. As my colleague, Haley Hintze, said, this is “the usual dead-ass betwixt-the-holidays news week.” So, instead of talking about what’s going on right now, let’s take a brief look at what the live poker tournament landscape is going to look like at the beginning of 2017.

PokerStars Championship Bahamas

Poker players will have just enough time to get over their New Year’s hangovers to make the trip down to the Atlantis Resort in Nassau, Bahamas for the first-ever PokerStars Championship*. Formerly the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, the PokerStars Championship Bahamas will run from January 6th through January 14th and feature more than 90 tournaments.

The $5,000 Main Event will begin January 8th and go until the end of the Championship.

Why the name change? The PokerStars Championship was born out of the DNA of the European Poker Tour (EPT), which was operated by PokerStars. PokerStars felt it had the opportunity to expand the EPT, and since those expansion ideas took it out of Europe, it made no sense to continue calling it the European Poker Tour. Thus, this month’s EPT Prague was the last for the tour.

Now, the EPT will essentially be split into two poker tournament tours: the PokerStars Championship and the PokerStars Festival. The PokerStars Championship is the “main” tour, as a manner of speaking. Said PokerStars when the Championship was announced:

PokerStars Championship events will take place in major cities, organised by the most prestigious casinos across the globe, and are designed to deliver the best poker experience on the planet for players of all levels. A PokerStars Championship event will typically last 10-11 days and feature extensive schedules of up to 100 tournaments, including a €/$5,000 Main Event and a variety of cash games.

The PokerStars Festival will be similar, just on a smaller scale. Shorter durations, lower price points, and often lesser-known poker venues. A comparison to the World Series of Poker Circuit is not unfitting.

PokerStars Championship stops that have been made official so far include Panama, Macau, Monte Carlo, and Barcelona.

aussie_millions_pokerAussie Millions

I like to call the Aussie Millions the “forgotten Major” (and by “I like to call,” I mean I just made that up right now). It used to be the big kick-off live tournament event for the poker year, but it has been eclipsed by the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in recent years. Aussie Millions satellites are already underway at Crowne Melbourne, but the first real event does not begin until January 11th. Tournaments go the rest of the month.

The Aussie Millions Main Event is a $10,000 + $600 No-Limit Hold’em tournament, one of the last remaining $10,000 mains outside of the WSOP, spanning January 22nd through January 29th.

The Aussie Millions has been in existence since 1998, but it wasn’t until 2005 that it really started taking off. Prior to that year, the fields were typically in the low-hundreds for the Main Event, sometimes dipping into double-digits. In 2005, the middle of the poker boom, attendance jumped to 263 players, then 418 the following year. That number has been in the 600’s and 700’s ever since.

World Poker Tour

The World Poker Tour’s (WPT) “main” tour does not resume until mid-January with the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open. Beginning January 17th, the WPT Borgata Poker Open runs until February 3rd. The Main Event starts January 29th and is only $3,300 + $200 (I say “only” like I could afford that).

The WPT does have some smaller stops before that, though. WPT National Cambodia begins on January 6th and WPTDeepStacks Hollywood (no, I didn’t forget a space between “WPT” and DeepStacks – I don’t know why it’s done like that) gets going January 19th at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. WPT National Thailand also just concluded with Andres Korn emerging as the champ.

*It’s just a name, but am I the only one who is not thrilled with it? It seems awkward. If someone wins the Main Event at a tour stop, can you say they won the PokerStars Championship? Are they the PokerStars Championship Champion? That sounds like they won some big thing on, so then you have to say they won the PokerStars Championship [insert location] Main Event. Is there going to be a season-ending “championship?” Is it going to be called the “PokerStars Championship Championship,” making the winner the “PokerStars Championship Championship Champion?”


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