PokerStars Bringing Back European Poker Tour

Last year, PokerStars dismantled the European Poker Tour (EPT) and regional tours that it owned such as the Latin American Poker Tour and Asia Pacific Poker Tour, reorganizing them into the PokerStars Championship and PokerStars Festival live tournament series. It was clearly an effort to extend the PokerStars brand at the expense of poker tradition and was not received all that positively by the poker community. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that people were outraged – it is just a name, after all – but the EPT had been a favorite of poker players for years and it seemed silly to change things just for branding purposes. Well, it seems that PokerStars has learned its lesson and has decided to reverse course after a year, bringing the European Poker Tour back, along with the Latin American Poker Tour and the Asia Pacific Poker Tour.

Though the EPT was done away with almost certainly for PokerStars branding reasons (I mean, hell, the parent company of PokerStars, Amaya, changed its name to The Stars Group), PokerStars cited geography as the main reason, saying in a press release at the time, “With the European Poker Tour (EPT) outgrowing its European borders, PokerStars is making its biggest live events even bigger, by encompassing key PokerStars sponsored events from around the world and bringing players worldwide the much-loved EPT experience.”

The primary culprit in terms of the EPT extending outside of Europe proper was the ever-popular PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA), held at the beginning of the calendar year in the Bahamas. Clearly the Bahamas is not in Europe, but the PCA was part of the European Poker Tour, so it didn’t really make sense from a name/geography synergistic standpoint. As part of the rebranding, the PCA became PokerStars Championship Bahamas.

But really, who cared? Yeah, I guess once in a while might make fun of a Bahamas event being in the “European” Poker Tour, but whatever. It didn’t matter. It’s not like the World Poker Tour (WPT) was really that globe-spanning up until very recently. For a number of years, it was almost entirely based in the United States. Come to think of it, baseball’s World Series is only contested in North America, too. How horrible!

The signs were already there that PokerStars realized it made a New Coke mistake this summer when it changed the name of PokerStars Bahamas back to PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.

At the time, Eric Hollreiser, PokerStars Director of Corporate Communications, said of the PCA:

We’re reviewing our live events and incorporating player feedback to ensure we’re delivering the highest quality experience and exceeding player expectations whenever possible.

This feedback included suggestions that we restore the PCA name and improve the quality of that event to reflect the great heritage and unique experience that made PCA one of the most-anticipated poker events of the year. We’re restoring the name and reinvigorating the event to ensure it remains a premiere poker festival.

Along with bringing back the European Poker Tour, PokerStars is also launching the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC), a live, $25,000 buy-in event to debut at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in 2019 (I’ll stop at three uses of the word “PokerStars” – shit, four now – in one sentence, thanks). The idea is that there will be a year-long build-up to the big tournament, that it will be a thing for all PokerStars players, both online and live. It’s pretty vague, frankly, how this differs from any other live $25,000 tournament, but here’s what PokerStars says:

“….we want to make this a celebration of the game, bringing the poker world together in a one-of-a-kind live poker experience, presenting players of all skill levels the chance to win millions of dollars. Read that again, because we mean everyone. Whether you’re a poker rookie, fledgling amateur, established local pro or a bonafide superstar.”

One would presume that the way PokerStars is “presenting players of all skill levels the chance to win millions of dollars” is through satellites over the next year, but the poker room will also be giving out more than 300 “Platinum Passes” which are prize packages which include the $25,000 seat in the PSPC, accommodation at the Atlantis Hotel and Casino Resort in the Bahamas, and $2,000 cash for travel expenses. These Platinum Passes will be distributed at live tournaments as well as online via tournaments, cash games, and promos.

In addition to the $9 million in prize packages it is doling out, PokerStars will also be adding $1 million to the first-place prize of the PSPC.

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