PokerStars to Retire EPT Brand Name, Launch New ‘Festival’ Series

Global online-poker leader PokerStars has announced the pending retirement of the European Poker Tour [EPT] brand name as part of a sweeping makeover of the entire family of PokerStars-related live poker offerings.  The changes, which debut later this year but arrive in full in 2017, will create two separate live-poker tours, PokerStars Championship and PokerStars Festival.

The changes are designed to enhance PokerStars’ core brand recognition around the globe while seemingly borrowing from a successful blueprint employed by rival live tours such as the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour, both of which have launched successful satellite tours (WSOP Circuit; WPT DeepStacks, WPT National, etc.).

A PokerStars presser noted, by way of transition, the earlier limitations of the “European” Poker Tour’s name and reach.  As an example, the EPT has for years included the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in the Bahamas, despite the PCA being held far away from Europe. “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 Stars statement offered as explanation.

The bulk of what is known today as the EPT will be directly rebranded as the PokerStars Championship.  Here’s the core description for the series:

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 first PokerStars Championship event, the PokerStars Championship Bahamas, will kick off on January 6 until January 14 in the Bahamas, previously known as the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. Other confirmed PokerStars Championship stops are Barcelona, Monte-Carlo, Macau and Panama, with more stops to be announced in the coming months. The PokerStars Championship will feature a revamped Player of the Year competition, featuring a tournament leaderboard for each stop. The player who tops each individual leaderboard will win a VIP package, including accommodation and PokerStars Championship Main Event buy-in for the first PokerStars Championship the following year, plus entry into a special invitational tournament featuring $100,000 winner-takes-all first prize.

pokerstars-festivalJoining that will be the PokerStars Festival events, which will run for shorter periods (six or seven days) and at relatively lower price points.  The “Festival” venues and events are designed to bring the PokerStars brand to new and renewed markets.  Theoretically aimed at recreational players these “Festival” events will include the just-announced return of PokerStars as a live-event sponsor in the United States, at Atlantic City, New Jersey’s Resorts Casino AC.

Smaller Stars-connected tours such as the UKIPT and APPT are expected to have most of their future events rolled into the new Festival offering.

Here’s the top-line description for the new “PokerStars Festival” series:

PokerStars Festival events are shorter live events lasting 6-7 days with a fun, holiday feel and a variety of events, mainly tailored for recreational players. The events will feature a more concise schedule of tournaments, including a Main Event with a buy-in in the range of $1,000-$1,500. Confirmed PokerStars Festival stops so far are New Jersey and London, with more stops to be announced in the coming months.

PokerStars Releases Detailed New Jersey Schedule

As part of the new tour’s rollout, PokerStars has also released event details for the first PokerStars Festival stop, which begins at the end of this October.  Per PokerStars:

Kicking off the new live poker tours, the inaugural PokerStars Festival event debuts in New Jersey from October 29 until November 6. The PokerStars sponsored event will feature more than 50 tournaments with buy-ins ranging from $100 to $5,000 at Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

The Festival will also feature some exciting extras, headlined by a casino festival with blackjack, video poker, slots and roulette tournaments. For action away from the tables there will be a StarsFun skills zone, plus a RunItUp Day with Team PokerStars Pro and Twitch superstar Jason Somerville, and a Survivor “Immunity” Tournament featuring Tyson Apostol and “Boston Rob” Mariano.

The New Jersey PokerStars Festival highlights will be as follows:

  • November 1-5, 2016, $1,100 PokerStars Festival Main Event
  • October 30-31, 2016, $340 PokerStars Cup
  • November 4-5, 2016, $2,200 PokerStars Festival High Roller
  • November 4-6, 2016, $230 PokerStars Open

Team PokerStars Pros set to compete in the New Jersey PokerStars Festival include Jason Somerville, Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein, Jason Mercier, Chris Moneymaker and Vanessa Selbst.

More information on both series and the events therein can be found at PokerStars’ online home for the series, at PokerStarsLive.com.

About the upcoming New Jersey offerings, Eric Hollreiser, PokerStars’ Director of Corporate Communications, said this: “We are committed to growing the poker market in New Jersey and part of this strategy is to help make New Jersey the poker hub of America in November. We invite players from across the globe to pitch up in the Garden State for the best live poker experience available in the world, live and online, with the first ever NJCOOP [New Jersey Championship of Online Poker] kicking off ahead of the Festival with plenty of tournaments on offer and big prizes.”

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