ISPT’s First Day 1 Flights Flop; Promoter Promises New Partner
Last week the first batch of ISPT’s Day 1 flights, Day 1A, were scheduled on Partouche Poker, Lock Poker and Poker770. Partouche mustered 130 runners, putting 13 through to Day 2. Lock and Poker770 had to postpone their events due to lack of player interest. It’s so bad that the sites are even cancelling smaller buy-in satellite tournaments to the Day 1 flights.
The ISPT started out as this grand vision of Bernard and Laurent Tapie, the men who strung Full Tilt and its customers along for months after Black Friday. The initial idea was to hold a €30 million guaranteed tournament, to take place with 30,000 players playing simultaneously via laptop or tablet at Wembley Stadium in London. Almost everyone in the poker world laughed, especially other poker event organizers, who seemed more aware than the Tapies of the logistical challenges of such an endeavor.
In short order ISPT organizers postponed the timetable for the initial event and scaled back its scope by reducing the guarantee to €20 million. Then came a mini-scandal on the Partouche Poker Tour, with which ISPT co-founders Laurent Tapie and Prosper Masquelier were associated. The PPT reneged on a €5 million guarantee during a September 2012 event when the event only drew €4.3 million in buy-ins. Players were livid, but the PPT refused to make good on the guarantee. All mentions of a guarantee disappeared from the ISPT web site shortly thereafter.
Today the ISPT bills itself as the “World’s Largest Poker Tournament” with a €10 million “estimated prize pool”. Multiple “Day 1” flights are supposed to take place online over the course of the next three months, with Days 2 through 6 taking place on the pitch at Wembley Stadium in early June. Players who want to skip Day 1, which costs €300, can buy in directly on Day 2 at Wembley for €3,000 and receive 10 times as many starting chips as Day 1 starters. 10% of Day 1 starters will advance to Day 2 and will bring with them their exact stacks. 70% of Day 2 starters will receive prize money.
In short, the ISPT has become nothing more than a gimmicky live event with an online satellite feeder system.
Virtually everyone involved with the event has taken heat for it from the poker community. The latest to do so is Stephen McLean, a well-known Irish poker promoter and event organizer. He joined forces with ISPT to help recruit dealers and players back when the tournament still sported a €20 million guarantee, saying, “I knew the ISPT was going to be a massive success, and that I needed to be a part of the project in any way I could.”
Today, on an Irish poker forum, in response to repeated criticisms of the event, McLean said that the live portion of the event is “being run by pokerireland.ie” – McLean’s promotion company – “in partnership with another major organizer” that will be announced next week. He claimed that the new partner brings a degree of respectability that the ISPT has, to date, lacked.
That may be, but time is running out for ISPT to generate the thousands of Day 2 players it needs in order to come anywhere close to the “€10 million estimated prize pool” for the event. Qualifying 13 players at a time isn’t going to cut it, no matter how respectable the event’s new partners may be.