For the last six years American poker players have watched as PokerStars-branded live events took place in countries around the world other than their own. Not since Black Friday, when the North American Poker Tour was in the midst of an event at Mohegan Sun, has PokerStars held a live event on U.S. soil.
That all changes beginning Sunday.
The PokerStars Festival New Jersey is the first official event under the new global PokerStars Live banner and runs for nine days at the Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. With 40 events on the schedule, and the conclusion of the first ever PokerStars New Jersey Championship of Online Poker, you might think PokerStars Team Pro Chris Moneymaker was excited to get the cards in the air.
You’d be wrong.
“The foosball and corn hole and all that stuff. Stars is really focused on this StarsFun thing, so there’s gonna be ping pong tables, foosball tables, corn hole, a lot of side stuff. I’m just a big kid so I like doing all that stuff,” said Moneymaker, who recently finished runner-up in an NJCOOP event.
To be fair, the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event champion is also looking forward to the poker.
“As far as the festival goes, the first day – which I might miss, but it would be exciting for me if I could play, but I may miss it because the NJCOOP Main Event is on Sunday – they have a $600 Pot Limit Omaha Hi-Lo tournament which I would like to play, but I probably won’t get to,” said Moneymaker. “I’m looking forward to anything with four cards and there’s (also) a $5K Eight Max that will be interesting depending on the field. If i have to go sit down and just play with Jason Mercier, Daniel Negreanu, Vanessa Selbst, myself and Jason Somerville, I’ll probably pass on that, but if it gets 40 people, I’ll jump in.”
The Main Event is an $1,100 buy-in event scheduled to run November 1-5, with two-starting days. Players are able to qualify online through PokerStarsNJ.com or a number of live qualifiers in the days leading up to the Main Event.
“After the Main Event, I’m looking forward to playing the Run It Up events, Jason Somerville’s mixed game events,” said Moneymaker. Run It Up Day is Saturday, November 5 and consists of two live events and other events built around Somerville’s popular live stream.
It’s been six years since Black Friday and the Festival will be the first taste of PokerStars Live for an entire generation of online poker players that haven’t experienced one before. Moneymaker things they’re in for a very different experience than anything else they’ve seen or done.
“PokerStars just does things different. You go to a lot of tournaments and you play and that’s it. If you’ve ever played in basically any tournament here in the U.S., you show up, you play poker, you go home. That’s really what you’ve got,” said Moneymaker. “But when you come to a PokerStars event, the first night there’s a reception/cocktail party, they have the StarsFun which is going to have a room set up to where people can mingle and have fun. They’re gonna have live streams. They’re going to have Q&As with us. There’s other activities going other than just sitting down and playing poker.”
The return of PokerStars to the U.S. was a big deal when it was announced and the live event is another positive step for the company that was the largest U.S-facing online poker site on Black Friday. Moneymaker is optimistic that while all of this seems like a big deal now, there’s still so much more potential should other states get on board with regulated online poker.
“It’s obviously a great first step. We’ve got a long way to go. Just the fact that I’m able to play in the U.S., I don’t have to get a passport and go out of the country and all that madness. I can actually come here and stay within the borders and play,” said Moneymaker. “It’s a phenomenal thing. But we’re a long way from being where we need to be. We’re in one state right now, hopefully we’ll be in more next year but it’s a good first step.”