PokerStars Aiming to Make PSPC Sequel ‘Bigger and Better’

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PokerStars is already busy handing out Platinum Passes for the 2020 PokerStars PokerStars Championship. (PokerStars photo/ Neil Stoddart)

320 Platinum Passes. $1 million added to first place. No rake. Those were some of the key components that made the 2019 PokerStars Players Championship the largest $25,000 buy-in event of all time. The event is coming back in 2020, this time in Barcelona, and it turns out the location is not all that will be different this time around as PokerStars attempts to top the success of the 2019 event.

When that inaugural event was announced, the online poker giant promised to award 300 Platinum Passes which included the $25,000 buy-in and $5,000 for travel and other expenses. They ended up handing out 320 Passes and the tournament ballooned to 1,039 players and a $26,455,500 prize pool. Eric Hollreiser, PokerStars Marketing Director, wants the sequel to outclass the original, but unlike 2019, there are no plans to award a set number of Platinum Passes for 2020.

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“We want to seed the prize pool with significant numbers of players, while also seeding excitement and storytelling throughout the year,” Hollreiser said. “I can’t tell you today whether that means there will be more or fewer total Platinum Passes than last year. I can tell you that we are aiming for PSPC 2020 to be bigger and better.”

Hollreiser also confirmed that another staple marketing element of the first PSCP won’t be back. PokerStars will not be adding the $1 million to the first-place prize for 2020. Hollreiser pointed to how the first PSPC engaged the existing poker community, inspired new players to try the game for the first time, and allowed the company to market poker through mainstream campaigns. Over the next year, the company plans on focusing their resources, financial and otherwise, toward making sure the word gets out about the event and the players playing in it via the Platinum Pass.

“We’ve now turned the PSPC stories into marketing content that is reaching new audiences through campaigns on TV and digital platforms. These expose new audiences to the poker dream,” Hollreiser said. “We initially launched our Dare to Dream TV campaign in Spain during Q2 and this month expanded the campaign to France and Germany (while creating new Dare to Dream ads for Spain). This campaign has shown promising results. PSPC 2020 aims to generate more of this inspirational storytelling that will likewise reach existing, lapsed and new audiences.”

Due to Spanish regulations, tournament organizers were forced to switch the buy-in from  US dollars to Euros and the €22,500 buy-in is approximately $25,000 once the exchange rate is factored in. The value of a Platinum Pass remains roughly $30,000 and continues to include money for hotel, travel and other expenses. Once again, PokerStars won’t be raking the event.

“Like this year, we will not be taking rake from PSPC and we will be taking the dealers’ fee from the prize pool,” Hollreiser said.

One of the more popular components of the lead up to the 2019 PSPC was the Moneymaker Tour, which gave players in various US cities the chance to win a Platinum Pass in an $86 buy-in tournament – a tip of the hat to the manner in which PokerStars Team Pro Chris Moneymaker famously qualified for the 2003 WSOP Main Event.

“Chris Moneymaker was the original inspiration and will remain a cornerstone of PSPC. And Chris is still relevant and loved by poker players around the world,” said Hollreiser. “I believe the Moneymaker Tour was successful independent of the Platinum Pass giveaways that we provided. We have not yet provided details, but you can count on the Moneymaker Tour being a part of our plans.”

While PokerStars does not yet have a large foothold of the regulated US online poker scene, the states where they do have a presence will have the chance to win Platinum Passes online. In 2019, PokerStarsNJ hosted an online Moneymaker Tour event. This time, New Jersey online poker players and Pennsylvania online poker players will be able to win Platinum Passes by clicking a few buttons from their home or mobile device.

Lost in the PSPC 2020 announcement was that the 2019 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, which has been a mainstay on the poker calendar since 2004 and hosted the inaugural PSPC, was the final one.

It’s no secret that after 15 successful years, the PCA [prior to last year’s PSPC] has been losing momentum and there’s been increasing player criticism of the location,” Hollreiser said. “As such, we will not be returning to Paradise Island in 2020. PokerStars and our players have had some great success at the Atlantis Resort & Casino in the Bahamas over a strong 13-year run, and we have very many fond memories of ringing in the New Year with our PCA. Our research, alongside player feedback, has shown, however, that it is time for a change to keep things fresh and give our players what they are asking for.”