The European Poker Tour is going global and at the same time, ceasing to exist altogether. PokerStars announced sweeping changes to its live poker offering on Wednesday that sees the EPT-experience expanding beyond European borders with a new name: PokerStars Live.
Live events under the PokerStars banner now fall into one of two categories; the PokerStars Championship and the PokerStars Festival. Championship events, which will look and feel much like the EPT events have for the past few years, will include up to 100 tournaments in cities like Monte-Carlo, Barcelona, Macau and Panama. The Main Event at each stop will be a €/$5,000 buy-in.
Festival events will be much smaller in size and will last up to a week and will culminate in a Main Event buy-in of between $1,000-$1,500. Only two stops are confirmed so far, one on each side of the Atlantic. London, England is one confirmed stop with the other set to make American players happy as PokerStars brings its live tournament experience back to American soil with a Festival event scheduled for Resorts Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey October 31 – November 6.
“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,” said Eric Hollreiser, PokerStars’ Director of Corporate Communications. “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 kicking off ahead of the Festival with plenty of tournaments on offer and big prizes.”
The initial schedule for PokerStars Festival New Jersey includes an $1,100 buy-in Main Event, $2,200 High Roller and a special Run It Up event featuring Jason Somerville and a number of former Survivor contestants. Along with Somerville, fellow Team PokerStars Pros Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein, Jason Mercier, Chris Moneymaker and Vanessa Selbst are also scheduled to be in Atlantic City.
While the New Jersey Festival is the first event under the PokerStars Live banner, the official kick off comes in January with PokerStars Championship Bahamas, formerly the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. That event runs January 6 – 14.
“We are always thinking of how to bring the best experience to players, through the variety of tournaments we sponsor, the ease of finding information, how we communicate to players and media, and the overall experience on and off the felt,” said Edgar Stuchly, PokerStars’ Director of Live Events. “The PokerStars Championship and PokerStars Festival events are an enhancement of the existing PokerStars sponsored live tours, helping to take our vision for live poker to a whole new level.”
PokerStars will offer extensive online qualifying options for both Championship and Festival events including the popular Spin-N-Go qualifiers that can get players into Championship level events for as little as €10.
The new tour also comes with a revamped Player of the Year system. Each Championship stop will have a standalone leaderboard that awards the winner a VIP package with accommodation and a Championship Main Event buy-in for the first Championship event the following year as well as entry into an invite-only $100,000 winner-take-all tournament.
The final EPT-branded event takes place in December in Prague.