Locations Announced for New PokerStars Championships

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On December 19, the European Poker Tour will close the doors on their stop in Prague, the Czech Republic, and with the end of the event will come the end of an era. Amaya Gaming, the owners of the EPT, have decided to end one of the most successful tournament tours in the existence of poker to “start fresh” with something new. Beginning in 2017 the “PokerStars Championships” will take place, with Amaya recently announcing the inaugural stops on that schedule.

The new PokerStars Championships will begin with the most likely candidate to roll over from the EPT, the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. Now called the PokerStars Championship Bahamas, the tournament schedule will be played from January 6-14 at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas and feature 92 tournaments crammed into the proceedings. The Main Event (January 8-14, $5000 buy in), and the High Roller (January 12-14, $25,000) and Super High Roller (January 6-8, $100,000) tournaments will be the featured tournaments on this roster of events.

There will be two “PokerStars Festival” dates before the next PokerStars Championship takes place. Up first will be the PokerStars Festival London at the Hippodrome Casino (January 22-29) and the PokerStars Festival Rozvadov at the King’s Casino in the Czech Republic from March 2-13. The “festival” schedules are looking to replace the former “minor” tours on the EPT circuit (the United Kingdom/Ireland Poker Tour was one of those “minor” tours under the EPT auspices).

After these two tournament runs, the PokerStars Championships will kick back in. In an odd bit of scheduling, the PokerStars Championships will head for Panama and the Solaris Resort and Casino from March 10-20. With the PokerStars Festival concluding in Rozvadov on March 13, it could be reasonably thought that the tournament circuit would want to keep the players in action near the Czech Republic, where the King’s Casino is located, rather than traipse them halfway around the world for the Panama event.

Macau will be the next stop for the PokerStars Championships, with the schedule covering the end of March and the beginning of April (March 30-April 9). On April 25, the PokerStars Championships will head for Monte Carlo, with its Main Event concluding on May 5. The final stop that has been scheduled is after the World Series of Poker as the PokerStars Championships heads for the Casino Barcelona in Spain from August 15-27.

The director of live events for PokerStars, Edgar Stuchly, seems ready to take the next step with the PokerStars Championships. “PokerStars has an incredibly rich live events heritage, having hosted more than 560 tournament series, attracted more than 800,000 entries and awarded more than $1.5 billion in prize money,” Stuchly noted. “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.”

Poker fans will note, however, that several popular stops have been either bumped from the schedule or details haven’t been worked out yet. Malta (and the Portomaso Casino) and Prague, which were the two most recent stops for the EPT, are not seen on the 2017 schedule. Another big question should be why London only receives a Festival stop rather than the full Championships treatment as London has routinely been one of the most popular stops on the EPT circuit. Then there are those locations that were left at the wayside by the EPT that the PokerStars Championships could arguably revive, such as Dublin, Vienna, Berlin and Sanremo. It is also leaving out the one location that could use a punch in the arm from PokerStars – New Jersey, where a tournament schedule recently operated by PokerStars at the Resorts Casino in Atlantic City was tepidly received.

It is questionable why those in charge at Amaya Gaming would take this step. There weren’t any perceived problems with the EPT but, by going with the general “PokerStars Championships” moniker, it doesn’t make it seem odd when the tour visits the Caribbean or North/South America. There is also the history that was built up by the EPT; what becomes of that history, the achievements by “serial qualifier” and former “November Niner” Pierre Neuville or the two-time EPT champion Vicky Coren-Mitchell (the only person on the EPT to have achieved that feat)? It seems odd to toss that all out the window and “start fresh,” even if the name change is more indicative of a blending of the online and live poker worlds.

Where will the impact be seen? It won’t be in the Bahamas in January because that stop is traditionally one of the largest poker tournaments in the world. Where it may become evident is in the Festival stops in London and Rozvadov and the “Championships” stop in Panama. After those events – and seeing if Amaya is listening to its customers and bringing back some of the old EPT stops – we might have a better idea of what to expect from the new PokerStars Championships and Festivals.

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Earl Burton

Hello Pika,

Yeah, that’s the general reaction I’ve been hearing myself. We won’t know what effect the changes will be like until they get to that stop in Panama, however. If people are willing to go there, then there probably won’t be much of a drop.

Thanks for reading!


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