While they have yet to hold their first tournament, the International Stadiums Poker Tour is making moves outside of the playing arena with two announcements recently.
The ISPT is a grandiose ambition of the French financing company Groupe Bernard Tapie, who failed in their attempt at the purchase of the now-defunct Full Tilt Poker. Undaunted, GBT moved onward with its plans for the ISPT, announcing earlier this year that they will hold their first tournament at legendary Wembley Stadium in London from May 31 to June 6 of next year. Yesterday, GBT announced a very prestigious signing to lend credence to their plans.
The ISPT announced that three-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner – and two time $50,000 Poker Players’ Champion at the WSOP – Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi would be the official ambassador for the ISPT. Mizrachi let his followers on Twitter know about the deal, chirping, “I just want to announce I will be @ISPT_poker official ambassador. Will be one of the biggest tournaments ever held!”
Mizrachi is a logical choice for being the ambassador for pretty much anything poker nowadays. Along with his three WSOP bracelets and his status as the reigning titleholder of the $50K Poker Players’ Championship, Mizrachi’s success on the felt is one of excellence. He also holds two World Poker Tour titles in his short eight year career on the tournament tables; all of those championships (as well as his deep performance in other tournaments, such as his fifth place finish at the 2010 WSOP Championship Event) have earned him over $14 million in career earnings, good for seventh on the all-time money list.
The ISPT is offering something that, if achieved, would be revolutionary in the world of poker. The goal of the Wembley tournament is to draw something in the neighborhood of 30,000 players, an unheard of amount for poker tournaments outside of online games. To start, the players would participate online, working their way through online qualifications.
Following those qualifiers, the players would descend on Wembley, where live and online tables will be set up. The tournament then would play down to a final table, with the eventual champion taking down a first place prize of around €10 million (approximately $12,281,000 U. S. dollars) from an estimated €30 million prize pool.
In coordination with the announcement of Mizrachi’s signing, the ISPT has also announced one of the first live event qualifiers for the Wembley tournament. The Tangiers Casino in Morocco will be offering a Main Event (the buy-in hasn’t been announced) from August 22-26, with that Main Event handing out seats to the inaugural ISPT event. Other side tournaments will also enable players to step to the grounds of Wembley, although how many side events and their cost have yet to be announced.
The ISPT has been a point of discussion by many in the poker community, with some even wondering if it can be pulled off. It is a logical question to ask as the simple logistics of running such a large tournament could be nightmarish with so many players and the live/online issue. Weather in London at that time is also a question, although Wembley does has a retractable roof that would provide cover if the climes of London don’t agree with the proceedings.
Then there is the question of building the player pool. To reach their goal of 30,000 players, the ISPT either has to partner with an online site or create their own. This was allegedly one of the reasonings behind Groupe Bernard Tapie’s pursuit of Full Tilt Poker in that they would have a ready-made site that would be a funnel for ISPT players. When the sale collapsed in April of this year, GBT had to improvise on the spot and hasn’t yet made any deals with an online company nor (as rumored) started their own online poker operation.
With Mizrachi in their corner, though, Groupe Bernard Tapie has lent some credibility to their pursuit of this enviable task. The clock is ticking, however (there are 309 days until the Wembley event), and the poker world will be watching to see if GBT can actually pull off the International Stadiums Poker Tour – or any future events.