Partouche Poker Tour Announces Closure Following Tournament Prize Pool Guarantee Flap

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Amid a brewing uprising from players participating in its Main Event over the prize pool, the owner of the Partouche Poker Tour announced this afternoon in Cannes, France that this year’s tournament would be the last of the organization.

According to the Winamax blog, PPT owner Patrick Partouche held a press conference at the Casino Palm Beach in Cannes where he announced the closure of the tour. “For forty years I have dedicated my life, my name, my family, to gaming, including poker, my passion,” Partouche said at the hastily called press conference. “And now I hear that what we do is not enough, is not honest. The Partouche Poker Tour bears my name, that of my family. I will not accept, my staff will not accept, that people can say ‘Partouche are thieves’, ‘Partouche are cheats’. As a result, this week you attended the last edition of the Partouche Poker Tour.”

The decision by Partouche to end the PPT comes on the heels of its fifth Main Event (concluding on Sunday), which drew players from around the world for an €8500 tournament. By the time the final numbers were in for the event, 580 players had entered that built a prize pool of €4.3 million, an impressive number in its own right. There was only one problem with that: the players had been led to believe that there was a guaranteed €5 million prize pool.

At this point, it depends on who you want to believe as to what happened. The PPT stated that there was no guaranteed prize pool and that the €4.3 million pool would be what was in play. Several websites (including the Partouche Casino and Spa, the host of the event), however, had billed the event with the €5 million guaranteed prize pool. In stories from the company following Sam Trickett’s win in the tournament last year, it even says, “See you next year for Season 5 of the Partouche Poker Tour, this time with a guaranteed prize pool of five million Euros!”

Players, once they had heard of the change, were naturally upset. Several professional players who were in the tournament took the time to capture screen shots of several web sites where the guarantee had been made. Players such as Mickey Peterson, Dominik Nitsche, Matt Glantz and Justin Bonomo (among others) also offered their opinions over Twitter and weren’t too kind in the apparent deception.

To further the controversy, it appears that many of the web pages that stated the €5 million guaranteed Main Event started to disappear from the internet, allegedly at the hands of the PPT. As stated previously, some players were able to capture screen shots of the guarantee or were able to retrieve cached pages through Google. For a potential next step (with the tournament still ongoing), Nitsche Tweeted, “VERY IMPORTANT! Everyone who cashes (in) the tourney should fill a complaint with the DGCCRF (the French regulatory agency for poker) as what Partouche is doing is definitely illegal.”

In his press conference, Partouche seemed to continue to burn bridges. Following his announcement of the closure of the tour, Partouche then launched on a diatribe on what he called “young players,” “who have not even made the final table (that) call us cheats and thieves.”

Partouche isn’t making it easy for what he states is the next stop for his efforts. According to the press conference, Partouche is involved in the International Stadiums Poker Tour and said in closing at the press conference that he would see players there “next year.” The ISPT, which has had some difficulties in getting started, has stated that their first event would be in May 2013 in Wembley Stadium in London, England, and has itself made promises of a prize pool that have fluctuated.

The end of the Partouche Poker Tour, which was able to draw significant fields throughout its history, is a difficult one for the French poker scene. Although the World Series of Poker Europe will still be contested in France and the World Poker Tour has its upcoming Grand Prix de Paris at the Aviation Club in Paris on the schedule, there would be a dearth of big dollar tournament poker in the country. As the final PPT Main Event plays out, the controversy may just be warming up and government action may become necessary.

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