For those of us old enough to remember the original Dallas television show, we remember one season in particular. That season revolved around Pamela Ewing (played by actress Victoria Principal) after the death of her beloved husband Bobby Ewing (Patrick Duffy). In real life, Duffy had refused to sign a new contract with the show and was written out. But a year later, Duffy signed a contract and was ready to come back. The problem for writers of the show was how to do it.
In the end, they wrote the now-famous “shower scene” in which Pamela wakes up from an evening’s slumber and hears the shower running. She walks into the bathroom, up to the shower door and yanks it open. Turning around, Bobby is there and ALIVE, taking a shower like nothing has happened and saying, “Good morning!” The writers were telling the viewers that the entirety of the previous season had been a dream in Pamela’s mind.
PokerStars seems to be attempting to pull off this same trick with some recent announcements regarding their live tours.
It was revealed on Friday that, instead of continuing forward under the “PokerStars Championships” and “PokerStars Festivals” monikers, the live tours under the PokerStars banner would revert to their titles of the previous years. The 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure had already embraced that change (in 2017, it was known as the PokerStars Championship Bahamas), but now the rest of the PokerStars offerings are heading “back to the future.” Effective immediately, the European Poker Tour (EPT) is back in operation, as are the smaller regional tours such as the Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT) and the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT).
In making these moves, the honchos at PokerStars and The Stars Group are basically Pamela Ewing looking into that shower and saying, “We made a mistake.” To rebrand their efforts and separate them from the heyday of the Scheinberg Family’s ownership, Amaya Gaming (now known as The Stars Group) thought that naming the tours after their flagship brand was the way to go. They quickly found out, through abysmal attendance at many of their PokerStars Championship and Festival events, that they were damaging their brand rather than enhancing it.
What is perhaps more significant with the lack of success of the PokerStars Championships was player perception. Many top pros, dissatisfied with the way that the then-Amaya Gaming was treating the customers (players), decided to vote with their wallets and not take part in their tournaments. The Stars Group is looking to change that as well with the announcement of a new tournament along with the reversion back to the EPT fold.
While announcing the return of the EPT and its kin, PokerStars also announced a brand-new tournament in which it will not only offer $9 million of its own money but also hope to bridge the span between the online and live poker worlds. The Players’ No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC, for PokerStars Players’ Championship) will be a $25,000 buy in tournament that will be held the week prior to the 2019 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. The Stars Group is holding nothing back in trying to reclaim those players that had previously walked away.
Over the span of 2018, 300 “Platinum Passes” will be handed out to players. These free tickets include the $25,000 buy in to the tournament, six nights accommodations at the Atlantis Resort Nassau (the longtime host of the PCA), $2000 for travel expenses and other goodies. The “Platinum Passes” will be earned by the players, though, in winning major tournaments online at PokerStars.
For those that don’t win a package, they will be able to participate also by simply ponying up the $25K buy in, for which they won’t have to pay the juice. Besides giving away 300 seats into the tournament, PokerStars is going to seed the tournament further with another $1 million in cash. The tournament, before a single participant has been determined, is worth $8.5 million ($7.5 million in seats given away plus $1 million from PokerStars directly); you can guarantee that the top poker professionals are going to want to get into this event despite its hefty price tag.
Will the changes help the PokerStars brand? Some would say that, by admitting they made a mistake with some of their past acts, that PokerStars is on the way to improvement. It will be something that will take some time, however, as they reset their product, wake up from their Pamela Ewing “dream” and try to take on new challengers that have raised their heads.