Although the vast majority of casinos have reopened in the United States, there still is not much in the way of live poker to be had. And that makes sense, as a poker room is not really the best environment to be in if you want to avoid a potentially deadly virus. Outside of the U.S. is a slightly different story, as poker rooms are opening much fast because other countries are doing a significantly better job at controlling COVID-19 than the good, old U.S. of A. And now it appears that the first major live tournament is back on the calendar, as PokerStars has launched online satellites for the European Poker Tour Sochi stop.
Originally, EPT Sochi was slated for March, but that was right around when the pandemic shutdowns began and all live poker tournaments were eventually postponed. Now it is scheduled for October 2-11.
And since PokerStars – the operator of the European Poker Tour – has put satellites up on its site, it appears that the intention is to gather poker players from around the world at Casino Sochi.
Looking at the lobby, there are nine satellites currently registering for Tuesday with buy-ins ranging from $2.20 to $22. None are direct qualifiers to EPT Sochi. Some award seats to the next buy-in up, while some award seats into a $215 satellite, which itself guarantees at least one EPT Sochi prize package.
EPT Sochi is comprised of 25 events, though many of those are live satellites into the Main Event. Speaking of which, the Main Event begins on Tuesday, October 6 with Day 1A. The buy-in is Ᵽ175,000 ($2,467) and it comes with a guaranteed prize pool of Ᵽ 122,300,000 ($1,723,863).
There are three total starting flights for the Main Event; each allows a single re-entry. In all, the Main Event is a five-day tournament.
Russia has recorded 733,699 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the fourth highest total in the world. There is some doubt as to the validity of the figures the country makes public considering Russia’s leadership, but the numbers we see are the only numbers we have. Daily new confirmed cases are slowly coming down. New cases peaked in early May at around 11,000 per day and are now holding fairly steady at around 6,500.
Despite the appearance of being “open for business” based on satellites for EPT Sochi being up on PokerStars, Casino Sochi still has not reopened after closing on March 26. There is no indication when it might open its doors.
“We are working closely with the casino, following local regulation, and we will keep all players updated if there are any potential changes to the current situation,” PokerStars told Poker Industry PRO. “At this time it is still planned to go ahead.”
We will see.