PokerStars has been hyping the PokerStars Players NL Hold’em Championship (PSPC), a $25,000 buy-in live tournament, for what seems like forever. Everywhere you turn on the PokerStars website, you see information about Platinum Passes being awarded via online and live events. Aside from it taking place at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) in January 2019, though, we really didn’t know all that much about it. Finally, though, PokerStars has finalized most of the details.

PokerStars Had the Final Word, But Players Had a Say

In coming up with how things would run, PokerStars solicited player input. In August, it conducted a survey of Platinum Pass winners, players it believes will buy-in directly, and social media followers. The survey results were evaluated based on total votes and weighted averages (as social media submissions greatly outweighed the others) and then PokerStars/PSPC/PCA tournament heads were consulted. Finally, PokerStars LIVE staff and five players – Maria Konnikova, Daniel Dvoress, David Peters, Shaun Deeb and Dragos Trofimov – were brought in to work on a few extra details.

Danny McDonagh posted the conclusions on the PokerStars blog. As far as general structure is concerned, the closest vote had to do with the number of players per table. Using weighted averages, 55 percent preferred 8-handed over 9-handed and those who were going to buy-in directly mostly wanted the former. The “total,” though, favored 9-handed, so the PSPC will begin 9-handed and transition to 8-handed.

It seems that most of the rest of the basic structure questions were fairly cut and dry. Here is how things are going to look for the PSPC in January:

Starting Stack 60,000
Starting Blinds 100/200
Ante BB Yes
Action Clock From ITM
Players 9 handed start, moving to 8 handed
% of field paid 15%*
Min cash $31,900**
Optimal hours per day 8
No dinner break if 8 hours played

* plus rake savings redirected as additional prizes
** Additional players ITM due to rake savings redirection get $25,000

The rake savings refer to the fact that there will be no rake taken for the PSPC, so money that would otherwise be factored out of prize pool calculations will be used to pay more players.

Payout Structure May Have Been the Trickiest Detail

Interestingly – to me, at least – a lot of survey takers wanted a min-cash of $25,000, which is the buy-in for the tournament. Personally, I’d prefer to actually profit if I made the money. Direct buy-in players very much preferred a $37,500 min-cash, which is 1.5 times the buy-in, while the expert panel liked anywhere from $30,000 to $37,500. In the end, $31,900 was the min-cash number that was settled upon, but that could move up a bit, depending on the number of entrants.

They also decided to flatten the prize pool a bit at the top from what they had originally thought was a fair prize distribution because PokerStars will be adding $1 million to first place. Thus, the winner could “afford” to lose a bit of money from the general prize pool since he or she will be gaining an extra million, anyway.

The enter PCA schedule has been posted on the PokerStars LIVE website, but here are the key dates, as listed on the blog, included those of the PSPC:

Event start day – January 5th (we will be running a satellite for the Players’ Championship at 6pm)
Players Championship – January 6th to 10th
Super High Roller $100K – January 10th to 12th
PCA Main Event – January 11th to 16th
PCA National – January 9th and 10th

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