At the start of 2019, PokerStars presented a tournament that, to be brutally honest, the poker industry wasn’t sure would be a success. The PokerStars Players’ Championship actually turned out to be a roaring success, so much so that it will return in 2020. In announcing the return of the PSPC, however, PokerStars also stated that there would be a new location for the event.
Goodbye Bahamas, Hello Barcelona
The 2020 PSPC will be contested in August of next year, quite a departure from the contest at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure earlier in 2019. The new location will be the European Poker Tour stop at the Casino Barcelona from August 20-24. No reason was given for the change in locale, but the additional time – it would have been tough for PokerStars to fully promote the 2020 PSPC if it were held again in January 2020 – will give PokerStars plenty of time to make it even bigger than the inaugural tournament.
“The inaugural PSPC was an amazing success, and featured hundreds of Platinum Pass winners who dared to dream of playing in an exclusive high-roller event,” Severin Rasset, PokerStars’ Managing Director & Commercial Officer, Poker, stated during the announcement of next year’s event. “The PSPC demonstrates our commitment to cultivating and growing the game, not only by creating opportunities for poker fans of all levels to win life-changing sums of money, but also by showcasing poker and the entertainment it provides.”
One of those that were able to make their name with the “Platinum Pass” was the inaugural champion Ramon Colillas. Colillas was the recipient of one of the 320 Platinum Passes that were handed out and he made the most of it, winning the first PSPC title and the $5 million payday that went with it. “The PSPC was an incredible experience for me,” said Colillas, who is now a PokerStars Ambassador. “From the lead-up to the tournament to the event itself, and now wearing the PokerStars patch, it has been a dream come true. I’m so happy it’s back again and I get to be a part of an event that could change someone’s life. Although, I am definitely going to attempt a back-to-back!”
Why is the PSPC So Successful?
What made the inaugural tournament highly successful was PokerStars’ usage of the “Platinum Passes.” These awards – which included the buy-in to the PSPC and travel and hotel expenses for the player and a guest – were given away to over 300 players, ensuring that there would be a sizeable crowd even if nobody else showed up. Plenty of people (AKA professional poker players) took notice of the tournament, its tie in with PokerStars and the location – who wouldn’t want to be in the Bahamas in January? – and the stage was set for a big tournament.
In the end, it turned out to be the biggest $25,000 tournament of all time, setting a record that should be difficult to break (unless it is the 2020 version)! 1039 players would eventually settle into a seat in the PSPC, building an astounding $26.4 million-plus prize pool. PokerStars even got into the act, putting an extra million dollars up for the eventual champion, and Colillas was the benefactor as he earned $5.1 million.
The move of the PSPC to Barcelona shouldn’t affect the crowds come next August, either. The EPT Barcelona is already one of the most popular stops on the circuit, as reflected by the largest ever EPT Main Event this year at the Casino Barcelona (1988 entries). Adding the largest $25K tournament in the game shouldn’t be too much of a taxation of the Casino Barcelona’s resources.
While numbers haven’t been handed out, PokerStars is stating that they will be handing out more Platinum Passes this time around than they did in 2018, so it is possible that the 2020 PokerStars Players’ Championship will be monstrous. Passes are currently being awarded at the ongoing EPT Barcelona stop running right now and there will be more to come in the year-long runup to the 2020 event.