PokerStars to Re-brand EPT, Launch PokerStars Championship and PokerStars Festival

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The thirteenth season of the European Poker Tour (EPT) has started and fans better enjoy it while it lasts, as starting next year, the EPT, at least in name, will be gone. PokerStars announced this morning the creation of two new poker tours, the PokerStars Championship and the PokerStars Festival. The EPT is not so much being killed as it is being re-branded.

As PokerStars explained in a press release, the EPT has really outgrown the borders of Europe, so PokerStars wants to make “its biggest live events even bigger, by encompassing key PokerStars sponsored events from around the world and bringing players worldwide the much-loved EPT experience.”

It looks like PokerStars is following the formula of other competing tours and tournament series with one “major” circuit and one “minor” circuit, in a manner of speaking. We have seen this in practice with the World Series of Poker and its WSOP Circuit events as well as the World Poker Tour and its WPT National stops. In the case of PokerStars’ live tournaments, the “major” tour will be the PokerStars Championship, which essentially looks like what the European Poker tour will morph into.

Rather than reinventing the written wheel, we’ll just let PokerStars explain what the Championship is. Per the press release:

PokerStars Championship events will take place in major cities, organised by the most prestigious casinos across the globe, and are designed to deliver the best poker experience on the planet for players of all levels. A PokerStars Championship event will typically last 10-11 days and feature extensive schedules of up to 100 tournaments, including a €/$5,000 Main Event and a variety of cash games. The first PokerStars Championship event, the PokerStars Championship Bahamas, will kick off on January 6 until January 14 in the Bahamas, previously known as the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. Other confirmed PokerStars Championship stops are Barcelona, Monte-Carlo, Macau and Panama, with more stops to be announced in the coming months. The PokerStars Championship will feature a revamped Player of the Year competition, featuring a tournament leaderboard for each stop. The player who tops each individual leaderboard will win a VIP package, including accommodation and PokerStars Championship Main Event buy-in for the first PokerStars Championship the following year, plus entry into a special invitational tournament featuring $100,000 winner-takes-all first prize. More information on PokerStars Championships can be found here:

The PokerStars Festival consists of shorter tour stops typically lasting about a week. The buy-ins are purposely kept lower than on the PokerStars Championship, making the Festival geared more towards recreational players. Festival Main Events will run $1,000 to $1,500.

Kicking off the PokerStars Festival will be the first PokerStars tournament in on U.S. soil, at Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Running October 29th through November 6th, it will have more than 50 tournaments with buy-ins ranging from $100 to $5,000. Interestingly, there will also be a “casino festival” with slots, video poker, roulette, and blackjack tournaments. PokerStars highlighted a few of the scheduled tournaments at the New Jersey PokerStars Festival:

•    November 1-5, 2016, $1,100 PokerStars Festival Main Event
•    October 30-31, 2016, $340 PokerStars Cup
•    November 4-5, 2016, $2,200 PokerStars Festival High Roller
•    November 4-6, 2016, $230 PokerStars Open

“We are committed to growing the poker market in New Jersey and part of this strategy is to help make New Jersey the poker hub of America in November,” said PokerStars’ Director of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser. “We invite players from across the globe to pitch up in the Garden State for the best live poker experience available in the world, live and online, with the first ever NJCOOP kicking off ahead of the Festival with plenty of tournaments on offer and big prizes.”

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