Familiar structure

The PokerStars Winter Series is back this month, offering $50 million in guaranteed prize pools across 291 tournaments. Cue the “unwrapping presents” cutesy phrase, as the festivities get going on Christmas Day, December 25, and run through January 12.

As is the case for many PokerStars tournament series, the Winter Series has a three-tier buy-in structure: low, medium, and high. That would imply 97 events with three tourneys each, but not every price point is offered for every event, so there are actually 123 events. Regardless, players of every wallet size will have something, as buy-ins range from $2.20 to $10,300. Even I could handle $2.20. In fact, sign me up for two of them (or don’t, since I live in the United States, land of the free, and can’t play on PokerStars).

No surprises with the tournament types, either. Most are No-Limit Hold’em, but there is plenty of Omaha, H.O.R.S.E., and Stud as well as all sorts of game varieties like turbo, knockout, Zoom (boy, that rings differently nowadays), and more.

While not every event is split into three price levels, the Main Event is. All three will be held on January 9:

Low – $55 buy-in, $1 million guaranteed prize pool
Medium – $530 buy-in, $1.5 million guaranteed prize pool
High – $10,300 buy-in, $2 million guaranteed prize pool

Also that day is the Pot-Limit Omaha Main Event, a type of “main event” we are seeing more and more of these days, with a $215 buy-in and a $250,000 guarantee.

Special events

And the second day of the year, January 2 (I suppose that’s redundant), PokerStars is hosting a special Sunday Million during the Winter Series. Dubbed the “Sunday Two Million,” the guaranteed prize pool is, as one might infer, $2 million instead of the usual $1 million. The buy-in is also approximately doubled: up to $215 from the usual $109. There are plenty of satellites to try to qualify for the Sunday Two Million on the cheap, as well as special $4 and $22 Spin & Go’s that offer tickets as a prize.

Interestingly, players don’t even have to wait until Christmas to start playing in the Winter Series. PokerStars currently has a couple Phase tournaments running, with buy-ins of $55 and $109. The former has a $750,000 guarantee and the latter a $1.25 million guarantee.

Players can enter a Phase 1 tournament as many times as they would like until they finish with chips in hand. It’s basically a starting flight like you would see in bigger live tournaments, just with a different name. Phase 1 lasts approximately three hours. Stacks carry over to Phase 2.

Phase 2 of the $55 tournament is on December 27. It breaks with 27 players remaining and finishes the next day. Phase 2 of the $109 tournament is on January 10 and pauses with 36 players remaining. It, too, finishes up the following day.

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