Thu, Aug 10, 8:55am by Poker Guru
I have played poker in many major tournaments around the world: WSOP, WPT, EPT, APT and APPT, to name a few of the biggest names.
EPT and APPT were both sponsored/owned by Pokerstars but changed names to Pokerstars Live earlier this year which made totally sense. For a long time, it seemed that Pokerstars wanted to appear to be just a sponsor of these poker tours (and others) but the whole poker world knew Pokerstars owned them.
Now they have rebranded all the different poker tours to Pokerstars Live. Their biggest tournaments are called Pokerstars Championship and their smaller tournaments are called Pokerstars Festival.
They have had a rough start though. Pokerstars mysteriously decided to have a big Pokerstars Championship event in Sochi, their first major tournament in Russia, at the end of May, overlapping the start of WSOP in Las Vegas. The result should not have come as a surprise to anyone: very few international players and even a big overlay! Rumours say that people were fired over this mistake.
Partypoker ran a major event, Partypoker Million, in Sochi earlier this year and it was a huge success so it is not about the location. In fact, Partypoker is going to run another big event in Sochi in just a few weeks.
Why did players prefer to play in WSOP in Las Vegas than at the new Pokerstars event in Sochi? For the poker pros who actually live in Las Vegas or California it is easy to understand but how about the poker pros from Western Europe or Scandinavia? Sochi is in Europe, after all. And Pokerstars events are known to be well organised, or at least they were when they were known as EPT.
I think the answer is the brand strength of WSOP. WSOP has been around since the 70s and is by far the strongest poker tournament brand. Pokerstars cannot compete with that and as much as I respect and understand their decision to rename their tours they have lost the brand strength of EPT.
EPT started in 2004 and came to be the second biggest poker tour in the world in terms of prize pools. Now, with the EPT brand and structure gone, it is unclear who is the number two in the poker tournament world.
Partypoker Million wants to be a contender and WPT is still around. BSOP in Brazil has huge player numbers even though the buy-ins and prize pools are smaller than in North America or Europe. And how about Aussie Millions? It is not a tour but it is definitely a prestigious tournament which started in the late 90s. Or the Master Classics of Poker in Amsterdam which started in 1992.
Personally, I would rank World Poker Tour (WPT) as the world’s number two poker tour nowadays. It is not as big as it used to be during the poker boom but if I could win one poker tournament outside of WSOP I would want to win the Five Diamond World Poker Classic at Bellagio in December.
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