For years, professional poker players have become accustomed to traveling the globe to participate in the world’s largest live tournaments, like the European Poker Tour (EPT). PokerStars is hoping that same level of dedication will remain intact – if not expand – as the online poker operator prepares to rebrand its live events scheduled with PokerStars Championships and PokerStars Festivals.
The rebranding efforts won’t go live until 2017, but will have a drastic effect on the universally recognized titles (and abbreviations) currently associated with some of the biggest PokerStars-sponsored events.
For example, the EPT is currently wrapping up its leg in Barcelona, Spain before heading to Malta in October, and then finishing out the year in Prague this December. But once the EPT Prague pays it’s eventual Main Event winner, that will mark the end of an era, as the European Poker Tour name will be retired.
Begining in 2017, the online poker giant will host each former EPT event as a “PokerStars Championship” event. Instead of having tours that span a specific region, the competitions will take place all over the world, starting with January’s PokerStars Championship Bahamas, formerly known among the live tournament community as the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.
So far, the Amaya-owned poker operator has confirmed five PokerStars Championship events:
PokerStars Championship Bahamas – January 6-14, 2017
PokerStars Championship Panama – March 10-20, 2017
PokerStars Championship Macau – March 30-April 9, 2017
PokerStars Championship Barcelona – TBA
PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo – TBA
The sponsor iterated that more locations will be announced for the live global tournament tour in the coming months. You can get more information on PokerStars Championships here.
PokerStars Championships vs Festivals
PokerStars Championship events will tour the world, and will encompass the brand’s largest live tournaments – specifically those that last 10-11 days, feature a €/$5,000 Main Event and consist of up to 100 events, plus a variety of sideline cash games.
PokerStars Festivals will include the smaller variety of live tournaments, lasting an average of 6-7 days and featuring less expensive buy-ins, including Main Events priced at €/$1,000 to €/$1,500. PokerStars’ Head of Blogging, Brad Willis, described them as being “more like a poker holiday with a wide variety of events meant for recreational players.”
According to the official PokerStars Festival web page, all events classified as such will be hosted in popular vacation destinations and/or landmark casinos. There are currently just two on the schedule, including the only rebranded campaign to be hosted before 2016 is out.
PokerStars Festival New Jersey – October 29-November 6
PokerStars Festival London – January 2017 (exact date TBA)
The company’s Director of Live Events, Edgar Stuchly, explained the differences between the two thusly. “The PokerStars Championship will include top-tier events that will visit the most exciting and prestigious destinations worldwide, similar to the much-loved European Poker Tour, while the PokerStars Festival events have a more regional feel, positioned as an action-packed poker vacation.”
Changes to Player Of The Year
Along with the rebranding of live tournaments comes alterations to the PokerStars Play of the Year competition.
Starting in 2017, PoY leaderboards will be held separately – one for each PokerStars Championship event – with each stop on the tour awarding that event’s PoY leader with a VIP prize package to an upcoming PokerStars Championship event (including buy-in and accommodations), plus entry to an exclusive invitational tournament where the winner collects the entire $100k prize.