The poker world has seen plenty of changes over the last year. Live poker is now returning after a major online poker boom and partypoker has worked to offer some unique options for both fans of live and online play.
The operator’s live-online hybrid model launched in February with the Grand Prix UK at Dusk Till Dawn casino. These types of series offer plenty of action online mixed with some nice live play as well.
The festivals also offer both live and online qualifiers for championship events. So far, partypoker seems to be finding some success with the unique format.
“With the way we’ve seen the world change across the last two years, we felt that was the right time to give players the perfect mix of both the online and live felts,” head of live events Dan Rose told PokerScout. “By running online events, followed by a live schedule, players can have the flexibility to play in the right format that suits them.”
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Players pleased with partypoker efforts
After that first series, the company also launched the partypoker Championship brand. That saw a Malta hybrid in March/April and partypoker Championship UK in April/May. Party also sponsored this year’s Irish Open.
The hybrid concept carried over to these series as well with online-only events before finishing at the live venue. So far, Rose says the model has received high marks from players.
“The response from players has been overwhelmingly positive,” he says. “We are offering them the chance to suit events around their schedule, as opposed to the other way around.”
The operator has worked to make sure players know what kind of event they are getting into. There has been some need to educate players about how the hybrid series work. The goal is to avoid player confusion in the process.
“The only challenges have been ensuring players fully understand this new format and arranging the moving parts so that they’re lined up across the online and live felts,” Rose says. “We rectified any initial confusion by adding filters in the lobby for ‘online only’ and ‘live events.’ We also added more obvious labeling and signifiers on the schedules on the partypoker LIVE website, and Jaime Staples provided players with an explainer video.
“Again, the feedback from players has been very encouraging and I think we’re learning how to make these events even better as we gain experience in running them.”
♦️ 8/54 players made it through last night's Grand Prix UK Online Day 1 on @partypoker!
💷Each one locks up a £250 min cash before heading to the club for Day 2 on Sunday!
ℹ️The next Online Day 1 kicks off at 8.05pm tonight!
— Dusk Till Dawn (@DTD_Club) March 9, 2022
Casino partners like added promotion, events
Some may see adding online events to a live series might as a drawback for casino partners. However, Rose notes that venues are pleased to see even more focus on their festivals. The online events don’t really take away from the live series, but simply offer something more.
“Our casino partners have been as excited as we have about hosting these series,” he says. “From their side, it’s a great opportunity to market and promote their venue, and they can host our events without having to set aside up to 12 days on their schedule, which in these times can still be quite tricky for a lot of venues due to capacity and staffing.”
Venues don’t have to set aside as much time to host the series. Some uniqueness also comes to the play on the online felt in these online-live series. Party tries to make the online section of the schedule as close to live play as possible including:
- using real names
- similar events to the live schedule
- mini versions of larger live events
- use of the same brands
Additionally, the online portion of these festivals also reaches a larger group of players who might not be able to afford larger live events. For example, the Grand Prix UK series included numerous $11 and $22 tournaments.
As in most online series, the site also offered numerous bargain-priced satellites. Qualifiers started at just a penny, giving players a shot at a much bigger live tournament after earning a seat.
There are three more Online Day 1's for the £150,000 guaranteed Grand Prix UK! You can qualify using our satellites from just £0.01 into the flight tonight, tomorrow or Wednesday at 8:05pm BST. https://t.co/g9hxmkQc0Y pic.twitter.com/lBnoOpzfcN
— partypoker (@partypoker) May 16, 2022
Are more hybrid series in the works?
With players and casinos pleased with the hybrid concept, it seems even more are coming. Party recently outlined several series planned for 2022 and online portions are also included in several.
“We’re very happy with how these events have played out so far, and going forward, we will continue to assess our options in this area,” Rose says. “What I can say for now is that while we will continue to run our flagship MILLIONS brand as separate online and live series, partypoker Championship series will continue using the online-live format and structu
Overall, Rose believes the concept has been a nice addition and there are many positives for players.
“This is the first time we’ve been able to offer players the opportunity to play in prestigious live series both from home and in person,” he says.
“Less travel, fewer expenses, but the same amount of fun and chances to win at the tables. It’s a win-win for players who love both formats.”