Tournament Trail: A Preview of International Poker Series Scheduled for This Winter

PokerScout previews international live poker series running over the next few months from the PSPC to WSOP Circuit and more.

For poker players looking to travel this winter, many tournaments are on the horizon this winter. Major series like the World Series of Poker, European Poker Tour, 888poker Live, and the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour are showcasing hot events throughout the colder months.

Big player pools and large guarantees await at many of these tournament stops. The PokerStars Players Championship also kicks off in January and promises to be one of the biggest events of the year. 

PokerScout takes a look at some of the international live poker series running over the next few months.

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WSOP International Circuit

The World Series of Poker hosts multiple international circuit stops in early 2023. All events feature championship rings up for grabs.

Each winner is also granted a spot in the $1 million Tournament of Champions freeroll, set for this summer in Las Vegas. The announced 2023 stops on the schedule include:

  • Jan. 4-24  – King’s Resort (Rozvadov, Czech Republic)
  • Jan. 11-23 – Deerfoot Inn & Casino (Calgary, Canada)
  • Jan. 14-22 – Es Saadi Gardens Resort (Marrakech, Morocco)
  • Feb. 3-13 – Casino Plaza (Dakar, Senegal)
  • Mar. 22- Apr. 3 – Casino Royale (St. Maarten)

WSOP Circuit schedule in Czech Republic

King’s Resort in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, will be the first international WSOP Circuit stop of 2023. The series offers multiple events and highlights include the €1,700 Main Event with a €1 million guarantee.

With 160 poker tables, King’s is the largest poker room in Europe and one of the biggest in the world. Players have a nice mix of options to pick from including No Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha. Besides the Main Event. A few standout tournaments include:

  • €250 Mini Main (Event 1, Jan. 4-8) – €500,000 guaranteed
  • €550 Monster Stack (Event 6, Jan. 12-15) – €500,000 guaranteed
  • €440 Pot Limit Omaha (Event 8, Jan. 16) – €50,000 guaranteed
  • €1,100 Bounty Hunter (Event 12, Jan. 22) – €100,000 guaranteed

PokerStars Caribbean Adventure is back

The major poker action once again returns to the Bahamas this year with the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) at the Baha Mar resort from Jan. 22 – Feb. 3.

The Road to the PSPC (PokerStars Players Championship) is wrapping up and players are headed to the Caribbean for this massive event.

Platinum Pass winners won seats into the $25,000 buy-in tournament, scheduled for Jan. 30. A Platinum Pass includes a tournament and travel package worth more than $30,000. Some other events at the PCA festival include:

  • $100,000 Super High Roller – Jan. 22
  • $30,000 Mystery Bounty  – Jan. 26
  • $25,000 PLO High Roller – Jan. 27
  • $10,000 NLHE Warm Up – Jan. 28

PokerStars offers even more beyond the PCA The PokerStars EPT action returns in February with five major series planned across the continent including a new festival in Paris.

After the PCA is over, PokerStars international events start right back up. Players can expect big fields in tournaments around the world.

Here’s a look at confirmed events in the coming months:

  • Feb. 15-26 – European Poker Tour (Paris, France)
  • Mar. 2-6 – Latin American Poker Tour (Rio De Janeiro, Brazil)
  • Mar. 29 to Apr. 4 – Brazilian Series of Poker (São Paulo, Brazil)
  • Apr. 26- May 6 – EPT (Monte Carlo)

Stars offers online qualifiers for many live events in the coming months. Players have a chance to win tournament packages at a bargain price.

888poker winter events approaching

Live tournament players also have a couple of events to look forward to from 888poker. The company recently released a full slate of events for 2023 with action planned all around the world. 

Players looking for some winter action can check out two upcoming events. That includes the Madrid stop from Jan. 13-23 and 888poker Live London from Feb. 9-13.

Online players have the opportunity to win a seat into the action throughout the year. 888 Live Passports are up for grabs for players completing a certain set of challenges.

888 awards exclusive packages to the live event of a player’s choice. More details on qualifying will be released in the coming weeks.

WPT plans for 2023

The World Poker Tour also has a few international tournaments planned for the winter months as well. From Jan. 22 – Feb. 5, the tour is hosting WPT Prime series in Paris, France at Club Circus casino.

Players kicking off the new year chasing player of the year points will find a mix of tournaments. The €1,100 main event starts on Jan. 31 and highlights the series.

WPT Prime then heads to Amsterdam with the main event running March 29 – Apr. 1. More events are in store for international players later in the year as well.

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Grosvenor UK Poker Tour

In the United Kingdom, the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour (GUKPT) has a full schedule set for 2023. The tour has more major events planned out the entire year and some of those winter tournaments include: 

  • Jan. 12-22 – London, The Vic (£1,250 Main Event)
  • Feb. 2-12 – Manchester, Bury New Road  (£1,250 Main Event)
  • Feb. 25 to March 5 – UK Poker Open – Coventry (£1,500 Main Event)

POKER GYMNASTICS: GGPoker Launches Flip & Go Twist to Traditional Tournaments

GGPoker's Flip & Go's bring unique twists to tournament poker.

With hopes of bringing something new to tournament poker, GGPoker unveiled its latest unique variant this week. The new Flip & Go format is designed to make tournament play more exciting with some innovative twists.

The new events are meant to get players right to the money portion of a tournament.

“If you want to get straight to the hottest action in a tournament, then Flip & Go is for you,” GGPoker ambassador Daniel Negreanu said in a news release. “Get flipping with a standard stack or super-size your chips from the start – the choice is yours.

“There are extra stacks on offer during the flipout and a standard game gets underway once you’re in the money.”

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How do Flip & Go tournaments work?

Flip & Go tournaments allow players to purchase extra buy-ins at registration. They then sit down with up to 10 times the default starting chip stack. 

Once underway, Flip & Go’s kick off with a fast-paced “flipout” phase in which participants are dealt three hole cards. They then must discard one before hands are completed.

Bonus chips are added to the stacks of those dealt certain three-card poker hands, such as straights and flushes. 

The flipout phase ends when every table has played down to a single winner. Each of these is then guaranteed a prize. The rest of the Flip & Go is then played out in a standard Texas Hold’em tournament format.

Flip & Go buy-ins start from just $0.01 and tournaments are scheduled every 30 minutes.

GGCare continues helping with bad luck

This new tournament joins another unique GG January promotion called GGCare. This program allows cash game players a chance at overcoming some bad luck.

The site utilizes an algorithm to recognize those who receive a tough cooler or suckout. These players are automatically registered to a daily $30,000 Flipout tournament.

That promotion runs throughout January.

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RETURN TO THE FELT: Casinos, Operators, & Players Reviving the Live Tournament Scene

Scene from the WPT Japan in August.

The Coronavirus pandemic has led to an unprecedented online poker boom. Every operator has reported massive turnouts and that has continued for months.

However, many players may be craving the feel of some chips in their hands and the fun of a live tournament. After months of cancellations and postponements around the world, live tournaments seem to be slowly returning.

A full slate of events still may be months away. However, Coronavirus deaths and hospitalizations are declining in many countries and live events are slowly gaining some traction.

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888poker hits tournament trail, hopes to lead efforts at returning

One of the first operators to get back in the live tournament game has been 888poker. The company held its first live series since the pandemic on Sept. 1-7 at Olympic Park Casino in Tallinn, Estonia.

The series featured 15 events with an €888 Main Event that  brought in 91 entries for a €71,320 prize pool. Latvia’s Edijs Laugals took the title for €19,982.

Like other events held in a COVID-19 environment, numerous precautions were in place. An 888 executive says all upcoming live events will be in line with scientific advice of local governments.

Company officials are constantly monitoring the health situation in each country, adjusting plans as needed for a safe environment. 888 sees the Estonia series as a good start and hopes this expands to some of its bigger signature events.

“The Tallinn event is an important step toward bringing live poker action back for fans around the world,” an 888poker rep said, “and we are happy that 888poker will be one of the first brands to host such an event.

“It will also be an important milestone for both our brand and our players as we work toward future events like the 888poker LIVE Sochi weekend and London Festival. We hope to run these in the coming months, in full compliance with government guidance.” 

In Estonia, players found a similar experience as past events including brand ambassadors onsite. Buy-ins ranged from €55 to €2,000 with most events in the €55 to €220 range but without guarantees.

“Together with affordable buy-ins and our great structure to assure the best live poker experience for all players,” the 888poker executive said, “we hope that our 888poker Live Tallinn event will be the starting point for getting live poker back in the new-normal state.”

WPT sees nice results with series in Japan

World Poker Tour regulars have had to make due with international events via partypoker in recent months. Events like the World Online Championships have attempted to fill the void and even award official WPT titles, prizes, and Tournament of Champions packages.

In the US, the tour has partnered to promote New Jersey events with the partypoker US Network. However, the company held the live WPT Japan on Aug. 10-16 at the Hotel Gajoen in Tokyo.

The tour considers the tournament series a “Special Event.” Gambling is illegal in Japan, so players are invited or qualify through local events. 

Like other live series have reported recently, demand was high. The main event attracted a record 726 entries, up about 35% from last year.

“It also serves as an excellent example for health and safety standards since it is the first live event in post-COVID era,” WPTDeepStacks director Cathy Zhao said.

The scene at the recent WPT Japan event. (photo courtesy Japan Poker Union)

Numerous safety measures were in place to ensure a safe environment. That included:

  • Thorough cleaning and the use of masks throughout the hotel
  • Mandatory mask usage during the tournament
  • Temperature checks prior to entering the tournament area
  • Disinfection measures at the entrance
  • Acrylic partition dividers and social distancing at registration counters
  • Limited numbers of people in the smoking area
  • “Bring your own” bottled drinks only

Another WPT event is also on the horizon in Asia. The tour and its partner, the Chinese Texas Hold’em Poker Association, plans to proceed with WPTDeepstacks Taiwan in December.

“Taiwan has a thriving local poker market and to date has successfully handled COVID-19,” Zhao said. “So the event can proceed even if international travel restrictions remain in place.”

Despite those events, no US tournament dates have been announced. WPT officials continue to work with partner casinos on when some of those postponed events might return.

Returning tournaments seeing massive numbers

There is still a long way to go for the live tournament scene. The World Series of Poker in Las Vegas was postponed to the fall and no date has been announced.

However, there has been some progress. In the US, the Mid-States Poker Tour became one of the first tours to return to the felt in August. The MSPT held a $1,100 tournament at Grand Falls Casino in Larchwood, Iowa.

The event attracted 538 entries, smashing the event’s previous record of 238. That total set a state record for an event priced at $1,000 or more.

In Las Vegas, the Venetian’s Deepstack Showdown is currently running and continues through Sept. 27. The festival features 32 events and a total guarantee of $400,000. Not quite sure what to expect, event organizers lowered normal guarantees for the series.

So far, turnout has been massive with most tournaments easily topping guarantees. For example, the $250 SuperStack on Sept. 13 guaranteed $10,000. However, 254 entries produced a prize pool of $52,070. Other events have seen similar results.

 

The Venetian reopened for business on June 4 with the poker room opening a day later. Like most casinos reopening around the world, the casino has put major safety measures in place.

That includes mandatory mask usage and Plexiglass dividers between players. The new series came after seeing nice turnouts from players and other festivals are already in the works.

“Our one-day poker tournaments have seen tremendous support even with lower guarantees since we resumed on July 24,” tournament director Tommy LaRosa told USPoker.

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Casinos reviving live poker festivals

Other operators are stepping up to grow the returning live tournament scene. In the US, the Seminole Hard Rock casinos in Florida have reopened poker rooms in Tampa, Coconut Creek, and Hollywood.

The casinos offer a vibrant poker scene with regular events on the WPT and WSOP Circuit. All three properties reopened in May and June, and have seen nice demand since getting cards back in the air.

Florida has seen greatly declining COVID-related deaths and hospitalizations in recent months. That has been a shot in the arm for live poker players.

Daily tournaments resumed at the Hard Rock properties on Aug. 1. Those events have seen nice results and now the Seminoles are adding some festivals to the mix.

The first of those begin in October, with Hard Rock’s “Safe & Sound” program in place. That includes high cleanliness standards, mandatory masks, and more.

Other online operators also scheduling live events

The live tournament arms of online poker operators have also been slowly moving back to offer live series.

Partypoker LIVE returns to action Sept. 18-27. The Eurasian Poker Tour returns to the Casino Altai Palace in Altai Krai, Russia, with 29 events and more than $120,000 guaranteed.

The series features a $40,000 guaranteed Main Event and also hosts the Russian Poker Championship. Other partypoker LIVE events are currently postponed, but more could be added in the coming months.

Russia will also play host to PokerStars’ return to the live felt. The company hosts the European Poker Tour Sochi event Oct. 2-11 at the Marriott Hotel and Casino.

The festival boasts 25 events and a $1.6 million guarantee. That’s not the only PokerStars Live event in the works. Two events on the PokerStars Spanish Poker Championship series will be held in October and November in Marbella and Peralada.

Many in the industry are watching to see how some of these events turn out. There are certainly some struggles and adjustments ahead. But many players and tournament operators are ready for the challenge.

Lead image courtesy Japan Poker Union