PokerStars Closes in on Launching India-Facing Platform After Securing Crucial Local Partnership

PokerStars Closes in on Launching India-Facing Platform After Securing Crucial Local Partnership

More than a year after declaring its intention to enter the Indian market, PokerStars parent company The Stars Group moved one step closer to its goal last week.

In a scheduled quarterly earnings call with investors, Rafi Ashkenazi – who serves as chief executive officer for the The Stars Group – confirmed that the global online poker leader has agreed to partner with Indian lottery operator Sugal & Dumani:

“In India, we have entered into an arrangement with a well-established domestic licensed lottery and gaming operator, which will give our brand access to this highly populated market and the ability to build awareness for both our PokerStars brand and the game itself.

We anticipate the brand being launched in the second quarter, initially on the ringfenced basis, but believe it will take a few years for the business to reach profitability and for us to receive noticeable license fees.

PokerStars continues to be the leading promoter of poker globally and we continue to seek new ways to capture the attention of our target market with compelling campaigns and promotions.”

The news first broke courtesy of local news outlet, which reported that Sugal & Damani’s parent company Sachiko Gaming Private Limited recently acquired the domain name. As is the case with Sugal & Damani, Sachiko Gaming Private Limited is under ownership by Sachar Gaming Private Limited.

Per the report, India’s Registrar of Companies (ROC) lists Hardik Parekh and Keval Parekh as Directors of both Sachar and Sachinko.

Sachinko describes the company’s objective, as required by Indian law, as follows:

“Doing business and marketing of online gaming platform and e-commerce trades with associates and direct customers.”

Sachar Gaming operates the rummy website KhelPlayRummy, and until the most recent development, operated the online poker platform KhelPlayPoker. The latter site has been shuttered, ostensibly to be replaced by the new PokerStars India product.

For the time being, visitors to the domain will find a stock screen bearing only the words “Coming Soon!”

But according to unnamed sources used by, the site could go live within “the next few weeks.”

Back in December of 2016, as PokerStars confronted the imminent prohibition of online poker throughout Australia, Ashkenazi told investors that a pivot to India may be in the cards:

“We want to be there in time and we want to make sure that we are, as usual, the market leader when it comes to poker.

India could be a greater opportunity compared to Australia, and when we look at the player base it would be a bigger one. However, from the purchasing power point of view, India is quite different from Australia.”

We estimate the market in India to be anywhere between $ 80 million to $ 150 million a year. So, it will be bigger than Australia eventually, of course. But it will take time to build up this level of revenues from India.”

At the time, a report by the India Times revealed that more than 50,000 players in the country were signed up with unregulated online poker sites.

Continue Reading

PokerStars’ Shift to Celebrity Sponsorships Sparks PartyPoker Signings

PokerStars’ Shift to Celebrity Sponsorships Sparks PartyPoker Signings

Following a wave of departures from the site’s Team Pro roster, PokerStars parent company The Stars Group is preparing for a new era of online poker marketing.

The world’s leading online poker room has parted ways with several high-profile professional players to ring in the new year.

Vanessa Selbst, who leads the women’s all-time tournament earnings list with over $ 11.8 million, announced her retirement from poker via Facebook on December 31. Less than a week later, Brazilian pro Felipe Ramos revealed that his Team Pro contract had not been renewed. Within days, Jason Mercier did the same, and by January’s end he was joined by European stars Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier and Marcin Horecki.

In his announcement, Ramos alluded to a strategic shift on the part of PokerStars, telling his Twitter followers that “the company’s priorities have changed.”

Grospellier made similar comments, observing that “Team Pro used to be a core part of their strategy, but it became evident this was not the case anymore during the last few years.”

After acquiring PokerStars in 2014, Canadian iGaming firm Amaya (now known as The Stars Group) began pivoting the site’s focus from high-volume pros to recreational players. As part of this transformation, PokerStars’ live tournament events were scaled back, while the online platform integrated casino and sports verticals, along with poker-based lottery games like “Spin and Go” tournaments.

PokerStars also drew the ire of top pros by severely rolling back the site’s rakeback and rewards programs last year.

In an interview with Mo Nuwwarah of PokerNews, Eric Hollreiser – who serves as director of corporate communications for The Stars Group – offered insight into the site’s Team Pro purge:

“For many years there was an arms race between PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker – and PartyGaming to a lesser extent – to see who can sign the most and ‘best’ pros.

After Black Friday and the demise of Full Tilt and our subsequent takeover of the brand, there was very little competition for sponsored Pros – and much lower global competition for live poker events in general.”

In lieu of pro players, The Stars Group has increasingly turned to athletes and actors to promote PokerStars.

A wave of signings in 2015 brought international soccer stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr. aboard, along with tennis legend Rafael Nadal. Last year Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt became a PokerStars partner, while comedian and actor Kevin Hart has competed in several live high-roller tournaments as part of his campaign to “make poker fun again.”

Hollreiser linked the decision to let Team Pros walk to the success of celebrity sponsorship:

“As we increased the use of athletes, there was less demand for sponsored pros from our marketing teams.

So we continued to reduce the roster of Pros, while always adjusting the mix of players.

We also believed that our ambassadors should not solely be winners and credible/authentic poker players but should live and breathe the game, proactively creating excitement around it and generating multimedia content that reaches multiple audiences.”

PokerStars may not be in the sponsored pro game any longer, but its primary competitor is stepping up to fill the niche.

PartyPoker has been on a signing spree in recent months, adding top pros like Fedor Holz, Jason Koon, Martin Jacobsen, Kristen Bicknell, and Philipp Gruissem since September of last year.

Another star poached by PartyPoker is Ike Haxton, who lambasted his previous employer PokerStars in a 2016 statement announcing his departure from the Team Pro ranks:

“I believe PokerStars is behaving unethically.

Announcing in November that players who earned Supernova and Supernova Elite status in 2015 will not receive the benefits they had expected in 2016 strikes me as dishonest and unfair.

I cannot in good conscience continue to endorse a poker site that treats its players this way.”

Last week, Haxton sounded ready to represent PartyPoker to the best of his abilities:

“Being a public face, appearing in advertising, showing up at events, wearing their patch.

I’m optimistic that I’ll be in a good place to get player feedback to people who can make changes.

I think what PartyPoker is doing right now is pretty good. But having people who are engaged in the high-stakes tournament and cash game community can help them to adapt to serve those communities as well as they can.”

Continue Reading

PartyPoker Wins “Poker Operator of the Year” Award to End PokerStars’ Three-Year Streak

PartyPoker Wins “Poker Operator of the Year” Award to End PokerStars’ Three-Year Streak

Like two ships passing in the night, online poker site PartyPoker dethroned rival PokerStars at the recent 2017 eGaming Review (EGR) Operator Awards.

In a ceremony held in London on October 26, PartyPoker received the coveted EGR “Poker Operator of the Year,” snapping PokerStars’ three-year reign in the process.

Along with PokerStars, PartyPoker beat out 888poker, Pokerdom, and Sky Betting & Gaming to take top honors.

The site’s managing director Tom Waters celebrated in a statement posted to the PartyPoker Blog one day later:

“We are delighted that PartyPoker was voted poker operator of the year at the EGR awards last night.

PartyPoker has been transformed from a declining brand to a poker site that is now delivering a real challenge to the global poker market.

It is testament to the hard work and dedication of the PartyPoker team over the last year and hopefully this is just the beginning.”

In winner’s comments posted to the EGR website, judges praised PartyPoker management for embracing the natural synergy between online operations and the live tournament circuit:

“PartyPoker recorded phenomenal growth rates in absolute terms but it was even more impressive given the perceived structural decline of poker market.

Management clearly focused on revamping product supported by live tours and strong brand push after a period of neglect.”

The live aspect of PartyPoker’s renaissance began in January of this year, when the site launched its new PartyPoker LIVE tour to compete with PokerStars’ Championship series of live events. One month later, the site poached John Duthie – a poker pro who founded the PokerStars-owned European Poker Tour (EPT) and served as its chief executive officer – to serve as president of PartyPoker Live.

At the time, Duthie outlined PartyPoker’s commitment to serving the poker community, while taking a veiled swipe at PokerStars for focusing on casino gaming and other ventures instead:

“I have been impressed with the progress of PartyPoker and in particular the number of trusted, experienced and well-respected individuals and organizations who have chosen to put their support behind the PartyPoker brand.

I believe there is a gap in the market for an operator whose primary focus is poker and who will listen to and work with the poker community, as this was something that was absolutely key to the growth and success of the EPT.”

Following its 2014 acquisition by Amaya Gaming, PokerStars initiated a companywide pivot from its poker operations, launching lottery-style poker games while expanding its casino and sportsbook platforms. This policy shift included a rollback of PokerStars’ popular “rakeback” program, which had previously been used to entice high-volume professional players to the site.

In March, PartyPoker hired former World Poker Tour (WPT) broadcaster and Poker Hall of Fame inductee Mike Sexton to serve as the site’s Chairman. Sexton, who was one of PartyPoker’s founders in 2001 before shifting to the WPT, immediately instituted a series of policies designed to replace PokerStars as the pros’ preferred platform.

Those policies appear to be working in spades, culminating in PartyPoker ending PokerStars’ three-year streak at the EGR Awards.

PartyPoker parent company GVC Holdings – which acquired Digital Entertainment in September of 2015 – was also named as EGR’s “Casino Operator of the Year,” giving the company a clean sweep in the two headlining honors.

In a press release, GVC chief operating officer Shay Segev expressed his pride at the unexpected double-up:

“We are very proud to be recognised with these two prestigious awards.

As we near the completion of our technology migration, this is a real tribute to the dedication and skills of our hard-working teams.

They have been able to create a best-in-class customer offer while at the same time completing a complex technology challenge.”

Continue Reading

Australian Senate Makes Online Poker Ban Official; PokerStars Set to Depart in September

Australian Senate Makes Online Poker Ban Official; PokerStars Set to Depart in September

Despite an ongoing inquiry into the matter, on August 9 the Australian Senate used a simple voice vote to complete a federal ban of online poker.

The Senate voted to authorize a legislative package known as the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill (IGAB) of 2016, which also prohibits online casino gaming and “in-play” wagers placed during live sporting events.

The IGAB was introduced last November by Mitch Fifield, who serves as Minister of Communications, after governmental inquiry titled Review of Illegal Offshore Wagering. The report concluded that offshore iGaming sites in Australia were flouting restrictions against certain advertising practices, while offering in-play wagering which is already banned under federal law.

In response, Fifield’s IGAB sought to amend that law – known as the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) of 2001 – by clarifying statutory language regarding iGaming regulations and associated enforcement.

Lawmakers also took aim at internet casinos, arguing that the original IGA specified sports betting as the only legal form of online gambling. However, in doing so, they crafted the new amendments to cover all non-sports related wagers, effectively including online poker in the IGAB’s ban.

When it became clear that the new law would outlaw online poker, Senator David Leyonhjelm – the sole member of the libertarian-inspired Liberal Democratic Party to hold a Senate seat – called on his colleagues to reexamine the law’s purview. Leyonhjelm argued that online poker was a game of skill, rather than gambling as referred to by the IGA, and pointed out that the Senate never intended to ban online poker when writing the bill.

Working alongside a grassroots lobby group formed by players called the Australian Online Poker Alliance (AOPA), Leyonhjelm compelled the Senate to hold an inquiry into the issue, with the public invited to submit written testimony as to their views of online poker.

On August 1 the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee commenced a hearing to investigate the online poker ban, but eight days later, the debate was ended via voice vote – before that hearing had even produced its findings.

AOPA spokesman Joseph Del Duca issued a statement in response to the Senate’s sudden change of course:

“The Australian poker community should be very proud of how they have held themselves through the campaign.

We have rallied together as a strong community. The inquiry has received so many submissions from people who want to save our game that they haven’t been able to keep up with the work load.”

Del Luca also urged his fellow online poker players to continue the fight to preserve their iGaming rights in the future:

“Whilst it was unfortunate that the government did not wait for the Senate Inquiry findings to come through, we urge Australian poker players to not give up hope. Our game is not dead and we will continue to campaign for safe, legal online poker when the Senate Inquiry is handed down.

Our call for a safe, regulated online poker market in Australia is still the only option that provides freedom for players, revenue for the government and protection for those in need.”

Even as major operators like 888 Poker have already fled the Australian market, industry leader PokerStars has held firm, waiting to see if the AOPA’s last-ditch effort produced results.

On the latest news, PokerStars sent an email to its Australian player base to confirm that the site would indeed be withdrawing its real-money services:

“We’re proud to have seen the Australian poker community grow so strong over the last decade.

We do respect the Australian Government’s decision in taking steps to protect consumers and hope that in time we’ll be able to serve real money poker to you again.

We’d also like to thank the Australian Online Poker Alliance for their campaigning on behalf of the game and suggest that you consider lending them your voice if you’d like to see a regulated return of online poker to Australia.”

The mid-September date is based on the 30-day enforcement window called during the Senate’s passage, which would see online poker made illegal on September 9. However, the IGAB must still receive royal assent to become the law of the land, so that timeframe remains flexible.

PokerStars will continue to offer play-money versions of its games to players in Australia, and all player account funds will remain available for withdrawal.

Continue Reading

The Stars Group CEO Outlines Strategy to Push “Sharks” Out of PokerStars in Bloomberg Profile

The Stars Group CEO Outlines Strategy to Push “Sharks” Out of PokerStars in Bloomberg Profile

In a profile published August 11 by Bloomberg, the chief executive officer of PokerStars parent company The Stars Group confirmed the worst fears of many professional players.

Rafi Ashkenazi was named interim CEO of The Stars Group – a Canadian iGaming firm which was formerly known as Amaya Inc. – in March of last year, before officially taking on the position last November.

Ashkenazi offered quotes for the Bloomberg article, titled “Poker Site Wants Card Sharks to Fold So the Rest of Us Can Win,” while speaking with author Sandrine Rastello. In doing so, Ashkenazi seemed to support Rastello’s introduction to the growing divide between PokerStars and pros:

“PokerStars has a stern, and unusual, message for some of its most passionate clients: Quit winning so much.

PokerStars says these gamblers – semi-professional types who play hand after hand day and night – became a problem after they grew too numerous and have taken advantage of the thousands of novice bettors who account for the lion’s share of all wagers made on the world’s largest poker website.”

Sick of being dominated, the amateurs cut back on the hands they play. So for the owners of PokerStars … driving out the sharks is a crucial step in their effort to jumpstart growth in a business that has been sputtering.”

Ashkenazi shifted the focus somewhat in the quote that immediately followed, casting PokerStars’ plans as catering to recreational players, but he didn’t deny the author’s premise of a pushback against pros:

“(They) want to enjoy the game as a fun entertainment experience that offers many winning moments and the dream of the big payout.”

Severin Rasset, who serves as director of operations and innovation for The Stars Group, was less nuanced in his assessment of PokerStars’ ongoing shift:

“We were starting to have too many professional players for what we could maintain for a good, healthy ecosystem.”

The former Amaya acquired PokerStars in June of 2014 at a cost of $ 4.9 billion, and since that time, the company has pivoted many of its traditional business and marketing models away from the previous focus on pros.

As part of an overall strategy to remove the company’s reliance on that small community of high-volume customers, PokerStars announced a series of overhauls to its VIP program in November of 2015. Among the reforms which went into effect in 2016 were the replacement of Frequent Player Points (FPPs) with a new rewards system known as Stars Coin.

By capping the level of FPP rewards at 30 percent, PokerStars also stripped down its once vaunted Supernova and Supernova Elite VIP tiers. This effectively devalued the heavy volume of play professionals like PokerStars Team Pro Luca Moschitta once used to famously “purchase” a pair of high-powered Porsche sports cars in 2012.

In an interview with PokerNews published shortly after Moschitta’s 8 million FPPs were exchanged for 350 horsepower, the Italian pro described how the previous system served to incentivize nearly constant play at up to 24 tables simultaneously:

“When I decided to become a Supernova Elite player, that year I started with 80,000 VPP in May and made 920,000 VPP in eight months playing €100 heads-up Sit-and-gos! I was playing around the clock, multi-tabling 9-to-12 heads-up sit-and-gos — it was crazy! That year I made tons of VPP, still made profit and became the youngest Supernova Elite in the world ever.

There are just about 300 Supernova Elite in the world of 50 million total accounts on PokerStars. Being a Supernova Elite is like getting a poker license. Of course, it’s also about earning €100K every year of bonus with FPP as extra profit.”

Those changes to PokerStars’ VIP programs, coupled with a wider emphasis on luck-based lottery-style products like the Spin & Go tournament, prompted immediate backlash within the pro community.

Two boycotts were organized, with players abstaining from major tournament series, and former Team Pro Isaac Haxton resigned his position with the company. Haxton posted a statement to the 2+2 poker forum in which he accused PokerStars of pulling the proverbial rug out from under Supernova and Supernova Elite players:

“I believe PokerStars is behaving unethically.

There’s a lot not to like about these most recent changes and the way they’ve been communicated, but there’s one aspect that I just can’t accept.

Announcing in November that players who earned Supernova and Supernova Elite status in 2015 will not receive the benefits they had expected in 2016 strikes me as dishonest and unfair.”

PokerStars continues to tinker with its VIP program, and Haxton is currently castigating his former employer via regular Twitter feeds, but as Ashkenazi made clear in the Bloomberg piece, PokerStars hasn’t blinked.

Continue Reading

PokerStars Pays Out $39 Million to Host Highest-Volume Day in Online Poker History

PokerStars Pays Out $39 Million to Host Highest-Volume Day in Online Poker History

In a press release issued on May 21, PokerStars predicted that the day would go on to become the largest in online poker history, with more than $ 28 million in guaranteed payouts on the line.

And after 1,275 tournaments were put in the books, PokerStars proudly proclaimed the record-breaking attempt to be a success, having smashed that guarantee by paying out over $ 39 million.

To achieve those results, PokerStars expanded its schedule of standard tournaments to coincide with the site’s 2017 Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) series and its three-tiered Main Event.

Like all SCOOP tournaments, the Main Event is divided into (L)ow, (M)edium, and (H)igh categories, with buy-ins set at $ 109, $ 1,050, and $ 10,300, respectively. The guaranteed prize pools for Sunday’s trio of Main Events were tabbed at $ 1.5 million (L), $ 3 million (M), and $ 5 million (H), and the High version guaranteed a first-prize payout of $ 1 million to the eventual winner.

The previous record for combined payouts in a single day was $ 35 million, set on May 22 of 2016 – when that year’s SCOOP series concluded.

Ahead of the May 21 record rush, Severin Rasset – who serves as director of poker innovations and operations for PokerStars – commented on the undeniable allure that massive guarantees hold for recreational players and professionals alike:

“This is a really special day for us and our players, which will go down in online poker history as a record breaking moment.

The huge prize pools on offer further cement our position as the biggest and the best and on Sunday when players compete for $ 28 million we will be delivering millions of winning moments too.”

And when the once lofty benchmark was surpassed by over $ 11 million, or more than 39 percent, Rasset was quick to thank PokerStars’ player base for turning out in record numbers:

“Thank you to all our players who participated in our tournaments making it possible for us to break these records. Being able to offer the biggest day in the online poker history is a victory for everyone in poker and we’re delighted that so many of our players joined us to make this a reality.

We are proud to have been able to provide so many winning moments to so many of our players and we’re looking forward to providing even more for a long time to come.”

Per the most recent press release, the 2017 SCOOP schedule generated $ 29.5 million of the $ 39 million in payouts distributed across the entire platform.

Those figures included the aforementioned Main Events and their $ 9.5 million in combined guarantees, along with the conclusion of three SCOOP-01 opening events.

Buy-ins for the (L), (M), and (H) tiers of SCOOP-1 were set at $ 11, $ 109, and $ 1,050, respectively, and each event was played out under PokerStars’ popular “Phase” format – allowing for multiple reentries over a series of starting flights spread throughout the schedule. The guaranteed prize pools for these three events were also in the seven-figures, set at $ 1 million (L), $ 1.5 million (M), and $ 5 million (H) to pump up SCOOP’s contribution to the new record.

The largest of these SCOOP-01 Phase tournaments was designed with a $ 1 million guarantee for the winner. In a rare show of cooperation, however, the last five players at the final table agreed to chop the remaining prize pool after surviving a massive field of 5,821 entrants.

Holding twice as many chips as his nearest competitor, Germany’s “girafganger7” claimed the lion’s share at $ 745,000, while none other than Gordon “holla@yoboy” Vayo actually won the tournament to take home $ 692,460. Playing from Canada to access PokerStars legally, the American-born Vayo is best known for his runner-up finish in last year’s World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event.

As for the grand finale, the Main Event (H) final table concludes on May 23, and in an interesting twist for poker fans, decorated pros Harrison “gibler321” Gimble and Connor “blanconegro” Drinan are sitting in first and third on the chip leaderboard, respectively.

Gimble and Drinan are linked as prior winners of the Florida State Poker Championship, and both have recorded live cashes larger than the $ 1.35 million guaranteed prize for winning the SCOOP Main Event (H).

Continue Reading

PokerStars Announces Schedule for Championship Sochi Series in Russia

PokerStars Announces Schedule for Championship Sochi Series in Russia

The world’s leading online poker room will sponsor the largest poker tournament series ever held in Russia, according to a recent press release issued by PokerStars.

Beginning on May 20 and running through May 31, the PokerStars Championship Sochi series will see touring pros and recreational players from around the region convene at the Sochi Casino and Resort.

The schedule consists of 10 poker tournaments which span the spectrum from approximately $ 230 to $ 52,700 in terms of buy-in – depending on the conversion rate between Russian rubles (RUB) and U.S. dollars at that time.

The series will be highlighted by the PokerStars Championship Main Event, a $ 5,590 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em tournament featuring a guaranteed prize pool of RUB150,000,000 (approximately $ 2.6 million). In the company’s schedule announcement, PokerStars billed this massive guarantee as the “largest guaranteed prize pool ever featured in a Russian poker tournament.”

Westerners may be familiar with Sochi from its role as host of the 2014 Winter Olympics, but with the opening of Sochi Casino and Resort this January, the coastal city known for its beaches along the Black Sea is positioned to become a gambling hotbed.

Edgar Stuchly, who serves as director of live events for PokerStars, left little doubt that the global online poker titan believes that to be true:

“Sochi is a premier location for hosting world class events and we are looking forward to bringing PokerStars Championship Sochi to this exciting location.

With its vast array of 5-star hotels, outdoor activities, and 300 sunny days a year, alongside a brand new casino, Sochi is fast becoming a prime vacation spot and gaming destination, all in one.”

PokerStars Team Pro and Russian native Igor Kurganov is just one of several top brand ambassadors expected to make the trip, and he also celebrated Sochi’s status as the latest PokerStars Live destination:

“I’m excited to see PokerStars first ever sponsored live event in Russia and will be competing in the events, of course. I am interested to see the area after the massive investments it has received for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Sochi itself is a summer/ beach destination but I hope to make it out to the gorgeous and very close mountain region of Krasnaya Polyana, too!”

Other members of PokerStars Team Pro who are expected to be in attendance include 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Chris Moneymaker, along with European stars Liv Boeree and Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier.

The festivities kick off on May 20 with a three-day No-Limit Hold’em event tabbed with a $ 10,860 buy-in.

Recreational players can get in the game directly through a pair of modestly priced events, at $ 350 and $ 230, or by competing in satellite events on Seats to the $ 5,590 Main Event can be won for as little as $ 8 through the site’s Spin and Go satellite promotion.

Those that can’t make the trip to Sochi can follow all of the action via the PokerStars live streaming service. The full schedule for the PokerStars Championship Sochi series can be found below:

Date — Event — Buy-In Russian Rubles (US Dollars)

May 20-22 — No Limit Hold’em — RUB$ 618,000 ($ 10,860)

May 20-25 — PokerStars National Championship — RUB$ 66,000 ($ 1,160)

May 20-25 — PokerStars Cup — RUB$ 19,800 ($ 350)

May 23-25 — PokerStars Super High Roller — RUB$ 3,000,000 ($ 52,700)

May 24-25 — PokerStars National High Roller — RUB$ 132,000 ($ 2,320)

May 25-31 — PokerStars Championship Main Event — RUB$ 318,000 ($ 5,590)

May 26 — No Limit Hold’em Single Day — RUB$ 1,530,000 ($ 26,880)

May 27-28 — PokerStars Champ. PLO High Roller — RUB$ 618,000 ($ 10,860)

May 29-31 — PokerStars Championship High Roller — RUB$ 618,000 ($ 10,860)

May 29-31 — PokerStars Open — RUB$ 13,200 ($ 230)

Continue Reading

PokerStars Secures First International iGaming Operator License Issued by the Czech Republic

PokerStars Secures First International iGaming Operator License Issued by the Czech Republic

Amid a spate of withdrawals from mid-level markets, including Israel and Slovenia in 2016, PokerStars recently secured another regional foothold in the Czech Republic.

The globally leading online poker company, which also operates a thriving online casino platform, issued a press release on January 31 to announce that it had been issued the first international operator license under the Czech government’s new iGaming regulation.

Per the press release, the newly launched domain will operate under the strict new licensing policies put in place by the Czech State Supervision of Gambling and Lotteries Department.

In June of 2016, the Czech president Miloš Zeman signed sweeping legislation to create, tax, and regulate a legal online gambling industry. The new laws were designed to replace the previous “grey zone” in which major iGaming companies like PokerStars, William Hill, and several others had been serving Czech players in a quasi-legal fashion for many years.

The U.K.-based sports betting titan William Hill pulled out of the Czech Republic ahead of the new laws being officially enacted on January 1 of this year, but PokerStars successfully applied to join a dozen domestic iGaming entities as the first international operator.

According to PokerStars chief operating officer Guy Templer, the company’s decision to remain in the market and participate in the regulatory process was a priority:

“We are very proud to be the first online casino and poker operator to be awarded a license and support the newly regulated Czech market.

This underscores our commitment to supporting local regulations and obtaining local licenses wherever possible.”

The iGaming legislation, which was authorized by the Czech legislature in a unanimous 42-0 vote, leans toward the restrictive end of the industry spectrum. Licensees will see their gross gaming revenue taxed at a rate of 35 percent, while a subsequent 19 percent corporate tax is also imposed.

Players will be forced to contend with curious burdens as well. The maximum allowable limit for a single online poker wager stands at 1,000 Czech koruna – or just under $ 41 – while winnings from any cash game or tournament cannot exceed 50,000 Czech koruna ($ 2,049).

One reason PokerStars chose to remain in the Czech market despite these impositions is the country’s status as a hotbed for European poker. The capital of Prague was a prime stop on the PokerStars-sponsored European Poker Tour (EPT) for several years, and the city is home to dozens of land-based casinos and card rooms.

According to the press release, PokerStars will connect players in the Czech Republic to “a wide range of poker games and tournament formats across its shared global liquidity.” In addition to poker, the company’s casino platform includes both Classic and Premium blackjack, along with European and Double Ball roulette tables.

The site can be accessed via desktop or laptop through the Windows and Mac operating systems, and mobile users on iOS or Android devices can also participate.

PokerStars parent company Amaya also billed itself as the “most licensed online gaming brand” in the statement, as the Czech Republic became the 17th country to award approval.

Sports betting enthusiasts will be glad to note that Amaya has also submitted an application on behalf of its BetStars online sportsbook brand.

Continue Reading

Previewing the PokerStars The state Winter Number

Previewing the PokerStars The state Winter Number

Online poker players in New Jersey won’t be left out in the cold when the PokerStars NJ Winter Series makes its debut on January 22.

In less than a year, the world’s leading online poker room has made major inroads within New Jersey’s legalized and regulated online poker industry, following PokerStars’ return to the American market in March of 2016. Part of that steady progress, which has seen PokerStars NJ become the state’s top online poker platform, has been built on the site’s commitment to creating fresh new tournament offerings like the upcoming Winter Series.

By spreading 10 different tournaments, each with its own unique format, over eight days of action, the PokerStars NJ Winter Series is designed to hold widespread appeal. The various guaranteed prize pools total $ 275,000, with individual events ranging from $ 15,000 to $ 75,000 in guarantees.

The buy-in amounts are also quite diverse – running from $ 50 to $ 1,000 – so players spanning the bankroll spectrum from micro-stakes to major events will have opportunities to get in the game.

The festivities begin on Sunday, January 22, when Event #1: $ 75 No Limit Hold’em (NLHE) Six-Max with a $ 15,000 guaranteed prize pool kicks off at 4:00 p.m. local time.

Two hours later, Event #2: $ 200 Sunday Special with a $ 65,000 guarantee starts up, giving players who busted out of the opener a second shot.

One high-profile tournament to watch for is Event #4: $ 1,000 NLHE High Roller with a $ 30,000 prize pool, as the region’s top online pros will be tangling with a cool thousand on the line. The big buy-in action begins on Tuesday, January 24 at 7:00 p.m. local time.

When PokerStars held its first New Jersey Championship of Online Poker (NJCOOP) series last October, a similarly structured $ 1,000 buy-in High Roller event attracted more than 100 entries to build a prize pool of $ 109,000.

The first and last days of this year’s Winter Series will each offer a pair of tournaments for players to choose from, while each of the intervening days will feature a single event.

In addition to the standard NLHE format which dominates the schedule, the Winter Series includes Event #6: $ 250 Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) with a $ 20,000 guarantee, giving fans of the four-card variant a stage on which to shine. The PLO tournament takes place on Thursday, January 26 at 7:00 p.m. local time.

The largest guaranteed prize pool generated by the Winter Series stems from the grand finale, as Event #10: $ 400 NLHE Main Event with a $ 75,000 guarantee gets underway on Sunday, January 29 at 6:00 p.m. local time.

Players who prefer to win their way into Winter Series events can participate in smaller buy-in satellite tournaments, which are running around the clock on the PokerStars NJ platform.

Take a look below to review the full schedule for the inaugural PokerStars NJ Winter Series, including dates, start times (local), buy-ins, formats, and guaranteed prize pools:

Event Format                                   Buy-In            Start Date      Time (p.m.)    Guarantee

1          NLHE 6-Max                          $ 75                  January 22       4:00                 $ 15,000

2          Sunday Special SE                  $ 200                January 22       6:00                 $ 65,000

3          NLHE 4-Max                          $ 100                January 23       7:00                 $ 10,000

4          NLHE High Roller                  $ 1,000             January 24       7:00                 $ 30,000

5          NLHE Rebuy                          $ 50                  January 25       7:00                 $ 10,000

6          Pot Limit Omaha (PLO)         $ 250                January 26       7:00                 $ 20,000

7          NLHE Deep Hyper-Turbo      $ 200                January 27       9:00                 $ 10,000

8          NLHE (Rebuy + Add-on)      $ 150                January 28       7:00                 $ 20,000

9          NLHE Prog. KO, 6-Max         $ 200                January 29       4:00                 $ 20,000

10        NLHE Main Event                 $ 400                January 29       6:00                 $ 75,000

Continue Reading

PCA Match Assortment Profits as PokerStars Competition Bahamas

PCA Match Assortment Profits as PokerStars Competition Bahamas

When the popular PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) tournament series returns to Atlantis Resort – on Paradise Island in The Bahamas – on January 6, it will usher in a new era for the worldwide online poker leader.

The 2017 edition will see the PCA brand swapped out for the new PokerStars Championship Bahamas series, but despite adjusting the name, the series’ structure and schedule have been almost entirely preserved.

That means attendees will have 92 individual poker tournaments to choose from between the 6th and 14th of January, ranging from $ 110 to $ 100,000 in price point. The majority of tournaments at the PokerStars Championship Bahamas involve the staple game of No Limit Texas Hold’em, but the schedule is littered with alternative variants like Pot Limit Omaha, Seven Card Stud, the Hi/Lo version of both games, and even the five-game mix known as H.O.R.S.E.

As for the name change, the former PCA – which has been held annually since 2004 – was folded into PokerStars’ new Championship tier of live tournaments back in August. The former European Poker Tour (EPT), which was also sponsored by PokerStars, is said to be replaced in spirit by the Championship level series. Additionally, PokerStars also launched a new Festival series to provide smaller regional series internationally.

When the live tournament structure shift was announced, PokerStars’ Director of Live Events Edgar Stuchly issued a statement to explain the new direction:

“The PokerStars Championship and PokerStars Festival events are an enhancement of the existing PokerStars sponsored live tours, helping to take our vision for live poker to a whole new level.”

The action at this year’s inaugural PokerStars Championship Bahamas kicks off in fine style with the $ 100,000 buy-in Super High Roller event. Long considered one of the “majors” for elite poker pros, the final PCA Super High Roller was won last year by American pro Bryn Kenney, who defeated a field of 44 players (along with 14 reentries) to claim the $ 1,687,800 top prize.

While the Super High Roller and its five-figure buy-in cousins understandably draw headlines, for most attendees the PokerStars Championship Bahamas schedule is defined by dozens of events that cost between $ 110 and $ 330 to enter.

Additionally, the $ 5,000 Main Event offers the best of both worlds, as recreational players can break off a piece of their bankroll, or use satellite tournaments to win an entry. From there, a field that averages about 1,000 players stands between them and life-changing money. Between 2006 and 2015 the PCA Main Event winner took home more than $ 1 million, making it one of the more lucrative tournaments outside of the United States.

The PokerStars Championship Bahamas series runs from January 6 to January 14, but the majority of attendees enjoy a few days of rest and relaxation courtesy of Atlantis Resort’s aquatic amenities before beginning their grind.

A guide to important tournaments, including dates and buy-in amounts, can be found by reviewing the table below:

PokerStars Championship Bahamas Mini-Schedule

Super High Roller – January 6-8 – $ 100,000
National Championship – January 7-9 – $ 2,200
Main Event – January 8-14 – $ 5,000
High Roller – January 9-10 – $ 50,000
Pot-Limit Omaha – January 10-11 – $ 25,750
PokerStars Open – January 10-12 – $ 220
PokerStars Cup – January 12-14 – $ 440
High Roller – January 12-14 – $ 25,750

Continue Reading