Promoting Poker: The More the Merrier
PokerStars this week announced sponsorship of what will be the largest poker tournament ever held in Russia with PokerStars Championship Sochi in May. We're going to the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics and putting on an Olympic size and quality poker event.
And if you're watching the PokerStars live event schedule for March, you'll notice that we have the Championship in Panama back-to-back with the Festival in Rozvadov, Czech Republic. To webcast the events, we'll even need two broadcasting teams running in parallel - James Hartigan and American Poker Award-winning Joe Stapleton in Panama, while Matt Broughton and Lee Jones are 6,000 miles away in Rozvadov.
Multiple continents, same game
As if that weren't enough, as you read this, PokerStars London Series has just finished at the Hippodrome in London, and we've just announced the new PokerStars MEGASTACK, a series of tournaments aimed at recreational players, which kick off in April. In a few short weeks, we'll be in Macau for the Championship from March 30 through April 9. In short, the PokerStars live event wave continues to roll forward, bringing amazing live events to poker shores around the world.
We're proud to have had a hand in promoting poker around the world over the past 15 years and we remain committed to growing the game. That also means that we delight when we see other sites step up their game whether that be online or live. More on our competitors in a minute...
Online poker always has and always will be our core business; we've continually evolved the online experience to anticipate the changing needs and expectations of the new audiences which are the lifeblood of any business. Audiences that generate the player volumes that our players - and our business model - need to sustain the poker economy.
But live events have also played a critical role in poker's growth and the growth of global live events - and the concept of Poker Tourism - has grown in good measure out of the vigorous competition of online operators, including PokerStars, promoting their sites, sponsoring live events and building excitement for the game.
Welcome back to the Party
While our competitors were cutting back or eliminating live events and Pro sponsorships in recent years, PokerStars consistently invested in creating some of the best and most successful tours and continued to sponsor many of the best players in the world (although admittedly in fewer numbers). That's because we know that this investment is good for poker and good for players. Live events are exciting platforms to highlight the game, to create opportunities for players to compete and to have fun as a community. In that respect, the more live events being produced around the world, the better it is for everyone.
It's been a dozen years since the European Poker Tour took its first baby steps. When we started, we contended with venues that were hesitant to bring in "large" poker tournaments and faced challenges as basic as getting water and decent Wi-Fi to players. Now, we have gyroscopic cameras following the action, USB charging ports built into the tables, and coverage across web, social, Facebook and Twitch.
But the evolution doesn't stop there. Live poker will and must continue evolving. That's why we evolved our tours into the topline PokerStars Championship and PokerStars Festival.
And that's why we welcome the recent renewed interest in live events and pro player sponsorships from the likes of 888, Unibet and PartyPoker, among others. It may seem counter-intuitive to encourage other companies to invest in live events, but we believe competition is good for players and good for poker. Competition makes everyone work harder, be better and it builds more energy and excitement around the game, which in turn creates a rising tide that lifts all boats.
So, the more the merrier. Welcome back to the Party!
Eric Hollreiser is Vice President of Corporate Communications for Amaya Inc. and PokerStars.