EPT Barcelona: What's new for this season?

The European Poker Tour's thirteenth season is today gearing up in Barcelona with the opening events of the Estrellas Poker Tour. It seemed like a fantastic opportunity to give some insight into what's coming up. I can lift the bonnet on a few areas, including a shift in our payouts structure that will see 20% of fields paid (up from 15%), and the rollout of PLO High Roller events - but do pencil in next Wednesday to check the news here on PokerStars Blog.

neil_johnson_blog16aug16.jpgNeil Johnson on duty

What can we look forward to?

Lots! We have a number of really exciting things coming along, which you'll find out about soon. But for the moment here are a few things that are going to move the needle in 2016 in EPT13.

What's this about a PLO High Roller?

When building the schedule for the Bahamas in 2017 we wanted to give our big PLO players a bonus and when we found a pretty good spot in the schedule we thought it would be fun to throw a $25K buy-in PLO High Roller into the mix.

Once we started exploring the impact on the overall schedule we realized it wasn't just a good idea for the Bahamas but a great idea for the whole EPT and immediately dropped it into Prague, Malta and Barcelona for €10K. It will follow the same buy-in rules as the regular EPT High Roller with $/€25K in the Bahamas and Monaco and €10K in Malta, Barcelona and Prague.

What's going on away from the tables?

We've had some fun at PokerStars events over the last year playing Chess on the UKIPT and EPT while the IPT has been playing Pinball and Backgammon. We are looking to leave the felt even a little bit more during upcoming events.

The popular EPT Chess will be making a debut in Malta and a return to Prague (potentially even a stop in the Bahamas if I can get it approved). We're also exploring some EPT Backgammon and sliding our way into the casinos of our partners to maybe play some Blackjack, Roulette or even Video Poker or Slots! While we won't have any pinball in 2016 on the EPT, I will be accepting challenges on the flippers across the pond around Halloween if you follow my meaning.

Wait, I've got an idea!

If anyone has something fun they would like to play, please reach out and let us know. Almost all poker players at heart are card players and I would love to see EPT Cribbage, EPT Gin, EPT Hearts, even EPT Crazy Eights!

Pay that man his money!

The biggest change for EPT13 is the expansion of our payouts. We've focused a lot on making the live poker experience as positive and enjoyable as possible and that's included looking at the payout structure. For the last three seasons, the EPT has paid 15% of the field at our Live Events with a minimum cash of approximately 1.7x your buy-in.

For EPT13, we are expanding our payouts out to 20% of the field (non-EPT events will finish out their seasons with the existing structures). It isn't going to have the top-end impact that some people may think as we have decided that the min cash for all the players that we are adding between 15% and 20% will be between 1x-1.2x your buy-in. It's been something that we've been working on right down to the wire to make sure that the impact is overall a positive one for all players and also fits our goal of having more winners.

For example, 220 players bought into a €1,000 Hyper at Barcelona last year. The winner collected €45,134 and 31 players were paid out with 31st getting €1,878. This year, the winner would collect €38,028 but 47 players would be paid out with 47th getting €1,238. That same 31st player would get €1,921.

Another example is the €500 HORSE which had 79 runners. Rather than 11 players getting paid out between €958 and €10,537 we would pay 17 players out between €575 and €8,843.

It's a way to give a lot more players a second shot, while exerting only a negligible effect on prize pool distribution. It's a tough line to tread: giving more players a better experience while making sure that champs are well rewarded. Given the popularity of events that we're running we believe that this provides a better balance. We always listen to feedback and try to factor in as many opinions as possible.

A little bird told me...

The news we have coming up is really exciting and I can't wait to talk with everyone about all of it.

I guess my answer for now is that last year we spent Halloween in Malta and it was a ton of fun setting up things like the Friday FrankenStack and the Not Your Mummy's Main Event Turbo. This year for Halloween I'll be at a different event and we have already created the Revolting Razz Turbo and the Terrifying Turbo which will give double stacks to players in costume (floor decision on what is and is not a costume is final).

I probably already said too much, so I'll end by saying it will be fun to go back home to work again. It's been too long...

Please email me at live@pokerstars.com with any feedback that you have about the issues above or anything PSLive related.

Neil Johnson is Department Head, Live Poker Operations for PokerStars. Follow him on Twitter: @NeilJPoker.

Neil Johnson
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour