Why are numbers dropping for the PokerStars UKIPT? Neil Channing, Sam Grafton and others give their opinion

The Edinburgh leg of the PokerStars UK & Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT) has just finished, with Dean Hutchison crowned the winner and PokerStars Team pro Liv Boeree finishing as runner-up. It was yet another brilliantly run tournament by PokerStars but, as was the case in recent legs from Nottingham and the Isle of Man, many of the headlines revolved around the large overlay that ‘Stars had to make up after a disappointing number of players registered. 

The £1,100 tournament drew 427 runners to create a £427,000 prizepool – a full £73,000 less than the £500k guarantee that PokerStars had put on the event. This number is significantly down from the 612 players that travelled to Edinburgh for the UKIPT in 2013. @PokerPlayerUK created a stir on Twitter when we asked the poker community:

‘Pretty brutal overlay at #UKIPTEdinburgh. What do you think the reasons are? Too close to New Year? Players at PCA? Too busy schedule?’

We were overwhelmed with the response. Top UK pros such as Neil Channing, Sam Grafton and David Docherty chimed in with their thoughts, alongside a ton of recreational poker players. UKIPT President Kirsty Thompson also joined the conversation and assured poker players that PokerStars are always aware of feedback and looking to make improvements. We hope to speak with Thompson soon to get more details on future plans of the UKIPT. 

Here are some of the best responses we received: 

Neil ‘@SenseiChanning’ Channing: [in response to £1k being too big a buy-in] ‘GUKPT in January for £1070 in London got £397k last year, should get £500k this year. DTD hosting Sky UKPC in February also. Guaranteeing £500k and expecting £600k.’

Sam ‘@SquidPoker’ Grafton: ‘[Lack of] TV obv main thing. Venues without a pre-existing poker community. Edinburgh also had shorter than normal satellite period. Still great stops [though]. Excellent parties, nascent High Roller scene. Many positives, little to complain about.’

David ‘@daviddc2m’ Docherty: ‘Dunno why more people don’t mention TV show. There isn’t even web coverage this year. Gonna have big effect. Galway shows you can get the players (even a €1k in a place hard to get to) when it’s promoted right + at right time of year.’

Tony ‘@boobcfc’: ‘This series started out to bring amateur, recreational players a chance to play in a well run poker series, now its just for pros, very few amateur players in them now.’

Fergal ‘@midnitekowby’ Nealon: ‘The 1.1k buyin is too much for grassroots rec players on these shores. Lowering buyin + another season on TV will help.’

Nathan ‘@nfernandes317’ Fernandes: ‘£1000 is too small for the big boys, too big for the small boys plus it’s a busy schedule and it’s in Scotland.’

Here is how UKIPT President Kirsty Thompson responded to the conversation on Twitter:

Kirsty ‘@Kit78’ Thompson: ‘We are listening to players and the buy-in is reduced for Dublin. That will be the real tester! Thank you for your feedback. We are definitely trying our best but player feedback IMO is the most important thing I appreciate it! We all miss the TV show but budgets are budgets! I agree with you and have passed on your feedback.’

Despite the discussions and recent overlays there is no doubt that the UKIPT is still the UK’s premier poker tour. The fact that we get so much feedback and response to every tweet or story about the UKIPT shows how deeply the poker community care about its future. No doubt there will be some slight changes to the tour to attempt to recapture the huge, huge fields of recent years but the future of the UKIPT is still very bright. Next up on February 27 is the Dublin leg (with that experimental €700+€70 buy-in), followed by the Nottingham leg with a monumental £1m guaranteed prizepool. Any tour that can afford to put on such an ambitious, fantastic event is not in trouble – the UKIPT is likely to remain the best tour on these shores for many years to come. 

For more poker news and great content, get the latest issue of PokerPlayer magazine on iTunes here. 

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