Christmas is rolling around and it’s always a good time of year to take stock and think about how we are doing. It’s clear that European poker has never been stronger. August’s €1k Estrellas event in Barcelona hit a record-breaking 1,626 players and they’re playing out the final table right now at the Eureka €1k in Prague, after another phenomenal field size of 1,315. It’s no coincidence that both of these tournaments were operated by PokerStars. Their lead over the poker market continues to extend year on year and, to their credit, they refuse to rest on their laurels with every event ran by Stars coming with a guarantee of world class organisation.
Despite a few recent overlays, the PokerStars UKIPT is still in great shape too. A major reason why the overlays at the Isle of Man and Nottingham happened in particular was that these two tournaments were experimental in nature in the first place. The Isle of Man is hardly known as either a poker hotspot or a tourist destination and so getting a boat load of poker players there was always going to be a challenge. When given proper perspective the 379 players it attracted was not too bad.
Likewise, the six-max nature of the Nottingham main event was a big departure from the usual full ring UKIPT tournaments. I was very surprised when it didn’t hit the necessary 500 players for the €500k guarantee as the tournament had been on my own personal radar for many months. But then, that’s likely a major reason why it didn’t hit high numbers too – the main people excited by this event were cash game and tourney pros that regularly play 6-max online and are very comfortable in hyper-aggressive games.
If, instead, I was a recreational player who played 50p/£1 cash games at the local casino I’d assume that I wouldn’t have much chance in this tourney as it would be filled with good players. And that recreational player would be right too – this was not the tourney to take a £1k punt on if you wanted to ever see a return on that grand! Without a doubt it was the toughest £1k event I’d ever played and there wasn’t too much dead money in the field. I consider myself to be a decent player but on Day 2, out of a table of five players, I was probably the fourth best there behind Lil’ Dave Nicholson, Jack Ellwood and some good online kid.
What I really hope though is that PokerStars doesn’t stop taking chances and experiments on tournaments like the Isle of Man and six-max UKIPTs, despite missing their big guarantees. They are tremendous fun for the players and it’s important that the UK poker scene is viewed as one that is continually innovating and taking chances to retain our position as one of Europe’s most important markets.
The good news is that the early signs for 2014 are very encouraging. In February Sky Poker are hosting the UK Poker Championships, a week-long festival that will culminate in a £500k guaranteed £1k buy-in event, televised on Sky Sports. With a ton of players already registered from online satellites this looks a good bet to hit its guarantee and the exposure granted by a regular slot on Sky Sports is a real bonus for the event. Secondly, the UKIPT has already announced a £1 MILLION guaranteed event for April, showing that their ambition has not been dashed yet. It’s no coincidence that both of these events will be held at Dusk Till Dawn, which continues to confirm its place as Britain’s premier poker venue. Rob Yong and his team at DTD should be applauded for continually taking risks – see the ISPT! – and pushing the envelope for live poker in the UK. I’ll be at both of these tournaments and can’t wait – I suggest you do all you can to get there too.
Exciting times ahead
We’re just literally putting the finishing touches on another issue of PokerPlayer magazine. It’s been a great year for the magazine under new ownership where we celebrated our landmark 100th issue, acquired a new editor (though whether that’s a good thing or not you can decide…) and had a hugely successful relaunch of this website. The best is definitely yet to come though so stay tuned for some big news on PokerPlayer in the first quarter of 2014. Woohoo!
Oh, and you can buy your digital subscription here for just £12.99: http://bit.ly/131DF7p
I wish I got paid on commission for these type of plugs…
Hand of the week
This past week I made my first appearance on the Sky Poker Cash Game. Within ten minutes of sitting down I got bluffed off a set in a very strange hand versus Tim Slater….and I’ve been getting flamed for it on Twitter ever since! To be fair, without the context it’s a terrible fold, and even with context, it may still be a terrible fold! I’ll wait until the video is uploaded online and go over that in my next blog.
For now, enjoy this little hand with some very strange river play by Villain…
1) I’m taking a break from Open Face Chinese Poker. I put in so many hours playing 50p a point versus four of my friends and basically broke even after about three months playing. It’s amazing, amazing fun but I wonder how much edge there really is?
2) Loving Masterchef this series as always but Adam is clearly going to win, he’s a complete genius. I also must visit http://www.osteriafrancescana.it/ after seeing the MAD chef Massino Mottura on the show!
3) Beer of the fortnight: Harvest Pale, Castle Rock Brewery. It was one of my Dad’s favourites and I always think of him when I see it.
All that’s left for me to say is thanks for continuing to support PokerPlayer, have a brilliant Christmas and Happy New Year!
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Photo courtesy of StakeTrain.com.