Posts Tagged ‘pokerstars’

2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Schedule Announced

 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure Schedule Announced

While many may be prepping for the upcoming holiday season, the folks at the PokerStars Championships are getting things prepared for 2018. That’s because pretty much as soon as the hangovers wear off after New Year’s Eve, the 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure will begin. Now we know the schedule for what has become one of the premiere events on the tournament poker calendar.

It seems that the authorities at the PokerStars Championships have learned their lessons from last year’s experiments. Instead of lopping the PCA in with the PokerStars Championships (last year’s tournament schedule was called the PokerStars Championships Bahamas), the original moniker has been returned while keeping it on the roster of events for the PokerStars Championships. There have been some other changes also that should be more “player friendly” than the 2017 version was.

First up is the Championship Event of the tournament schedule. Despite dropping the buy in for the tournament down to $ 5000, player numbers plummeted for the 2017 version of the tournament (in 2016, 928 players turned out for the PCA Championship Event; in 2017, only 738 runners came to the line). For 2018, the PCA is going “back to the future” in reinstating the $ 10,000 buy in for the Championship Event. By getting back to the $ 10K entry fee, the PokerStars Championship staff is looking to rebuild the prestige of the event.

Second, the 2017 PokerStars Championships Bahamas was widely panned because of the number of events that were run. More than 90 official events were a part of the schedule, something that the players thought was a money grab by the PokerStars Championships staff and the owner of the tour, Amaya Gaming (now The Stars Group). For 2018, that number has been pared down tremendously.

Kicking off the festivities on January 6, the $ 100,000 Super High Roller event will be the first to hit the felt. By January 14, 31 tournaments will have taken place for the 2018 roster of events, cutting the schedule from 2017 by two-thirds in an emphasis of “quality over quantity.” The shortened schedule will not only be easier on the players’ wallets, but it will also allow for other action outside of the PCA schedule itself.

If a player isn’t up for the tournaments on the official schedule, PokerStars Championships officials will be operating a host of sit-and-go events with buy ins starting at $ 120. There will also be cash games running 24/7, with stakes starting out at $ 1/$ 2 and going up to $ 200/$ 400. Pretty much any discipline of poker – be it No Limit Texas Hold’em, Omaha Hold’em, Seven Card Stud or even Chinese poker. The Texas and Omaha Hold’em tables will also have a High Hand bonus paid out hourly.

Finally, there is the locale of the tournament. The Atlantis Paradise Island Resort has been the home of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure since its inception and 2018 will be no different. The amenities of the hotel – plus the player adventures that PokerStars is looking to set up, including exclusive player parties – are world renown and should give those that are looking to soothe a beating at the tables with some of the sun of the Caribbean – hey, who doesn’t like being in the sun when winter has its icy grip on half the planet?

Players outside of the States of America can participate in online qualifiers at PokerStars, where packages worth $ 14,855 will be earned. Those packages include the $ 10K seat to the tournament, hotel accommodations, $ 1000 cash (presumably for travel expenses) and more benefits. Last month, PokerStars NJ offered to players in the state of New Jersey a satellite for the PCA, but it isn’t known if there will be any more run on the regulated site of PokerStars in the U. S.

For more information on the official schedule for the 2018 PCA, be sure to visit PokerStars for all the details. With some of the revisions done by PokerStars Championships officials, the 2018 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure may return the event to its once lofty perch as one of the preeminent tournaments of the year.

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PokerStars Expects to Compete in Pennsylvania Online Poker Market

 PokerStars Expects to Compete in Pennsylvania Online Poker Market

At the end of October, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill to legalize and regulate online gambling – including poker – in the Commonwealth. Pennsylvania is now the fourth state – behind Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey – to legalize online poker, so now the discussions in the poker community revolve around when, exactly, might Pennsylvania’s online gambling industry get up and running. We won’t get into that here (though if I were to speculate, it would be mid-2018 at the earliest), but it has been interesting to see that PokerStars already expects to get in on the action.

In a recent earnings call, Rafi Ashkenazi, the CEO of PokerStars parent company, The Stars Group, said, “We are poised to take advantage of the positive momentum in the growth of online gaming globally and the continued march towards regulation, including in the United States where we aim to be among the first operators to launch in Pennsylvania when that state opens its door to online poker and casino.”

Well, he certainly didn’t mince words there.

What remains to be seen is how PokerStars will become one of those operators. According to the new law, there will be twelve licenses available for online poker (as well as twelve more for online table games and twelve for online slots), corresponding to the number of brick-and-mortar casinos in the state. It looks like a thirteenth license will be added, as well, as the bill opened the door for the Live! Hotel and Casino Philadelphia to begin construction. Adding a thirteenth land-based casino will add a thirteenth licensing slot.

The current casinos in Pennsylvania get first dibs at the available licenses. They aren’t cheap, either. Each of the three license types – poker, table games, and slots – cost $ 4 million each just for the application. Should any of the casinos apply for all three within 90 days, they can apply for $ 10 million combined. If there are still available licenses after 120 days, outside “qualified” operators can apply, but they don’t get the discount.

Where PokerStars would probably enter would be as a partner with one of the casinos (applications in this case are less expensive). A casino would apply for the main license and PokerStars would apply for a secondary license to be the gambling platform provider for the casino. This is what PokerStars did in New Jersey, joining up with Resorts AC.

One can only speculate as to which casino PokerStars would team up with in Pennsylvania, but Mohegan Sun Pocono isn’t a bad guess. Mohegan Sun manages Resorts AC, so it already has experience working with PokerStars. If Mohegan Sun wants to get in on the online gambling business in Pennsylvania, it seems only natural that it would continue to work with PokerStars. Then again, who knows if the company wants to and who knows if PokerStars wants to, either?

One analyst did ask about how PokerStars is going to go about obtaining a Pennsylvania license. Chief Legal Office Marlon Goldstein had a fairly vague answer, responding, “We’re still evaluating our options in terms of who we may want to partner with and the landscape in Pennsylvania generally. But again, we are really excited to be competing in that market sequentially as soon as possible.”

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Power Up Expands to More PokerStars Domains

 Power Up Expands to More PokerStars Domains

It now looks like if you have the ability to play on PokerStars for real money from wherever you live and DON’T have access to the new Power Up game, you are in the minority. After initially only rolling the game out to the .EU platform a couple weeks ago, PokerStars has now expanded it to .UK and the flagship site, .COM.

As happens sometimes with online games and technology in general, Power Up actually ran into a technical snag two days after launch, forcing PokerStars to take the game down for a while. At 2:00pm ET on October 11th, just the second day of Power Up’s official real money existence, it was removed from the client software mysteriously, though the company did say on Twitter that it had something to do with the mobile version of the game.

Half a day later, Lee Jones went online to explain that for some reason, the mobile PokerStars lobby was only allowing players to search or filter for Power Up games, rather than all games on the client.

“As a result,” he said, “we have removed PowerUp from our desktop and mobile platforms in order to ensure players continue to have a high quality experience. It is important to note that the Power Up real money experience was not impacted and performed as we had expected.”

Last week, on October 17th, Power Up was put back online.

PokerStars has also added buy-in levels. I had originally reported that there were buy-in options of $ 1, $ 3, $ 7, and $ 15, as that’s what the PokerStars’ website said, but as I am in a state in the U.S. not called New Jersey, I can’t play for real money and, in fact, can’t even SEE the PokerStars lobby. Thus, I was unable to verify that the only buy-ins at launch were $ 1 and $ 3. According to reports (it’s really sad, frankly, that I have to rely on a report for this and can’t just look at the lobby and/or observe games), $ 7 and $ 15 buy-ins have launched this week.

So far, the early reviews of Power Up have been positive, as players have been enjoying the added complexity and strategy the “power” cards bring to the table. PokerStars even came up with a back story for Power Up, which is really bizarre for a poker game:

Clean and renewable energy abounds, bioengineers have eliminated world hunger and the world remains connected at all times through Continuous Presence. However human nature demands competition which is satisfied through intellectual sport. The biggest of all of these, is Power Up. Key to its success and dominance are the nine powers, which require new strategies and approaches to be learnt to master the tactics for success.

Power Up employs completely different player avatars than does other PokerStars games and the poker room has even invented short bios of each character. Murray Hoarsebark, for example, is from the nation “Canine Legion,” has a “slow, thoughtful” play style, is good at spotting bluffs, but allows self-doubt to creep into his game.

Right now, players are automatically assigned an avatar each time they sit down (despite the bios, the avatar has no effect on gameplay – it’s just for show), but apparently PokerStars will allow players to choose their character at some point in the future.

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PokerStars to Restrict Satellite Winners to One Prize Package Per Live Event

 PokerStars to Restrict Satellite Winners to One Prize Package Per Live Event

PokerStars has made yet another significant change to its online poker room policies, eliminating the ability for players to earn multiple seats into live tournaments via satellites. This is a massive departure from tradition, as many players (though not “many” relative to the total poker playing population) found satellites to be profitable endeavors past the initial tournament seat.

On the PokerStars blog, PokerStars Poker Operations Manager Mike Jones hearkened back to the 2003 World Series of Poker, which was famously won by amateur Chris Moneymaker, who also famously qualified for the WSOP Main Event via a $ 39 satellite on PokerStars. While satellites existed before then, they really weren’t all that popular as a means to gain entry into a bigger, more expensive tournament. Moneymaker’s success changed all that, though. Once amateur players saw what Moneymaker did, online satellites- not just at PokerStars – exploded. Now they are commonplace, woven into the fabric of online poker rooms.

Pokerstars, though, has seen the negative of satellites. Jones continued:

While recreational players dream of winning the poker experience of a lifetime with PokerStars, a fortunate and skilled few win multiple packages and seats to our live events, when they can only use one of them. These players have taken advantage of a system that allowed them to profit from winning against recreational or less experienced players. While this hasn’t been against the rules, it doesn’t make for as enjoyable experience as we would hope. The practice has, in fact, been off-putting for many, as we are seeing an increasing number of recreational players not even attempting to qualify for live events. This means that they are as a group less likely to experience the excitement that comes from playing live and the further investment in the poker world that comes from playing in a major live event.

The reason players continue to qualify for live events via satellites even after winning a seat is because they can convert the additional seats into cash. Say, for example, a person two prize packages for the WSOP Main Event via Stars satellites that pay for the $ 10,000 seat plus $ 2,500 in spending money for hotel and flights (I am just ballparking the prize package value). That player might use the first prize package to play in the Main Event, but since he is obviously just one person and can only occupy one seat, PokerStars gives him $ 12,500 for the second seat.

Many poker pros have taken advantage of this system over the years, often finding satellite fields to be softer than those of normal tournaments. Some pros win these things repeatedly, turning their seats into cash time after time.

PokerStars has seen the problem with this for recreational players, so starting with the satellites for PokerStars Festival Dublin, players can only win one prize package into the live tournament. No more playing in loads of satellites to win multiple seats.

“This limitation will, we hope, make sense to the majority of you and stand to reason as being fair,” wrote Jones. “We believe the change will create a more level playing field for all that want to visit our lower buy-in Festivals or experience the glitz and glamour of one of our bigger Championship events.”

PokerStars Festival Dublin runs September 25th through October 1st. Satellites are currently active at PokerStars.

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Sebastian Sorensson Wins 2017 PokerStars Championship Barcelona

 Sebastian Sorensson Wins 2017 PokerStars Championship Barcelona

The live poker tournament scene has been strong the last couple years, but even so, it is pretty incredible – at least to me – that a non-World Series of Poker tourney could garner 1,682 entries. But that is exactly what the PokerStars Championship Barcelona Main Event did and it was that large of a field (minus one, really) that Sebastian Sorensson defeated to win nearly €1 million over the weekend.

Sorensson is basically my poker fantasy come to life. He is a low-stakes online player who qualified for this tournament via a $ 200 satellite on PokerStars. Sure, sometimes it gets tense for us even though we play for a few cents or a few bucks at a time because, after all, those few cents or few bucks are not always an insignificant portion of our bankroll. Plus, we’re competitive and want to win. But no matter how seriously we take our hobby, a major live tournament is like another world entirely.

“The days are so, so long,” Sorensson told PokerNews.com afterward. “It’s really exhausting.”

Reading more about how he got started in poker is pretty amazing. In 2015, he bet on underdog Nate Diaz to defeat Michael Johnson in a UFC fight. The underdog came through and Sorensson won $ 1,000. He then took at $ 1,000 and bet that Donald Trump would win the Republican Presidential nomination and then let those winnings ride on Trump (ugh) winning the election (emotional hedging, I guess?).

With his gambling bankroll up to $ 12,000, he decided to take up micro-stakes poker, which led to PokerStars Championship Barcelona.

According to PokerNews, Sorensson played exactly like I would have, me being a fellow micro-stakes player. Once he made the money, he played tight, trying to survive the money jumps. I, myself, did just that in my most successful live tournament adventure, but I only made $ 3,500 for third place, a FAR FAR FAR cry from what Sorensson just accomplished, so our similarities end there.

Sorensson entered the six-handed final table as the second-shortest stack, holding just 6.125 million chips. For comparison, chip leader Raffaele Sorrentino had 15.5 million. He quickly made more than two million chips in just over one orbit and after 26 hands – just a few after Usman Siddique was knocked out in sixth place – Sorensson was up to 10 million chips. Even more interesting is that he was in fourth place, but the spread between first and fourth was fewer than one million chips. Even Sorrentino, who had fallen to fifth, still had 8.425 million. Things had tightened up quickly.

Sorensson held steady for quite some time, staying within about a million or so of the 10 million chip mark for about another 60 hands, but he eventually lost a big hand to Sorrentino, who was now soaring (more than doubling the chip count we just mentioned), and fell down to close to 5 million.

5 million sounds like a lot of chips, but with blinds at 300,000/600,000, he had to make a move, so he moved all-in on Hand 94, fortunately survived with a worse Ace than Lachezar Plamenov Petkov, when the board allowed them to chop.

After that, there were two speedy eliminations – Andre Akkari in fifth place and Brian Esposito in fourth place – before the 100th hand. Sorensson was the one who got Esposito with A-Q versus K-Q, allowing him to grow his stack to 11.4 million. A few hands later, he was at 16.680 million, still well behind Petkov, who had 22.280 million, but almost equally ahead of Esposito, who was the short stack again with 11.450 million.

With the stacks shallow because of the escalating blinds and the chip counts starting to converge again, the three remaining players eventually discussed a deal. They agreed that Petkov would get the most at €917,347, Sorensson would bank €887,043, and Sorrentino would receive €850,110. They would leave €100,000 on the table as incentive to try to win.

Just four hands later, Sorrentino was eliminated in third place by Sorensson (who had just taken a massive pot from Petkov) and suddenly Sorensson was in complete command of the tournament going into heads-up play with 40.9 million chips versus Petkov’s 9.5 million.

Despite that chip gap, heads-up went on for a long, long time, nearly 70 hands. Petkov even took the lead at one point, but Sorensson regained control quickly and eventually put it away. On the final hand, Petkov went all-in pre-flop for 18.2 million chips with K-9 and Sorensson easily called with A-K. The flop provided Sorensson another Ace and when the turn didn’t give Petkov any of the outs he needed for a runner-runner miracle, it was all over and Sebastian Sorensson became my poker hero.

2017 PokerStars Championship Barcelona Final Table Results

1. Sebastian Sorensson – €987,043
2. Lachezar Plamenov Petkov – €917,347
3. Raffaele Sorrentino – €850,110
4. Brian Kaufman Esposito – €402,000
5. Andre Akkari – €317,960
6. Usman Siddique – €252,000

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