The International Stadium Poker Tour

A few months back, a website appeared detailing a poker tournament to be held in Wembley Stadium, London in 2012 as part of the ‘International Stadium Poker Tour’ with a guaranteed prize pool of €20M. The site was sparse on information but it did emerge that the tourney was the brainchild of Full Tilt Poker suitor Bernard Tapie. 

Other than a glitzy video promo however, there wasn’t much to go on, and the speculation died down on the internet forums about the whole thing and everyone just assumed it was some sort of viral marketing.  This week however the rumour mill is back working full steam ahead as details of the event were released. French producer Prosper Masquelier  was hired by Tapie to run the whole show and it is now confirmed to be taking place at Wembley on May 31st 2012. To add further credibility to the event, Michael ‘The Grinder’ Mizrachi is acting as ambassador for the tourney.

I’m sure you’re keen to know how it’s all going to down and when you research the event a bit more, you find the devil is indeed in the detail. While a good way to make this happen might be to hold a €1,000 live freezeout and market it to death, the ISPT have taken a truly bizarre approach. Firstly, the tourney will have a €600 buy-in. That’s not so bad right? Well when you break it down and see that €180 of the €600 goes in registration fees things begin to look at  lot worse. Fear not though, all players are allowed 2 rebuys so it’s only really a 10% registration fee. The problem though is that 90% of people who satellite into this tournament simply aren’t going to have the funds to fire two more bullets at it.

Now for the really bizarre stuff, if you want to late register on day 3, you can buy-in directly and receive a chip stack that is right on the average in the tournament for a mere €6,000, of which €2000 is a registration fee. The reason for this exorbitant fee…to discourage people from doing so. 

OK, so what about the logistics of the whole thing; where are they going to put the estimated 3,000 poker tables that they need to fill to make the guarantee? Why, in the ether of course. That’s right, the first two days will be held online. So you need to bring your laptop to Wembley and play on the specially commissioned online poker client in the stands for two days before it turns into a live tournament. They’ve promised that every single player will be given an ethernet connector and a power source to keep their laptop charged throughout the event, as well as a table for the laptop and a shield to prevent cheating.

The magnitude of what they’re trying to achieve and they way in which they’re going about it is truly mind-boggling; so mind-boggling in fact, that no one actually believes it’s going to happen, and who could blame them. Poker players for the most part don’t like change. They want to show up and play live poker in a hotel, not online poker in a football stadium. The whole plan has drawn nothing but criticism on the forums and it really does look like a tall tale. Tellingly, while the website had the word ‘guaranteed’ plastered all over it in reference to the prize pool, that word has been removed today. When questioned about it, one of the promotion staff said that everything is still in order and the money has been escrowed, but he’s not at liberty to say anything else until a press conference on September 3rd.

We’ll keep you posted on all of the news about this bizarre, but strangely intriguing event.