Poker tournaments are back! At least that’s what PokerGO is hoping — and the streaming service is combining that hoping with doing, as it takes action to inject new energy into the tournament scene.
As live poker continues to return in stages from the COVID-19 shutdowns of poker rooms, cancellations of tournaments, and widespread hesitancy to sit at a poker table during a pandemic, PokerGO made a major announcement Thursday of the PokerGO Tour, promising “tens of millions of dollars at stake across 150 tournaments spanning across the globe.” The tour comes with a points system, rankings, and, at the end of the season, a Player of the Year.
It’s not an entirely new idea; the World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour have long had their own points systems and Player of the Year awards, and Global Poker Index tracks a variety of tournaments and ranks players as well.
But what distinguishes this venture by PokerGO — until now, best known for airing events such as the Super High Roller Bowl and made-for-TV shows like High Stakes Poker — is the planned breadth of the tour.
Will players complain as it goes along that the points system and access to the tournaments is inequitable? Probably — no attempt at a poker ranking system, whether for live competition or online poker play, has ever escaped criticism. Still, hopes are high for something players and fans can rally around after the countless disappointments of the last 13 months.
Negreanu approves, others shrug
With the announcement came a variety of reactions on Twitter.
One of poker’s biggest stars and most recognizable ambassadors, two-time WSOP Player of the Year Daniel “Kid Poker” Negreanu, offered an enthusiastic endorsement:
This is gonna be FUN!!!
Very excited to get back in action against the worlds best on the PokerGO tour. https://t.co/XnXRJhC6wx
— Daniel Negreanu (@RealKidPoker) April 22, 2021
Fellow pro Jonathan Little went the emoji route:
— Jonathan Little (@JonathanLittle) April 22, 2021
When someone replying to him asked, “Are you in???” Little gave an emphatic but noncommittal “Maybe!”
There was also snark and skepticism to be found. The “$175,000 in cash prizes” elicited confusion, as the prize pools will add up to many millions of dollars, but the $175K is added money for the top three finishers in the Player of the Year race ($100K for first, $50K for second, and $25K for third). Without that spelled out, $175,000 struck plenty of people as a meager amount:
The global high stakes must be catching Covid or not because the money definitely isn’t there. https://t.co/H4u2eAnxUR
— Agent $007 (@eRSDL_007) April 23, 2021
And some were just sarcastic and apathetic for unspecified reasons:
Ooo I really want to tune in for that…said nobody. https://t.co/CUJpJLpbAx
— Jordan Vargas 🧢 (@OneChipPoker) April 23, 2021
Marquee events unveiled
PokerGO has announced five tour events thus far:
- June 3-14: U.S. Poker Open, a series of 12 tournaments at the PokerGO Studio in Las Vegas
- July 1-10: PokerGO Cup, a series of eight events, with a $100,000 buy-in main event
- July 12: PokerGO Heads-Up Championship, a 32-player bracket-style tournament with a $3.2 million prize pool
- Sept. 13-24: Poker Masters, a series of 12 tournaments with a “purple jacket” awarded to winners, reminiscent of that other “Masters”
- Sept. 26-28: Super High Roller Bowl, a PokerGO staple with a $300K buy-in
Photo by Shutterstock