Breaking Down the Action:
  • PokerStars Take Sochi Out of the Spotlight  
  • When Does EPT Sochi Take Place?
  • Could Further European Poker Tournaments Suffer?

4 Minute Read

The escalating war between Russia and Ukraine has seen EPT Sochi postponed until October.

PokerStars have announced that the forthcoming EPT Sochi festival has been canceled with immediate effect ad will no longer take place in March.

With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine causing shock and condemnation across the globe, the popular stop on the European Poker Tour, which has been the destination for live EPTs on four of the last five occasions it has been played has been postponed until October, the poker giant said in a statement.

PokerStars Take Sochi Out of the Spotlight  

Postponing the event rather than cancelling it seems like a controversial call

With Sochi a former Olympic village, it had been hoped that the stunning gilt-lined corridors of Casino Sochi would be a throng of poker players in a few weeks’ time, with the initial dates scheduled for the festival being March 18th to the 27th.

The plans for the festival included some high-profile events, with the $2,000-entry EPT Sochi Main Event followed by a National EPT tournament, a high roller and the Sochi Cup, all of which will at least have to wait until October.

Postponing the event rather than cancelling it completely may seem like a controversial call with the sympathy that has poured from the poker industry to those affected by the Ukrainians plight, such as former PokerStars Team Pro and Ukrainian-American player Eugene Katchalov. But players who have qualified will want to play the event, so PokerStars has a responsibility of care to them also.

When Does EPT Sochi Take Place?

All bets are off as to how far the situation will escalate.

While PokerStars won’t be in the former Olympic village in March, plans are loosely set for the tournament to return to Russia in eight months’ time. It has been rescheduled to take place between October 1st – 10th later this year, with all EPT Sochi packages that have been won likely to be refunded or rescheduled should the players in question not be able to attend in October.

With Ukraine remaining under stack from Russia, led by President Vladimir Putin, all bets are off as to how far the situation will escalate and while the hope that October will see peace restored the region in the hope that EPT Sochi and other regular life events will resume in Russia, it looks hard to see how the tournament can genuinely be planned for until an end date to the fighting is foreseen.

With Russian and Ukrainian airspace alone off limits to anyone within 100 miles, the chances of a poker tournament where the world is welcomed back to Russia with open arms seems much further off than 30 weeks or so.

Could Further European Poker Tournaments Suffer?

Prague is not the only city that is looking to host an upcoming poker event.

It might not only be EPT Sochi that hits the rail. While there are few close countries that are looking to host tournaments in the very near future, the number of Ukrainian refugees descending on major cities close to Western borders with Ukraine.

It isn’t a long way from the furthest point west in Ukraine to cities such as Prague, Budapest or event Vienna, all of which have been major players on the poker scene for many years. EPT Prague starts in just one week’s time, on March 5th, where PokerStars will again look to resurrect the world’s biggest poker tour of years passed with a major 2022 tour stop.

Prague is not the only city that is looking to host an upcoming poker event. The Belgique Poker Masters in Bratislava is scheduled to take place in the Slovakian capital from today until March 7th and travel disruption and player worries may affect the turnout.

With many live events planned over the next few months, the hope that the war in Ukraine ends as soon as possible may primarily be a humanitarian wish, but the desire for normal life to resume includes the liberties of everyone in the area, including their leisure time.

 

Joseph Ellison

Joseph is a dedicated journalist and horse racing fanatic who has been writing about sports and casinos for over a decade. He has worked with some of the UK's top bookmakers and provides Premier League soccer tips on a regular basis. You'll likely find him watching horse racing or rugby when he isn't writing about sport.

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