Even as casinos worldwide tentatively reopen, the ongoing coronavirus outbreak is still taking its toll on the live poker community, as PokerStars postpones the Players Championship.
Back in late April, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in Las Vegas was postponed for the first time in its 50-year history.
And last week, when PokerStars followed suit by delaying its popular Players No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC), they also announced the delay of the European Poker Tour (EPT) Barcelona stop, until 2021 at the earliest.
Both the PSPC – a $25,000 buy-in tournament that PokerStars players worldwide can win free “Platinum Pass” entry into – and the EPT event were scheduled to take place throughout August at Casino Barcelona. However, in light of heightened coronavirus concerns related to the dynamics of live poker tournaments, PokerStars elected to play it safe and postpone both events.
Exec Cites Health and Player Safety in Explaining Postponement
In a statement posted to the PokerStars Blog on May 22, PokerStars’ director of poker innovation and operations Severin Rasset outlined the company’s motivations for making the move:
“It is with great sadness that we have decided to move the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC) 2020 and EPT Barcelona to 2021.
To that end, we have cancelled the Road to PSPC Cannes, Road to PSPC Madrid Torrelodones, and Manilla Super Series 14. We will keep you updated on the status of the other events currently scheduled on our live events calendar.
…We do know that the PSPC will be back bigger and better in 2021 at Casino Barcelona. Until then, we will focus on creating a life changing and memorable PokerStars experience for when we are safe and together again.
We realize that this news will come as a disappointment to many, but we know you will understand and appreciate why this is necessary. Our priority is the safety and good health of all our players and staff, as well as the communities that host such large events.”
To players who planned to enter the PSPC directly, or those who have already won their Platinum Pass, wondering when the 2021 edition might take place, Rasset couldn’t confirm a firm timeline:
“While we cannot provide exact dates at this time, we do know that the PSPC will be back bigger and better in 2021 at Casino Barcelona.
Until then, we will focus on creating a life changing and memorable PokerStars experience for when we are safe and together again.”
Platinum Pass Count Increases as PokerStars Gets Creative
The first PSPC was held in 2019, when Spanish recreational player Ramón Colillas turned a Platinum Pass earned via PokerStars Spain leaderboard into a $5.1 million first-place payout.
Colillas outlasted a field of 1,029 players and prevailed against a final table which included successful professionals such as Scott Baumstein (4th place for $1,657,000) and Farid Jattin (7th place for $746,000).
Platinum Passes are awarded in various ways worldwide through a variety of means. Ways to earn a Platinum Pass range from PokerStars leaderboards, to special live tournaments held at select casinos in American states where the site isn’t permitted to operate, and even social media popularity contests.
After winning a Platinum Pass, players receive a PSPC entry worth $25,000, plus $1,250 in expenses, hotel accommodations for two at a 5-star hotel, and paid airport transfers fees.
According to Rasset, PokerStars plans to continue its Platinum Pass push by expanding the previously scheduled count and adding more ways to win:
“In the coming months, we will bring you even more ways to win a Platinum Pass for the 2021 event.
We plan on making it a true celebration when the time is right.
And, while the plan was always to exceed the 320 Platinum Passes gifted to players in the inaugural record-breaking PSPC, we can now announce a further 80 Passes, bringing the total to 400.”
Events Cancelled? PokerStars Continues to Act
PokerStars has postponed the Players Championship and cancelled upcoming events due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve continued to hold virtual events. In May, celebrities like Hank Azaria, Lisa Kudrow, John Hamm and a host of other celebrities raised over $1million for charity in an online poker tournament.