When the World Poker Tour (WPT) DeepStacks series arrives in Valkenburg, Netherlands on October 9, the event will mark the first marriage of tournament poker and eSports.
Running through October 15, the upcoming WPT DeepStacks stop at Holland Casino will feature a concurrent eSports event hosted by ELC Gaming, the European arm of Allied Esports.
Both the WPT and Allied Esports are owned and operated by parent company Ourgame International.
Best known for running the “Big Betty” show-truck – which is billed as the world’s first 18-wheel mobile eSports arena – ELC Gaming organizes eSports live tournaments and oversees a dedicated live streaming channel.
ELC Gaming will host a multiday eSports festival which includes a virtual reality booth, a gaming lounge for casual players, and daily competitions. Among the various prizes on offer will be seats to various WPT DeepStacks tournaments, including the €1,100 Main Event which takes place from October 12-15.
Frank Ng, who serves as chief executive officer of Ourgame International, commented on the natural synergy between poker and eSports as part of a jointly issued press release:
“This is an inspiring time in both poker and esports, the two mindsports that have only begun to realize their enormous collaboration potential.
With prominent businesses in poker and esports, Ourgame is uniquely positioned to raise the bar with a new breed of events across the globe to give all of our players more of what they want.”
Adam Pliska, chief executive officer of the WPT, echoed those sentiments while pointing out that the poker and eSports communities often overlap:
“The World Poker Tour is proud to partner with ELC Gaming for this first international poker and esports venture.
The crossover between the poker and esports communities is undeniable, and the addition of a live esports event to one of the WPT’s live poker festivals is a perfect fit to provide an even greater experience for our players.
Backed by the support of Ourgame, the WPT looks forward to this being the first of many collaborations between the World Poker Tour and ELC Gaming.”
ELC Gaming’s chief operating officer Leon Groenewoud made it clear that sharing a parent company ensures the WPT is more than a standard corporate partner:
“We are delighted to be working with our sister company, the World Poker Tour, and Holland Casino to create the first-ever crossover experience between poker and esports.
We have seen firsthand the popularity in both industries grow exponentially, and I’m confident this partnership is a natural next step for players, fans, and business partners alike.
The connection between tournament poker and eSports has been well established by two-way professionals like Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier of France.
Between 2001 and 2004, Grospellier became one of the top-ranked Starcraft players in the world, winning the Euro Cyber Games in 2003 while racking up numerous podium finishes at the World Cyber Games.
Grospellier then transitioned successfully from eSports to poker, and one of his career highlights to date is a first-place finish at the WPT’s $15,400 Festa al Lago Main Event in 2008. That victory netted Grospellier $1,411,015 in winnings, and today he has amassed more than $13.5 million in lifetime tournament earnings.