Online poker network iPoker is holding the inaugural iPoker Festival, a new online tournament series that coincides with the other major online tournament series this spring.
The iPoker Festival started on April 28 with a 40-event schedule spread over ten days. In total, €400,000 is guaranteed in prize money across the series, culminating in a €100 buy-in Main Event with a €100k guarantee on May 7.
The new series is dubbed simply Festival—though iPoker skin William Hill will brand it the William Hill Series of Poker (WHSOP), PokerStrategy reports—and likely means the end of iPOPS, the network’s flagship tournament series that traditionally ran in the spring and fall.
Since its inception in 2011, iPOPS always guaranteed at least €1 million for the schedule (or $1 million before the network switched to Euros in 2014), and a main event between €250k and €500k. Initially, the series was just four or five events, but the schedule later grew to around 15. Its later incarnations added a companion mini-series which doubled the schedule to 30+ events.
The inaugural Festival is therefore a significant reduction in guaranteed prize pools from the network, and is in stark contrast to the competition, each of which are promising “biggest ever” tournament series this month. PokerStars SCOOP guarantees are up almost 40% for 2017, 888’s next XL has grown 50%, and party’s Powerfest has almost doubled.
iPoker Online Tournament Series
|Series||When||Events||Currency||Main Event GTD||Total GTD||€ Total GTD*|
|iPOPS 2||Apr – May 2012||5||USD||500,000||1,000,000||745,000|
|iPOPS 3||Nov – Dec 2012||5||USD||550,000||1,000,000||770,000|
|iPOPS 4||Apr – May 2013||15||USD||500,000||1,245,000||970,000|
|iPOPS 5||Nov – Dec 2013||16||USD||400,000||1,200,000||890,000|
|iPOPS 6||Apr – May 2014||16||EUR||300,000||1,000,000||1,000,000|
|iPOPS 7||Oct – Nov 2014||15||EUR||300,000||1,000,000||1,000,000|
|iPOPS 8||Apr – May 2015||15||EUR||300,000||1,000,000||1,000,000|
|iPOPS 9*||Oct – Nov 2015||30||EUR||250,000||1,000,000||1,000,000|
|iPOPS 10*||Apr – May 2015||32||EUR||250,000||1,000,000||1,000,000|
|Festival 2017||Apr – May 2016||40||EUR||100,000||400,000||400,000|
The modest guarantees reflect a shift towards microstakes and low stakes buy-ins on the schedule. The majority of buy-ins are in the €10 to €50 range, with only four tournaments costing €100 and one “high roller” at €200.
The network has struggled to retain cash game traffic against the competition. Three years ago, the network could boast that it was second in the online poker industry, jostling with 888 in terms of cash game traffic.
However over the last three years, while 888 has managed to mostly retain its traffic, iPoker’s has waned; at approximately 1000 cash game seats today, it is almost half the size of 888, and over the last few months has also been passed by partypoker. With the recent introduction of Asia-focused IDN into the rankings, iPoker has slipped to fifth place in terms of international dot-com poker networks.
Network owner Playtech “remains dedicated” to the network, it recently stated during its full year financial presentation. However, it admitted that it remained a low margin vertical whose biggest benefit to its customers is the cross-sell potential.
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