In the pokerfuse podcast this week, Nick and Mike once again bring you three top stories from the world of online poker.

To kick off the show, the surprise announcement of the closure of MPN is discussed. The pair talk about the reasons behind the closure, the future of poker at Microgaming, implications for the industry, impact to players, and who the main beneficiaries may be.

In the second segment, Mike brings us the latest from Pennsylvania, where casinos and sports are live but poker remains pending. Still, we have more teaser information on what a PokerStars launch might look like, with a behind-the-curtains look at a potential launch MTT schedule.

And finally, Nick brings us the latest in PokerStars’ ramp up to the PSPC, with new details on the global Moneymaker tour, the companion French tour, and the MEGAPATH online satellites.


Full Transcript

Mike: Hello, and welcome, everybody to the Pokerfuse podcast. It is September 26, 2019. This is episode number 29. I’m your host Mike Gentile along with my co-host Nick Jones. Today on the podcast, after 16 years, Microgaming has announced that it’s closing its poker network, MPN. We discuss what this means for players, for its skins and the industry as a whole.

While online casinos and sports book in Pennsylvania have enjoyed their first full month in the regulated market, we still have no online poker, but we have more exclusive details on what the markets first online poker room might look like, when it finally comes online. Finally, PokerStars has confirmed the return of the Moneymaker Road To The PSPC Tour with eight stops across four countries over the next three months.

The Microgaming Poker Network is closing its doors

Nick: After a 16-year run, Microgaming, the business-to-business supplier of casino poker software to some of the largest online casinos in the world has announced that it is closing its online poker network, MPN. It is one of the longest running networks that the industry has had. The news was met with a fair amount of surprise and sadness both from players and many in the industry.

Mike: Yes, I was shocked. It’s something that it’s hard to see coming for a company like Microgaming or like the MPN network. Because they’re so diversified with their different skins that they have on there. It’s hard to know how the network is doing as a whole. It’s not the same as some of the other online poker companies where you can look at a particular jurisdiction where they operate and get an idea from the regulator of what kind of revenue they’re generating in that market.

MPN was on the dot-com market. There was no particular regulator that was reporting revenue. As I mentioned before, their success and ultimately their failures were distributed throughout the network of poker skins on their network.

Nick: I think maybe it just speaks to the theory that Microgaming, ultimately, as their customers are the online casinos and online poker. As well, they have a few online poker first or exclusive skins on there. That their job is providing this service to the skins. They will take a cut of rake-generated. They’re providing that software and they are offering this centralized network and player pool to these casinos.

What this is saying is ultimately it’s not worthwhile for their business to offer that. That’s surprising because poker is seen as such a key way to both bring new customers to brands. Who might then ultimately be cross-sold into high value games like the casino, but also just being able to offer poker so that you retain a customer. If they want to play poker, you can retain them on their brand.

It’s always seen as something that a company like Microgaming would always continue to offer, even if it’s not particularly profitable for them just so that they have that service to offer to their customers. What they’re basically saying is that, they’ve looked at the numbers and it’s not worthwhile.

Mike: Yes, it’s surprising to me as well, that they’re able to— you would think that the biggest part of their overhead is the software and that they have to bear the burden on their own. A lot of the marketing costs, the promotional costs, that falls on the operator itself and not on the network. It’s surprising to me that they couldn’t make those numbers work.

Nick: Yes. What’s interesting, actually, is that I think MPN as a network, has taken on more recently in terms of investing in the network itself. In terms of communication, I think back a few years and they left that entirely to their skins to communicate with players to get the message out to their policy decisions were never publicized. That changed fairly recently with the MPN blog was really candid in talking about policy changes and decisions. With Alex Scott himself who is head of poker at Microgaming on social media, on poker forums, on his personal blog as well. Talking about issues, talking about the network. They really put the network more front and center rather than deferred that to the skin themselves. They do run sitting network-wide promotions, network-wide guarantee tournament series like UCOP which bizarrely was underway I think it’s still underway now. The time they announced that the network was closing, their biggest tournament series they’ve ever had. They run live stops as well. Battle of Malta has been MPN sponsor tour for a long time. That’s still running next month.

They do take on some burns themselves in terms of that marketing, PR, and communication. But you are right in the sense of, they’ve invested a lot into the software. In the last two years, they launched this whole new client called Prima. Which is really good considering how fast they turn this around. They’re still I think rolling it out, like formally deploying it and sunsetting their old software now. They only really got like a year run of this new software and this big push. Obviously, they look to the numbers and saw that it wasn’t enough of a bump for them to continue sustaining it, to continue running it.

Mike: The other part that surprises me is, we hear throughout the industry that poker is this low-cost player acquisition tool. As you pointed out earlier, to feed into the higher-margin games and to see that not work. I just wonder what they’re doing different or what factors went into making that formula different for the network model than some of the standalone operators.

Nick: When they look at the cost it’s not just the question of how much it keeps for them to run it. Even if it’s loss-making, not having poker at all, not being able to offer poker to their customers is also a detriment to their business. If we look at one of their biggest clients is Betsson. They have four or five skins on MPN. They’re primarily a sportsbook and casino operator but they have Betsson, Betsafe, NordicBet, maybe one or two others, they offer online poker.

They have said along with all other partners, they’ve said that they plan to still offer poker. They will be going to a competitor of Microgaming. We can get into more on this later but maybe they will go to Playtech and the iPoker network. Now they’re going into that ecosystem. Maybe they’re going to be encouraged to offer more Playtech products on the side. This is a big decision to decide that even if it costs us to run, it’s not worthwhile.

We are going to allow. They’re basically saying, “We’re going to keep the network running for the next six months to facilitate our customers transitioning to another product.” Which ultimately could be a competitor. This is why it really is so surprising to see and so disappointing after the investment they take to create a poker product that is now going to as we understand, it is going to die, the Prima software.

Unless something big happens like someone comes along and buys it. From my understanding, it is going to be shut. That’s a real shame. That all that work has gone in and will ultimately be closed so soon after. From a numbers perspective, it’s very surprising that Microgaming made that call at the corporate level.

Mike: Alex Scott has been out and about putting bits of information out on social media and the forums and such. I know Nick that you had a chance to talk to him. One of the questions that I had was, I think the initial press release that came out said that Microgaming would continue to offer poker in some format. I think I read on the forums, Alex seemed to evade that question a bit or couldn’t provide any additional information I think is more accurate. I was wondering when you had the chance to communicate with him, did you get a sense for what the future holds for poker at Microgaming?

Nick: I can answer that question in a more roundabout way of what my impression is based on everything that I’ve read, and people that I’ve talked to on this topic. I agree that it’s not particularly clear cut and there’s nothing on the record either way. They said when they released the press release that the poker will continue at the network. It’s going to be under a very different guise.

They have said that they will help all their customers transition to other networks. Putting it all together, I honestly can’t really see what poker would look like under this situation. I’ve seen some people comment that maybe Microgaming he’s going to offer something directly to consumers. That just doesn’t make sense as I understand Microgaming’s business. They do not do that in any situation. I don’t understand why that would happen. It is my understanding that the Prima software will be closed. Unless somebody else picks it up and ultimately, license it or buys it from Microgaming, I think they have no plans for that to continue. If they are happy to lose what I think is 16 or 17 companies, online poker offers lose it to a competitor, I can’t really see what the future holds in poker with Microgaming. For those who understand it, I don’t think they are going to be rolling something out anytime soon.

For me, it’s somewhere on they wanted to say something positive. They said that poker is not over in Microgaming to they do have some distant plan, which involves, all I can think is they can offer poker to their customers, but not offer a centralized network. They will say yes, here’s poker you can offer poker if you like. Using our software, the old or the new software, but not to tell them that it will be integrated into a centralized network with a player pool with other customers of ours. It’s the only real way I can see Microgaming as their business is, what that would entail.

If they have that ready to go, then this announcement would be okay, we’re going to stop having a centralized network, but all our customers can continue using our software and license it from us. They’re not saying that so they are happy to cut ties with all these people. I really would be surprised if we source a program of Microgaming in the near future under any kind of guise that it is now.

Mike: I wonder, I’m thinking what could Microgaming as a company do with the software platform that they’ve developed because it’s pretty robust. It’s definitely, not maybe perhaps the top software platform out there, but it’s not far from it. It’s got a lot of innovative features. It’s newly developed, it’s modern, it’s got a gaming look and feel that I think will be popular with consumers.

Maybe they do have plans. Maybe they were clearing the decks in order to introduce it into one of the regulated markets. Maybe the US, maybe Southern Europe, I’m not sure. I would think though, that that is an asset that somebody could come in, pick up, and probably turn around.

Nick: Maybe there is something like that in the works and that’s the reason why they’ve cut ties because they have something lined up. Everything that I’ve heard that isn’t the case, but I hope to be proven wrong because I think the software was very interesting. I think what they did was took the industry in a good direction. I think a lot of the ideas we’ve already seen adopted by other operators.

It also was built on ideas that other operators have done but it was very much part of that conversation part of that trend. Part of that development that we’ve seen moving towards more recreational friendly software. I think they had a lot of good ideas in terms of building from a single codebase for yes, just creating like a friendly, fun software.

Where they really only added features that would be benefiting all forms of customers, not just pros or not just casual players. It’s a real shame to go. I hope I’m wrong there and that something will be done. Again, if we look at the skins, who they’re losing, it’s interesting to think where they might go over the next six months. I think iPoker will be probably the biggest beneficiary of this decision. Because it’s really the only other option that a lot of these skins have.

I don’t think most of them can go independent. Potentially, the only one that could is Betsson say they have four or so skins. My guess is that they make up a large proportion of the player base. They could go independent. Of course, potentially, maybe a few of their skins said and this is me entirely guessing here, said that they were going to close their poker room.

MPN realized that they couldn’t survive without those customers, and got ahead of it and ended it. If there was one that could be that, it would be Betsson. I think they are pretty large on the network. I think they could be the dominant portion of the player pool. With that said, if that’s not the case, then we can absolutely see them go independent.

In fact, that company owns Europe-Bet which is a Georgia-based online poker room which is independently run the same software that bets on board a couple of years ago. They’ve kept them separate up till now. If they wanted to invest in poker, their smart move would be skinning that software, creating a single-player pool and running all their bets on Betsafe players on that software. Which I haven’t got much experience with but I feel is fairly stable offer. I think that Europe-bet software is pretty solid and their player pool is pretty solid so that’s an option they’ve got. A lot of the others they added to poke skins this year, part— what are they called? Not part-time poker— players first poker and another one. That didn’t really cause a bump in traffic adding them. They are going to be very small skins. I can’t really see them doing anything other than going to maybe iPoker or potentially GG Network I guess.

That is quite a different kind of fish in terms of product offer I would say. We could see Playtech iPoker really benefiting here through no— I don’t know, skill of their own the last network standing and that is a network that really has done nothing over the last two years when you compare it with MPN. The two are fairly similar in size. MPN embarked two or so years ago on this total revamp and from my eyes, from the outside look successful. iPoker, on the other hand, has done almost nothing. I think is set to significantly benefit from this change.

Mike: Bottom line then for players is funds are safe. They going to be able to continue at least for the short term to have access to the poker room that they’ve signed up at and process their withdraws. Is that correct?

Nick: Yes, I think that’s definitely what the network has said. Everyone’s funds are not kept at the network level. They’re kept at the individual skins but my cream has said this announcement really shouldn’t change anything. It’s just business as usual with the network. Many of these skins will continue to run on MPN until they’re ready to transition to another. In theory, it could be one day it switches over and you have new software to play on and now you’re an iPoker or GG Network or something.

That’s the punchline. The only thing that I would say, and again this is purely my speculation, is if any of the small skins were in financial trouble, that would come out now because they are forced to make a decision. Again, there is no suggestion that that is the case in any skin. I would be pretty confident and if I had money on one of these sites that there is no problems to have, but the skins themselves are responsible for your money, not the network.

If a skin did happen to have financial problems and now they’re forced to make this move, we’ve seen it before where skin’s forced to move on to now the networks. That can often highlight some issues at that company. There is I suppose that possibility but I don’t really think players have too much to worry but if you’re playing on an MPN skin. At some point, you will not be playing on an MPN skin.

You might want to make the decision with your money, whether you want to wait to see what happens. If you’re particularly comfortable with a brand, stick with them and see where they go. If you’re with say a Betsson skin as a big public company, you like that brand, maybe you also play the casino and the sports book and whatnot, then stay with them and see what they do for poker next year.

They could be a big push and a big marketing drive when they launch on another network or launch their own network so stick around and see. If you’re with the skin and you’re just there because they had a good sign up promotion and you’re not particularly enameled with it or not particularly excited to stick with them, maybe the time you yourself to stop there and find a new home ahead of time.

With that said, MPN is still running UCOP now, they still have their live events. They say there still be promotions, but we will probably see over the next six months a winding down in the skins will one after the other start transitioning to new homes. Over time, we’re going to see naturally traffic decline. I’d be surprised if they run another UCOP early next week. You can make that step yourself as a player and find a new home ahead of time if you want.

What might the PokerStars MTT schedule in Pennsylvania look like?

Mike: The state of Pennsylvania has released its first full month of revenue figures for interactive gaming, which is currently just online table games and slots. While nothing has been really surprising in what was revealed through those numbers. One thing that is surprising in the market is that there is still no online poker.

Nick: Yes, so we’re talking— there’s online sportsbooks as well and then casino games.

Mike: Yes, online lottery, casino games, and even DFS as well but the interactive gaming consists of slots, table games and poker.

Nick: Obviously, poker is still the standout that with no operators live yet. We’ve talked on this podcast a lot in the past about how we think PokerStars will be next, and I think a couple of weeks ago we revealed or maybe last week we revealed a bit of information about what we think the PokerStars offer will be and I spied on Pokerfuse this week. We have even more information. Mike, can you give us a top line here, what we know?

Mike: What we revealed this week was, we took a look at some of the tournament offerings that we suspect will be part of the launch when PokerStars goes live in Pennsylvania. Based on some of our sleuthing, done by Anuj, we have some idea of the types of tournaments that will be offered the Sunday majors for examples, the dailies, the guarantees, the buy-ins. A lot of those things. We have some preliminary information that we can say this is what it looks like they’re going to be offering at launch.

Nick: Yes, you like to stress every time. This is us doing some digging around with it. PokerStars itself has revealed no information directly to us or publicly and of course, this information may well change ahead of launch, but it does seem from what we can see from pre-launch clients, some realistic schedules that they’ve put out for the first few weeks of online poker could be.

Obviously, the standout here, Mike, is that we’ve done a nice comparison to what they have in New Jersey, which is a similar market in there for PokerStars, it’s entirely segregated. It’s slightly smaller but in the same order of magnitude. We’re certainly seeing that they are perhaps more aggressive with their Pennsylvania schedules than what they have in New Jersey today.

Mike: Yes, there’s definitely some of the tournament’s that have bigger guarantees and smaller buy-ins. Looking down the list of the ones that we’ve detected. The one that first jumps out at me is the Sunday warm-up. In New Jersey, it’s a $50 buy-in for 4k guarantee. In Pennsylvania, it looks like it’s going to be a $30 buy-in for 7.5 almost double guarantee than the one that happens in New Jersey.

Nick: I guess the question is, do you think this is just PokerStars happy to maybe have some overlays at the start of the launch? Whereas in New Jersey, they want to have more of a sustainable kind of business or do you think from day one, because it’s a new market, because there’s a high population, and because they will probably be the only online poker provider that they expect more people to turn out on day one and then what they’ve achieved in New Jersey for the first few years?

Mike: I think it’s a couple of things. I think there’s definitely a promotional aspect to this, where they want to hit the ground running quickly. Especially with the first-mover advantage that we expect they’re going to have being fresh out of the gate and first out of the gate in that market. I think that plays into it. I think the population— though yes, they’re relatively similar.

I think it is still a notch above what New Jersey has. I think that that plays into it as well. With more of a population, you can afford to bump a guarantee, because you expect that there’s going to be more potential players. I think it’s quite a mix of things. It’ll be interesting to see if things get settled with the wire act. How things then change because not only will the PokerStars Pennsylvania, buy-ins and guarantees probably look different, but when you add in New Jersey as well, you may see a small change, small but better change to the tournaments in Pennsylvania.

I would expect that the people in New Jersey will see a significant bump as that you add in the entire population of Pennsylvania. That’s a while often we still don’t have any reason to believe that it’s going to happen right away but looking a little bit further down the road I think that’s probably something that players can expect in both states.

Nick: Remind us, Mike, so we have online casinos now live in Pennsylvania. Is PokerStars one of them or a PokerStars partner and will that help them when they launch online poker to connect to an existing customer base? Or is PokerStars coming in entirely fresh into the market?

Mike: Yes, they’re going to be coming in fresh. Their partner Mount Airy is still on the sidelines. They’re not going to have the benefit of— perhaps if they had had a partner that has already started building a large interactive gaming customer base. They won’t be able to take advantage of that but I think as we saw in New Jersey when they got there, they push pretty hard with the marketing and I expect that they’re going to do that as well in Pennsylvania. Even though that could have been something that could have boosted their participation early on, I think there’s other ways for them to make sure that they get a solid foot forward when they do eventually launch in Pennsylvania.

Nick: It’s actually interesting, this is going on a bit of attention but just reflecting now, it’s perhaps surprising that PokerStars has not used its daily fantasy sports product at all in preparation for the United States. They bought that site which was called Victiv like three or four years ago, it was, unfortunately, time because it was purchased just before pretty wide industry clamp down on unlicensed daily fantasy sports.

The industry has since moved towards regulation and DraftKings and FanDuel will stuck around. Victiv at the time was like unclear number three in the market. I think PokerStars bought it, rebranded it to StarsDraft and then basically withdrew from all but a couple of markets. I think it’s dormant now. I couldn’t say but the answer you have the opportunity there is to launch it into the regulated Pennsylvania DFS market which was almost 18 months old and then they would have a pretty strong interactive gaming player base to tap into. Obviously, they chose not to take that route.

Mike: Correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t they really clamp down on where they were offering their DFS product soon after a lot of the crap hit the fan if you will?

Nick: Yes, that’s it. They literally withdrew from all the two states, I think, in the United States. Since then, I think basically, died. Obviously, you can’t operate in such a small player base.

Mike: I could be speaking out of turn here. I’m not entirely sure. If I recall correctly, I think that they may have actually realized other benefits from that acquisition. I think it may have turned out to be more of a talent acquisition because I think some of the people that were running Victiv before it was bought up by PokerStars have then transitioned over to their sports betting side and may even be running FOX Bet.

Nick: They’ve definitely used the staff. They first use them to launch a DFS product in the European markets called Sports Jackpots or Bet Stars jackpots. That seemed to disappear soon after they launched it. I remember at the time, they said that they use their knowledge that they had from the Victiv acquisition. Then as you say, absolutely for the FOX Bet thing, they again stated the same thing.

A lot of that skill acquisition was used, but even, I was actually just looked up, they actually reduced stars draft just to just four markets within a couple of months of acquiring it. I think it’s the four markets that were very clearly explicitly legal to top rate in the United States. They obviously have the opportunity to maybe revive it say in Pennsylvania. They were eight or nine DFS operators in Pennsylvania. Although DraftKings and FanDuel represent 98% of the market, there are still smaller operators still carving out their own thing.

PokerStars will have a database of place they would have acquired through that. It’s a little surprising that they didn’t decide to resuscitate it in Pennsylvania ahead of launching it because we seen DraftKings and FanDuel really switch from what the previous conversation we had about poker being an acquisition to these DFS operators have stated to their investors that their player base it can be utilized as the regulated sports betting market it grows in the US and that’s why we’re seeing them really perhaps not dominate but perform very well in the regulated sports markets. They’ve been entered so far in New Jersey being one of them.

Mike: Another thing that I guess is surprising is, in a similar way to what we talked about last segment, where you’re going to have the skins or the operators for micro gaming having their customers need to go somewhere else or potentially need to go somewhere else for poker, I think the same concept holds true for FOX Bet. The Stars Group runs FOX Bet which is online sports betting.

There is a particular or significant amount of crossover between sports betting and fantasy sports. I’m surprised from that aspect that they are allowing their customers to go over to a competitor that may offer both to get their fantasy fix if you will. That’s a bit surprising. Perhaps they looked at it and they thought, maybe that one would cannibalize the other. That could be an issue.

I know that liquidity is a thing for daily fantasy sports especially if you want to hit those big prize pools, those headline-making prize pools. There’s a bit of build up that needs to happen. It does strike me as strange that they would not have daily fantasy sports as an offering and risk allowing their customers to go to a competitor.

Nick: Yes and we’ve analyzed the DFS numbers coming from the regulator to Pennsylvania for the last 16 months and that’s the first window into getting unbiased, clear market data. I think it’s a fair market a representative of the United States is that it is not a market that is dying and quite the contrary. We’ve seen, although it’s tough because obviously the market only opened 16 months ago, the few months that we’ve got for year over year comparisons show the market is up 30%, 40%, even 50% over the prior year.

We might be seeing again as we’re talking about these operators pump more into the DFS product ahead of regulation, but they’re companies doing a lot of revenue in DFS every month. There is still a lot of customers very interested in that as a product.

Mike: This may be down the line, but PokerStars has not been one to shy away from innovation. I wouldn’t be surprised if there would be an appetite for some hybrid of DFS in poker. I know that there’s been tournaments that players have challenged each other at in the past that have combined different gaming formats and perhaps this is an issue with regulation.

I would think that there’s a significant amount of crossover between those two customer bases as well, that they may be able to utilize something that’s, or offer some type of game that perhaps their competitors in the DFS sphere would not be able to offer, because they don’t have the online-poker platform to combine it with.

Nick: Yes, absolutely. Well, there you have it. Keep your eyes on Pokerfuse. We’ve got some great content coming up on the topic of Pennsylvania and PokerStars and maybe one week in this podcast, in the not too distant future we’ll be talking about that it’s actually gone live, but until that point keep an eye on the website in this podcast for more information when we’ve got it.

PSPC latest, Platinum Pass giveaways, and how online MEGAPATH satellites might be the best value route

In the podcast last week, we had a segment talking about the end of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and we segued a little bit into talking about the PSPC and some of the routes that PokerStars have to winning a Platinum Pass to go to the PSPC next year. Over the last seven days we’ve had more information come out of PokerStars. It’s still a bit a scattergun and hard to piece together so we’re hoping in this segment we can clarify a bit about how some of the routes that PokerStars is announcing, because honestly there are so many it’s hard to keep tabs on them all.

Mike: Yes and we’re preparing some content for Pokerfuse and we’re looking at how do we organize all these ways to win a Platinum Pass into the PSPC. We can organize it by live versus online poker versus non-poker ways. We could organize it by date. It’s just there’s so many and you have different people with different intentions or different preferences as to how they would like to compete for one of these Platinum Passes. It’s made it difficult on a number of levels to keep track of them all.

Nick: Yes. The thing that has been announced, which I think we probably touched on last week, this was not news to us, but they have released a lot more details around Moneymakers Road to The PSPC. We know the inaugural PSPC, the Moneymaker Tour was a United States only kind of local grassroots feel tour for very cheap entry tournament’s in lots of small locations around the US, where the winner would win a Platinum Pass.

It was certainly heralded as a great success. They had thousands of people go to these tournaments. I think dozens of Platinum Passes were given away. Obviously, the first PSPC was in the Caribbean, so made a lot of sense to focus on the US market in that way. Next year’s it’s going to be in Barcelona, in Spain and again, it makes sense that The Moneymaker Road to PSPC has a much more global appeal, and that’s what we’ve seen.

We knew that the first stop on the Moneymaker Road to PSPC was going to be in Sochi in Russia and that is happening next month, but PokerStars announced that they were going to be eight in total over the next three months I think spanning the United States. It is going back to the US. There will be stops in Nevada, Florida and California all over the next two or three months. There’s going to be one in Dublin, Ireland and there will be three in the in the UK, and that’s all between other than the one in California, they all between now and mid December. That’s a lot. That’s a lot of live stops that they’re announcing in fairly short timeframes that are going to be and there’s going to be a Platinum Pass given away at each one.

Mike: I would assume that Chris will actually be on the tour for all the stops?

Nick: Yes, that is the implication. It said it’s, on the PokerStars blog, it’s called Poker Tour part road trips. I think they’re going to be utilizing him a lot to cover a lot of ground. Again, the information is, perhaps rushed a little bit, and I’m getting this information out that we’re gleaning some information from, some from, some from and even the regional PokerStars sites all have different information, not contradictory, but just using your all to build up a picture.

There’s one video that we saw on, there’s a 32nd little teaser video for the Moneymaker Tour and it very clearly shows that this is going to be going to Canada and Brazil, there is a big Christ the Redeemer picture in one of the stills from the video. That hasn’t been announced yet, they’re only focused on the next three months, but it very much seems that it will be covering North and South America and large parts of Europe on this tour.

Mike: He’s going to be getting his frequent flyer miles accumulated, that’s for sure. Looking at the stops that they have announced, and you probably have them right there in front of you, Nick. I’m just going off my recollection of what you had read off. Sochi, obviously, Russia is a big poker market, so I definitely see the draw there. There’s three stops that they’ve mentioned in the US, Florida, California, and Nevada all have big live card rooms. Their poker is big in all three of those states.

The one that stands out as a potential missing or more likely will be a later announcement will probably be Pennsylvania, New Jersey, somewhere in that area. They’re going to want to tap in especially because they can link it to their online poker presence as well. Poker is pretty big in the northeast, so I would expect that there will be a stop announced there later.

Then as you say, Canada, Canada is a really big poker market, and maybe because of its proximity to those northeast states there that they may look to coordinate, perhaps some type of triangle where they’re going to have those a player could travel somewhere in short distance to multiple stops on the tour. What are the other stops that are in Europe specifically? Do they have any particular flavor to them or are they mostly markets that have established poker presence?

Nick: Well, this is where things get interesting. The only other ones that you didn’t announce, that you didn’t mention that have been announced are the UK and Ireland. Effectively, four different casinos in the UK will be utilized between now and November, although only three stops, it’s a bit confusing. They we’re going to have a day one in Milton Keynes, which then will finish in Aspers Casino in London. Then they have another stop in the Hippodrome in London where the PokerStars card room is, and in Aspers Casino in Newcastle.

They have stops there and then one in Dublin, Ireland as well. What’s interesting here is that, I should first say that what they’re doing for UK customers is, you can win a satellite and then use your entry ticket to visit any of the ones in the UK, which is kind of cool. You can obviously go to one that’s near you. What is interesting is that the road to the PSPC is not just one road but multiple.

They have a completely separate road to the PSPC that is not fronted by Moneymaker, it is fronted by—and I may be pronouncing his name wrong, so I apologize, Kalidou Sow, who is a new French PokerStars ambassador. He won a platinum pass and attended the PSPC in the Bahamas in January. He didn’t make the money but he is, I believe a professional poker player. He’s had a lot of success on the live tour in France. I think he’s done well at the winner max tour as well.

He’s a new ambassador and he is fronting a tour that is France focused and Belgium. Right now, I believe there is an event in Belgium where he is president and a platinum pass will be given away. There are two more stops in France also in the next couple of months that will be he’ll be president at. That stop is you probably already know about if you really browse around the folks are so it’s all you’re in France because it’s on the French side is promoted quite a lot and there are similarly there are a centralized there where you can then use to go to a stop in France. They’ve decided not to use Moneymaker maybe because they felt they couldn’t make Moneymaker go to every single one of these stops, but they have another ambassador for the French market.

I wouldn’t be surprised at all that again, in Spain, they have we talked about this in the podcast prior they have the CEP, which Ramon Colillas will be kind of the face of. They have this multi-pronged even on their live tour. Then of course, on top of that we have say EPT, Prague in December, presumably one or more Platinum passes will be given away there, but that doesn’t seem to be part of the Moneymaker Tour. Lots of different strands to put together certainly.

Mike: One thing that jumped out at me when you were talking about the stops for the Moneymaker Tour, and the other roads, the PSPC is only one stop in Ireland. Poker is pretty popular in Ireland, and it strikes me that what was it, Galloway, that they used to have the Irish poker open?

Nick: Yes, you’re right. Yes.

Mike: That to me had a very Moneymaker feel to it. It was a party. It was a celebration. It was people going out and having fun playing and low stakes games with the chance to win some big money. I’m a bit surprised that they’re not building on the reputation that they’ve built there over the years.

Nick: Well, it’s we’re only talking about the schedule for the next three months. The weather’s pretty terrible in Ireland over the winter. Maybe they’re holding that off the spring, summertime. Let’s say they’ve still got 10 months. This is just the beginning. My last count, it’s 17 or 18 stops so the next three months, we are confirmed at least one Platinum pass will be given away. That’s a pretty big start. We’ve obviously already had five given away in Barcelona last month.

They’ve hit the ground running, and I think as we talked about last week, they hit the ground running so fast that I feel maybe the PR team can’t keep up with, and the website team can’t quite keep up with this level of information. They’ve got this really cool, interactive map where you can see all the Platinum past winners, but it’s quite out of date because they’re doing like little pictures of everybody in a little bio of everyone who wins. Keeping that up to date when you’re giving out so many so frequently is a tall order.

We seem getting a little bit behind that pledges gives us the job of trying to put it together for you say, yes, no problems there. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw more in Ireland. It sounds like this Moneymaker Tour. Yes, it’s definitely UK and Ireland focused. Maybe we’ll see,— I’m just trying to think. It sounds like it’s cleaner south tour is going to be. We’ve got France and Belgium. Italy is got the IPOs. Spain has got the CEP. I’m just trying to think where else it could visit. Obviously and yes, Sochi is tied in because there’s an EPT open event. They’re just kind of lumping in. I should say the one in Nevada is also branded Run It Up Reno. That one we will have Jason.

Mike: They did that last year too. They combined Run It Up Reno with Moneymaker Tour if I’m not mistaken. That’s one of the actually— I believe that was one of the more popular stops of the tour last year. The Jason always puts on a class series over there and it’s actually grown to become quite popular. For me, it’s one of the I don’t have a bucket list, but if I did for poker, that would definitely be on it. It just it has that fun, festive feeling that it’s definitely something I hope to be checking out soon.

Nick: Yes, and again, going back to just this quick timeframe, if you wanted to attend that you’ve got a barely over two weeks to get there. It’s October 16th. It is running so yes, they’re not leaving a lot of times people would want to travel to these events, but I guess that’s not the idea. The idea is for people who are perhaps already based there, I suppose. We should probably finish this segment just touching on the online portion of these Platinum passes because one thing you could say is that there definitely seems to be more focus on live. Organizing an over a dozen, how many did I say 15, 16, 17 live events over the next three months is a pretty tall order.

We’ve seen obviously some things happening online but perhaps less and it was maybe a bit surprising that we didn’t see any Platinum passes given away UCOP which is just concluded. There was no one for the leaderboard prize there. There was nothing given away randomly. There was nothing to the winner of the main event which I’m quite sure they did a year ago. PokerStars have just announced the NJ coupe tournament series in the New Jersey market and again, no talk about a leaderboard at all. There are no Platinum Passes which they again did last year. Now, it might be the PokerStars feels that it’s a bit too early online to be giving out a Platinum Pass for an event that’s 11 months away or whatever. It’s still perhaps somewhat surprising. The one thing they are doing right now is the Mega Pass. That seems to be the big push online. I saw on Pokerfuse, we had an article about this might be the best way that you can win a Platinum Pass. I saw that there have been some overlays and some of these satellites

Mike: The Mega Pass has definitely been something that has been underutilized let’s call it because maybe it’s early days with the PSPC and the Platinum Passes and there just hasn’t been the type of attention that we may expect to see toward the end of the promotional push or as the actual date gets closer. It’s definitely one of the top ways that people could get in and get a chance to win one of these Platinum Passes valued at 30k.

Nick: Just saying some of the notes that we’ve got here in the article. They have one every Sunday is the final where they guarantee that they’ll give away one Platinum Pass. The one on September 8th and you have 19 runners. If you made it through your three steps, which again, you can start your journey for free or for $2. I think step two is $2 entry.

You then move forward to an MTT. If you get through that you would have been only one of 19 people fighting over a Platinum Pass which we calculated like an 18 grand overlay. The week after that just 25 entrance so 12 grand overlay. I think just going back to what we said at the start about how maybe they are, it just got too much going on to promote. If you’re a player interested in going to this tournament and you absolutely should be because the first one was really quite incredible from a lot of perspectives. Right now, 10 months out, folks are still trying to ramp up. There is a lot of value in these satellites right now.

Mike: It’s not something that’s going to continue as the word gets out. The overlays will undoubtedly shrink. I would suggest getting in now while you still can. If you’re looking at where to get in and how to get in. Check out Pokerfuse. We’ll have the information there that you need. Who knows you may end up winning a Platinum Pass.


Well, that wraps up this episode of the Pokerfuse podcast. As a reminder, please give us a like and a subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. You can also follow us and interact with us on Twitter. Nick is at @pokerprojones. I am @SpookyBugs.. Thanks, everyone for tuning in.