In under two months, the live poker tournament world has seen four new records set in four different countries.
In mid-July, the 2014 PokerStars Beijing Millions set a rest-of-world record at 2,732 entries.
But that record lasted only weeks as the Grosvenor UK Poker Tour Goliath event attracted 3,394 players—the largest field ever for a tournament outside of the US.
And now action at the 100th EPT Barcelona is setting its own records. The PokerStars Estrellas Poker Tour Main Event recorded the largest field in European Poker Tour history with 2,560 players entered.
The events are impressive not just for their field sizes, but for the logistics accomplishment of getting dealers, tables and all the other necessities of managing a live event to go off without a hitch.
Big Money, Big Prizes
In response to the player interest, guarantees for events are increasing. Last year, the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open in Florida blazed the trail, setting a $10,000,000 guarantee on its $5,300 buy in Main Event. The eventual prize pool exceeded $12 million.
Not only is the guarantee being repeated for the 2014 event, but other tour operators have followed suit with the magic $10 million figure.
The addition of the Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT) grand final to next year’s PCA schedule should create one of the largest live events outside Las Vegas. Paradise Island in the Bahamas will be packed with poker players—those without the wherewithal to enter the main or high roller events will be well catered to with lower buy-in packages.
And not to be outdone, organizers at the WSOP have gone as far as to guarantee $10 million to the winner of its Main Event.
More Than Just Poker
Flying to an exotic location to play poker has been made much more enjoyable by the organizers improved ability to maximize players’ enjoyment away from the tables.
In May this year, French operator Winamax, accompanied its Winamax Poker Open (WPO) in Marrakech, Morocco with a five day festival of electro dance music. The €550 buy-in for the Main Event meant that the total cost of a week’s poker holiday was definitely within the grasp of a wide range of casual players.
The EPT is following suit. International star DJ Roger Sanchez is in Barcelona to help celebrate the 100th EPT event. A three-hour DJ set, and EPT players are invited to enjoy a free bar and access to a VIP area when the party kicks off.
Better organization, better marketing and better tournament formats have certainly had an impact. The increasing field sizes prove that what live event organizers are doing is working.