Major live poker festivals in and near Europe remain on a widespread hiatus but that is expected to change in the weeks and months to come. Among the returning operators to host an event during the summer of 2021 is 888poker.
In cooperation with Casino Sochi, the next 888live Sochi takes place from July 17 to 26.
While the tournaments are expected to feature mostly local players, poker enthusiasts from all over the world can win packages for a trip to Sochi on the 888 online poker client. Satellites for the $888 Sochi Main Event and the 888poker Cup with a price tag of $444 are available.
It will be the third time in as many years that the 888live festival takes place at Casino Sochi in the Krasnaya Polyana region in Russia. Even during the times of the COVID-19 pandemic, the venue has hosted live poker tournaments on a regular basis. In the ongoing year, almost every month featured another festival in Sochi and there are sophisticated safety measures in place.
Certainly, the highlight of the upcoming third 888live Sochi edition is the $888 Main Event, which takes place from July 21 to 26. It features four starting days in total with a late registration of 15 levels and the best stack will be carried forward. Players can currently win a seat for this tournament in the Sunday qualifier on 888, satellites start for as little as $5.50.
In 2019, the first 888live Sochi Main Event drew 277 unique players and 192 re-entries for a prize pool of ₽30,573,508 (approximately $465k). The buy-in was cut down to $888 in a special edition in 2020 and a field of 245 players emerged, who re-entered 209 times. That created a prize pool of ₽12,197,150 ($160.1k) but it would be no surprise if these amounts would be surpassed in the current year.
Various Side Events are also part of the schedule including the two-day $1,888 High Roller, and the 888poker Cup. The latter runs from July 17 to 21 and features a buy-in of $444 with five starting days at disposal for the participants.
It will be the first time since September 2020 that the operator will be involved in a live poker festival under its own brand. Back then, the 888poker LIVE Poker Weekend in Sochi and 888live Tallinn took place concurrently. The popular mid-stakes circuit was also slated to host its tour at the Aspers Casino in London a few months later but the festival was postponed due to the ongoing pandemic.
In 2021 so far, 888 focused almost entirely on its online poker operations. The MTT schedule received a major overhaul. The operator also teamed up with the World Poker Tour to host the DeepStacks festival on its global, Southern European, and Italian networks.
Live poker in Europe remains mostly suspended, though the Sochi Resort in Russia has been an exception. It hosted a WPT Main Event there in March as well as stop on PokerStars’ European Poker Tour. 888 also sponsors the Spanish CNP tour, which is apparently planning a small stop in Madrid starting today.
Still, as live poker remains mostly on the back seat, the operator held the Sunday Sale twice and recently ran the XL Spring Series earlier in June. After a promising start, the final day of the festival saw overlays in all Main Events to provide plenty of value to all participants.
In the meanwhile, 888 has intensified the focus on the regulated US online poker market. The operator extended the partnership with Caesars Interactive Entertainment (CIE) to power the WSOP software for the next five years. An expansion into several new regulated markets such as Pennsylvania and Michigan is planned for the current year.
The duo will be hosting the domestic portion of the 2021 WSOP Online Bracelet Events in July. So far, only players based in Nevada and New Jersey will be able to participate. Satellites are already available and the WSOP.com client also ran two qualifiers for the in-person 2021 WSOP $10,000 Main Event as well.
888 has been the exclusive partner for WSOP seats on a global scale until 2020. However, that is no longer the case as the WSOP has further extended the partnership with rising online poker operator GGPoker.
During the upcoming summer window, 888live Sochi will take from July 17 to 26. It also appears that the 888-sponsored Circuito Nacional de Poker (CNP) in Spain recommences its live poker activities as well.