After a year of marketing and spending millions by giving away $30,000 Platinum Passes to hundreds of players, we are now only a couple of days away from the kickoff of the much-awaited PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC) event set to take place at the beautiful Atlantis Resort & Casino in the Bahamas.
With a buy-in of a massive $25,000 and $9 million already added to the prize pool, the inaugural PSPC promises to be a historic event, as it could well be the biggest and the most lucrative $25k buy-in tournament in the history of live poker.
The PSPC—which the company is calling it a “true celebration of poker”—is scheduled to take place from January 6 to 10 and will be played as a rake-free freezeout tournament. It will be a part of the PokerStars iconic live festival—*PokerStars Caribbean Adventure 2019* (PCA) consisting of 41 events including the $10,300 Main Event set to run right after the PSPC concludes.
It was back in December 2017 at the PokerStars Championship Prague Main Event when PokerStars Team Pro Daniel Negreanu revealed the details surrounding the new PSPC event. However, what made the announcement so special was the audacious plan of PokerStars to send over 300 players to the event for free via its extensive Platinum Pass system, with each pass valued at $30,000. The Platinum Pass includes a $25,000 seat plus six nights’ accommodation at the Atlantis Resorts in the Bahamas and $2000 in cash for travel expenses.
“Our objective is to create an event that brings professionals and amateurs together, creating many winning moments and unforgettable stories,” said CEO of The Stars Group, Rafi Ashkenazi, last year.
Throughout 2018, the Platinum Pass system was a cornerstone of PokerStars’ promotional efforts, with Platinum Passes given away via a dozen different avenues and providing ample opportunities for players to win the $30,000 package. Stars even ran the Platinum Pass Adventure promotion where almost all the PokerStars ambassadors gave away Platinum Passes to their fans through various fun and creative contests and challenges.
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Many of the Platinum Pass winners had many wonderful stories to share. One of them, Nathan Manuel, a Run It Up tour veteran player, made several attempts to win a Pass. He tried his luck in the £150 buy-in PokerStars MegaStack London event but failed after four entries. He tried again in New Jersey but failed once more. He even participated in Jaime Staples’ Ultimate Sweat competition and Jeff Gross' Best Vlogger competition before finally winning one at Run It Up Reno in Nevada, where he topped the $86 buy-in Moneymaker event to finally win the $30,000 Bahamas package.
The same tour also gave a Platinum Pass to a 76-year-old man named Jahngir (John) Mokhtari after he shipped one of the Moneymaker events. He happens to be the oldest man to hold a Platinum Pass.
However, it was the story of Jeremy Hilsercop that caught all the attention last month. It all started with Arlie Shaban’s Platinum Pass final challenge where he had to convince popular poker podcast host and a staunch PokerStars critic, Joey Ingram to accept a Platinum Pass. Meanwhile, at the same time, a video surfaced on social media where Jeremy’s wife Randi Hilsercop gifted her husband a 2019 WSOP package for Christmas. The reaction of him opening the present went viral and also caught the attention of Joey Ingram.
Touched by the video, Ingram said he would accept the offer only if PokerStars also offered Jeremy a coveted Pass. PokerStars immediately accepted Ingram’s counter offer and now all three of them including Arlie will be heading to the Bahamas.
The same day PokerStars also gave away a Pass to one of the hardest working guys in the poker media industry, Kevin “KevMath” Mathers and another to the First Lady of Poker Linda Johnson as Christmas gifts. Prior to that, PokerStars gave a Pass to poker journalist Aleeyah Jadavji, after she won the Poker Media category judged by an independent panel outside of PokerStars. Among the five nominees included in the media category were Kevin Mathers, PocketFives’ Lance Bradley, Cardplayer Lifestyle’s Robbie Strazynski, and our very own Nick Jones, co-founder of pokerfuse.
PokerStars Marketing Director David Carrion, said: “One of my dreams has always been to create – if such a thing exists – a perfect poker tournament. For me, this is the opportunity to really do something meaningful that impacts the industry and impacts the players.”
The operator is hoping for a new prize pool record for a $25k buy-in event. The record is currently held by the World Poker Tour which drew 639 entries to create a prize pool of $15.5 million at the Bellagio in Las Vegas in 2007 during the WPT Championship. With 320 players already lined up, PokerStars needs another 320 players to achieve a $16 million prize pool. Looking at the softness of the field, the event could well draw over 800 entries to breach $20 million in prize money.