Poker's Million Dollar Year


RIP Brian
Feb 22, 2001

2008 off to a lucrative start as tourney values multiply

Even a cursory study of tournament news as 2008 kicks off illustrates that the game of poker continues to thrive both on and offline.

This week alone, several million dollar events have been announced, starting with Heads Up Entertainment's 2008 Canadian Open Poker Championship in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. The tournament, scheduled to culminate early in March at the Deerfoot Casino will feature a series of five events with an estimated prize pool exceeding Cdn$1.3 million.

The first event on the schedule is the 250-player maximum, $500 Freezeout Charity Event on March 5. The event will see 5 percent of the prize pool donated to Breast Cancer Research. The second event begins March 6 and is the main event of the five-event series. It is a $5 000 heads-up event that will be limited to 128 players, expected to include many international hotshots.

Event 3, the $1 500 Short-Handed, will take place on March 7 with a player capacity of 200, and Event 4 on the following day will be a $1 000 buy-in freezeout tournament, and the day after that a $500 buy-in freezeout on March 9. These final two events will probably each seat 300 players.

Playtech-iPoker Network giant Titan Poker has also upped the tournament ante significantly with its announcement of a $2 million guaranteed prizepool tournament in March.

The tournament will be open to all players, who can buy-in directly to the event or win their seats through a series of sit-and-go tournament and multi-table qualifiers. Qualifying satellites start from just $3+30 cents for players to parlay an online qualifier into a chance at the big money.

Titan now boasts it dishes out more than $10 million in guranteed prizepools every month, and among its successes counts Tournament Titan with a million dollar guaranteed prize-pool, whilst the 2007 European Championship of Online Poker last month saw more than $2.5 million in guaranteed prizes awarded to Titan Poker players.

More big money is invested in staging online qualifiers for major land events, with winning players awarded substantial packages to world events like the Aussie Millions, the Irish Open and the South African Poker Open.

Taiwanese giant corporate GigaMedia, which acquired Grand Virtual some time ago and now operates the increasingly high profile Everest, is also investing in further lucrative tournaments, and announced this week that it is to again stage the popular Everest Poker Avalanche.

This online event features a million dollar prize-pool and brought the pokerheads in in droves last year. This time, there will be weekly rather than monthly qualifiers, giving players more opportunities to reach the finals.

Party Poker is competing vigorously in this highly contested field, too, probably with one eye on its arch online poker rivals PokerStars and Full Tilt, both of which routinely dish out millions in weekly tournaments. Starting this week, Party is running the Irish Poker Championships in snowy Galway, Ireland.

The event is the first major sponsorship in Ireland by, with a Euro 2 000 buy-in and an entry field of around 298 players vying for a prize-pool of Euro 542 380.

Pumping out advance publicity for its famed Aruba Poker Classic this week was, promising a $1 million winner's purse for the 2008 edition, scheduled to finalise in September. The APC is in its seventh year, and continues to attract an eclectic mix of poker aces. This year's first prize is an historical record for the tournament, a spokesman boasts, pointing out that this year's winner will earn an additional $200 000.

With the year just beginning, expect many more announcements from major companies of big money action that will include the World Series of Poker, the World Poker Tour events and several European-focused tournaments currently shaping up on the planning table.

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