In the world of poker, there are the major tours and festivals that everyone aspires to be a part of: the World Poker Tour, the World Series of Poker, and the European Poker Tour. Add in a few other events (like the Aussie Millions), and you’ve pretty much got the top tier of tournament poker covered.
But below that, there’s a second group of tournaments that are more accessible to amateur and casual players, while still attracting attention from serious professionals as well. These second-tier events often come under the guise of regional tours, the WSOP Circuit, or the WPT’s Regional and National events. This hasn’t generally been a level that’s seen much in the way of exciting news or fierce rivalries.
But that might be changing. The World Poker Tour and the DeepStacks Poker Tour announced a partnership on Tuesday that will result in the formation of WPTDeepStacks, a new tour that’s designed to take advantage of the strengths of both tours to create a premier mid-level tournament experience for players.
The new series will take advantage of the operational strength of DeepStacks, along with the strong brand recognition of the WPT, hopefully giving both companies a leg up in this segment of the tournament world. Certainly, both sides see exciting possibilities in the near future for the venture.
“Where we’ve been weak was this mid-major market, and now we’ve come along and completed the journey,” said WPT President Adam Pliska. “Now someone can engage [with the WPT] at any level and any price point.”
“This project puts that whole mid-major industry on a whole different level,” said DeepStacks president Chris Torina. “I think that this really offers the low to medium buy-in player a really exclusive opportunity that they would only get if they had entered a $5,000 or $10,000 event.”
One of the big incentives to get players to participate in WPTDeepStacks will be the potential to rise up into the main WPT tour with success in these mid-major events. The new tour will award a Player of the Year title, which will include a sponsorship package and a seat in the WPT Championship.
The series will also be designed to make players feel as though they’re already a part of the major tournament scene. Structures will be based on those used on the main World Poker Tour, and tournaments will receive coverage — including final table streams in many cases — on the WPT website. Television coverage is also a possibility at some stops.
“This is one of those rare win-win-wins,” Pliska said. “Combining WPT’s brand with DSPT’s staff and cutting-edge approach is a victory for both brands. We couldn’t be more excited about what this means for poker players everywhere.”
At the moment, the WPTDeepStacks tournament series will simply pick up where the DSPT was planning to go, with events simply receiving the new branding. However, there will be more brand integration in 2015, when the series reportedly hopes to have up to 20 stops during the season.
The first ever WPTDeepStacks event will take place at the Turlock Poker Room and Casino in California, which will begin on Friday, May 2.