PokerStars, Party Poker and 888Poker are going head-to-head-to-head with major tournament series worth more than $80 million scheduled for the middle of May.
If you like online poker tournaments with valuable prize pools (and who doesn´t?), you should seriously think about taking the middle two weeks of May off work – and probably a few days after to recover. From May 7th to May 21st, PokerStars´ SCOOP, Party Poker´s PowerFest and 888Poker´s XL Inferno Series will all be competing against each other to attract as many players to their events as possible.
Each of the three sites has bumped up their prize pool guarantees from previous incarnations of the same series. PokerStars has increased the value of its SCOOP series from $40 million to $55 million, Party Poker has raised the bar on its PowerFest series from $11 million to $20 million, and 888Poker is guaranteeing a minimum of $7.5 million for its XL Inferno Series rather than the $5 million that was on the table´s for the site´s last XL Super Series.
PokerStars Gets the Ball Rolling with Phased Tournaments
Officially, PokerStars´ SCOOP starts on Sunday 30th April with the first week being dominated by a series of phased tournaments. Like all the tournaments in the 171-event schedule, the phased tournaments will have a low, mid, and high buy-ins; and in addition to being played in the week 30th April to May 6th, there will also be opportunities for players to get involved in the opening event after the full SCOOP schedule kicks into action on May7th – the final of the event (phase 2) not being played until May 21st.
As is typical with major tournament series on PokerStars, there is a good range of formats, some skill-taxing disciplines of poker, and a couple of novelty events. The three SCOOP Main Events also take place on Sunday May 21st, and are guaranteed for $1.5 million (low), $3 million (mid) and $5 million (high), with the winner of the high SCOOP Main Event being guaranteed of $1 million. Further information about satellites and promotions offering seats in the SCOOP events can be found at PokerStars.
PowerFest Aims to Draw Some Big Guns
In the past, Party Poker has usually scheduled its PowerFest events in ascending order of buy-ins. Typically the Featherweight tournaments (buy-ins $5.50 – $11.00) and the Middleweight tournaments (buy-ins $22.00 – $$55.00) get their moment of glory before the Heavyweights (buy-ins $109.00 – $215.00) and High Rollers (buy-ins of $530.00 and upwards) steal the limelight. However, on this occasion, Party Poker has chosen to pack 301 tournaments into fifteen days of action.
In total there will be eight tournaments with prize pool guarantees in excess of $1 million – including a $25,500 buy-in Super High Rollers on May 16th from which Party Poker has said it will donate the entry fees to charity. There will also be ongoing phased tournaments in each buy-in category, but unlike in previous years, there will only be two Main Events. The Featherweights and Middleweights will play for a share of $100,000 – and the Heavyweights and High Rollers for a share of $1 million – on May 21st.
Will 888Poker´s Rebranding Exercise Attract Players?888Poker has made the decision to rebrand its Super XL Series as a three-stage “Championship” comprising of an XL Blizzard, an XL Eclipse and an XL Inferno. May´s stage is the XL Inferno – an extension of 888Poker´s existing NL Hold´em tournament schedule with a few enhanced guarantees throughout the 197 events and five Main Events – all scheduled for May 21st. Although appearing to lack in ambition in terms of the variety of games on offer, the XL Inferno series does offer a wider range of buy-ins.
Like PokerStars (biggest guaranteed prize pools) and Party Poker (largest number of events), 888Poker is hosting a selection of satellites and promotions to enable players to qualify cheaply for the feature events in their series. On the balance of the promotions, 888Poker appears to offer more opportunities to freeroll into its feature events than its two competitors. Whether or not you want to take advantage of these opportunities may depend on your preferred target and the prize money available.