When announcements of the International Stadium Poker Tournament (ISPT) first made the French gambling news in 2011, quickly spreading beyond amid much hype and fanfare, it promised to become the world’s largest live event of its kind. The jaw-dropping presentation and the promises made at the time were truly impressive.
The idea was to have a peculiar mix of online and live tournaments, with 30,000 players gathering at Wembley Stadium, laptops in tow, to then compete online until there are only 3,000 left standing. They would then proceed to a live tournament, trying to snatch their share from the EUR 30 mln prize pool.
It was also planned to turn it into a series of global events, with other prominent locations joining in to host ISPT tournaments.
ISPT founders Laurent Tapie and Prosper Masquelier have since “adjusted” their ambitions, as the prize pool has dwindled to an “estimated Euro 10 million” – admittedly, still a nice amount. More importantly, the format has also changed. Gone is the vision of 30,000 contestants and their laptops, and instead the ISPT will start with the tried and tested method of online qualifiers beginning in February.
These will come at a price of EUR 300 and available through many of the well known online poker sites in France and some other EU countries, namely MyPok, Partouche, Lockpoker, Poker770, 770 and Netbet. The said amount will buy applicants the chance to play against thousands of other enthusiasts and eventually find themselves among the Wembley finalists in June.
A shortcut is also available to those who would prefer to go straight to the stadium: they can skip the qualifiers completely for a EUR 3,000 buy-in.
Undoubtedly, the event is still ambitious and impressive, but it appears that we would have to wait a bit more for the type of mega-event that was originally envisioned by the founders.
The changed format also means that while French players would be able to qualify online under French gambling laws, as is the case for players from several other countries under their own domestic laws, many others would only be able to attend at all without paying the higher entry fee.