PokerStars to Party in Southern Europe with €15 Million Carnaval Series

February 15, 2021
Tournaments & Cash Games

PokerStars is looking to reassert its dominance in the Southern European poker market a month after Winamax made waves with a record-setting series.
PokerStars is aiming to reassert its dominance in the Southern European poker market with a €15 million Carnaval series. (Image: Ecotrans)
Liquidity sharing pacts between France, Spain, and Portugal have made Southern Europe a lucrative market in recent years. PokerStars has been the dominant force since connecting the three regions in 2018.
However, Winamax applied some pressure to its local rival when it hosted a €20 million MTT series in January. In response, PokerStars has hit back with a multi-million-Euro event of its own.
Two Series to Cover Southern Europe
The Southern European Carnaval Series will feature a €10 million guarantee and more than 270 MTTs. It’s open to players in France, Spain, and Portugal and will run from February 21 to March 11.
The highlight of the series will be a €500,000 guaranteed main event that costs €250 to enter. Alongside it will be side events starting at €5 and satellites from €0.50.

PokerStars will also host a separate Carnaval Series for Italians. Italy signed the Southern European liquidity sharing agreement in 2017. However, regulators have yet to put implement the agreement. As such, Italians are unable to compete with players France, Spain, and Portugal.

However, PokerStars isn’t leaving them out in the cold. A scaled down version of the Southern European Carnaval Series will run on PokerStars.it from February 21 to March 7.
The Italian series will have a €5 million guarantee, 105 MTTs and, a €500,000 main event.
PokerStars Asserting Its Dominance
PokerStars is guaranteeing €15 million overall but it will need to break that if it wants to beat the record Winamax set in January.
Even if it does manage to pay out more than €20 million, it’s not a fair comparison. Winamax only shares players between France and Spain.
In contrast, PokerStars is active in all four markets and shares players between three of them. Therefore, it has the advantage of being accessible to more players.
However, a prizepool of at least €15 million in a relatively new poker market like Southern Europe is a positive, nonetheless.
Liquidity sharing has allowed the once isolated and struggling regions to flourish, a point noted by regulators in 2019.
“One year after the materialization of the first poker ring accepting players from more than one of the said jurisdictions, the French, Portuguese and Spanish regulatory authorities convey their general satisfaction on the evolution of this new online shared ecosystem,” reads a 2019 joint regulatory statement.
PokerStars has made full use of the new dynamics and, in the coming weeks, it will look to use them again to get ahead of Winamax.

Written by

Daniel Smyth

Dan Smyth is a poker media journeyman who politely reminds CardsChat readers that poker is played all around the world, not just America.

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PokerStars Michigan Strikes Hard and Fast with $1 Million COOP Festival

February 10, 2021
Tournaments & Cash Games

PokerStars Michigan is laying down a marker in the Wolverine State with the first in what’s likely to be a string of big-money festivals.
PokerStars Michigan is striking hard and fast with a $1 million guaranteed festival known as MICOOP. (Image: MelissaMN/Adobe Stock)
Just 12 days after launching in Michigan, PokerStars is setting the bar high with one of its famous COOP events.
The inaugural Michigan Championship of Online Poker (MICOOP) will get underway on February 20 and feature a $1 million guaranteed prizepool.
PokerStars Michigan Goes in Hard
PokerStars is currently the only online poker site live in Michigan. However, with 888 waiting in the wings and GGPoker potentially making its US debut this year, its tournament team aren’t wasting any time.
MICOOP will carry on a tradition that’s seen PokerStars obtain an early lead in Pennsylvania and make up for lost time in New Jersey.
The strength of COOP events is their consistency. PokerStars has used the same model across a variety of markets for more than a decade. As such, the team knows what events to offer and how to schedule them.

There will be 60 MTTs between February 20 and March 8. Buy-ins range from $10 to $500, and there will be a mixture of freezeouts, re-entry, and progressive KO tournaments across all variants.

The MICOOP main event will cost $300 and feature a $125,000 guarantee. It will be flanked by a $50 mini main event with a $35,000 guarantee.
Finally, satellites starting at $2 are already underway to get more players into the mix ahead of the start.
MICOOP Will Set the Bar in Michigan
PokerStars doesn’t have to worry about attracting players in Michigan just yet. It’s the lone operator and the early signs are positive.
After less than two weeks of activity, the site already has a seven day average of 450 players, according to PokerScout. For context, that’s more players than it attracts in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
Naturally, numbers could dip when the monopoly is broken. However, Kevin Lip, CEO of PokerStars’ partner FOX Bet, is well aware of this.
“As the sole online and mobile poker product in Michigan, our commitment and investment in PokerStars is vital as we aim to bring all aspects of a great customer experience,” Lip said in a February 9 press release.
Setting the bar higher than others can reach will be important, particularly if GGPoker joins the party.
GGPoker Could Shake Things Up
2020’s standout performer may have run into some issues over in the UK recently, but it continues to impress. Now, industry talk suggests that GGPoker will be licensed in Pennsylvania by the end of the week.
That would be the company’s first move into the US market. From there, it may only be a matter of time before it targets Michigan and other states.

That could be a problem for PokerStars. GGPoker is currently the third largest poker site in the world by seven day averages. However, in terms of average players online simultaneously, its 100,000+ total is double that of PokerStars.

The conditions in Michigan will be different to what they are internationally. As well as being a ring-fenced market, GGPoker hasn’t been around as long as PokerStars.
As such, it doesn’t have the same reputation. Indeed, American players have been exposed to PokerStars in one way or another since the early noughties. That could play into its favor.
What’s clear though is that no one is taking any chances. MICOOP will be great value for local players but it could be even more valuable for PokerStars in the long run.

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Daniel Smyth

Dan Smyth is a poker media journeyman who politely reminds CardsChat readers that poker is played all around the world, not just America.

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CardsChat Presents: Big Winners of the Week


The Polk/Negreanu dustup is done, an unregulated online tournament pays the winner more than a million bucks, live tournament poker is back in Vegas at the Venetian, and Michigan becomes the latest state to go fully legal. It’s a wild-wild mix of dramatic action, live and online, among amateurs and pros around the world (with Brazilians making a notable showing). Here’s who booked big victories in the game for the week ending Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021:(Image: YouTube/DougPolkPoker)Heads-up NLH vs. Daniel NegreanuWSOP.comIt was a dominating way to beat one of the best poker players in the world. After giving Daniel Negreanu not quite a glimmer of hope last week, Polk won all three sessions this week, for an additional $499,858 as he finished off the 25,000-hand heads-up no-limit hold’em challenge against his nemesis with a resounding $1.2 million profit. Polk left little doubt as to who is the superior heads-up player (not that we didn’t already know it before their match began in November). He followed up his win by delivering a Masterclass on how he dismantled Negreanu.(Image: Instagram/ramonkrop)In the fourth installment of its Venom Poker Series, venerable offshore site ACR attracted 3,774 entries into its $2,650 NLH main event, generating a $9.4 million prize pool. (Not quite a record, but enough to surpass the $8 million guarantee.) When the dust settled at the final table, PORKNOMAR finished on top after leading from start to finish. The Brazilian online grinder and member of the Midas Team capped off a dominant display with J♦ J♣ versus A♣ J♠ of fellow Brazilian ‘SmashedAvocado’ (aka Yuri Martins). A dry board sent the pot, the title, and more than $1.1 million to Kropmanns.(Image: Twitter/bencb789)Rolle proved you don’t have to start a final table with a chip lead to finish on top. The online crusher and head coach at Raise Your Edge went from eighth place to champion in GGPoker’s latest $10,300 weekly — all while streaming his comeback live on Twitch. Weaving through a final table full of online pros, Rolle was still a short stack (4:1 chip disadvantage) by the time he got heads-up. After clawing his way to the lead, he closed out the victory over a field of 210 by limping with A♣ 6♣ to induce a shove from the aggressive Brazilian Michael Zhang (“mczhang”), who obliged with Q♦ 10♥. An ace on the flop was enough to give Rolle the thrilling win.
This event honored the late, great WPT commentator and hero Mike Sexton with a $10,300 online version of the WPT Montreal event he won in 2016. It came with a $1 million guarantee and no rake. (The extra $300 from 125 entries went to the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth, a Sexton-family chosen charity.) Daniel Dvoress, an underrated tournament pro with over $15 million in live tourney winnings, shipped it. The 32-year-old Canadian previously won a WSOP online bracelet in the 2020 Millionaire Maker for nearly $1.5 million. Something tells us this won’t be the last time Dvoress, a coach for Phil Galfond’s Run-it-Once training site, makes CardsChat’s list of big winners.

(Image: WPT)
Sung Joo Hyun
WPT Deepstacks VenetianLas Vegas
$205,335 (+ $3k Championship entry)
This $1,600 buyin WPT Deepstacks at the Venetian, on the 25% occupancy Las Vegas Strip, drew 812 entries (across two Day 1s) this past week. Sung Joo Hyun outlasted them all for his first live poker tournament win. The victory comes on the back of a 2020 online WSOP bracelet (for $162k) in the $500 Deepstack NLH event. Check out Sung’s winner’s vid for a glimpse at what live multitable tournaments look like these days, while also providing the V a commercial for the antiseptic safety of their indoor, eight-handed festivals.

(Image: Getty)
Online Poker Players in Michigan
PokerStars

A decade after Black Friday, poker players in Michigan are finally able to play fully legal online poker. PokerStars MI launched on Monday, making the Wolverine state the fifth in the nation (following Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, and Pennsylvania) to offer online poker (along with online casino and sports betting). And with a bill recently issued to allow liquidity sharing, Michiganders could be playing across state lines by the end of 2021. PokerStars is first in Michigan, but it won’t be the last — BetMGM, Partypoker and more will come online in the months and years ahead.

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