In case you missed it, Full Tilt Poker unveiled a high-stakes live tournament series this week dubbed the Onyx Cup. The festivities will kick off on May 11th and 12th in Las Vegas and feature five preliminary tournaments with buy-ins ranging from $100,000 to $300,000. We told you we were talking about high-stakes poker. The Grand Finale will have a $250,000 buy-in and $1 million added to the prize pool.
In a press announcement posted on Full Tilt Poker’s website on Monday, site pro and “Poker After Dark” host Ali Nejad gave the background behind the formation of the Onyx Cup: “In big tournament fields, great players rarely have the opportunity to compete against one another and the rest of the poker elite, so we wondered, ‘How would these players fare if their only competitors were the other giants of the game?’ Well, we’re about to find out.”
An estimated $30 million prize pool will be up for grabs during the six-event series and the tournaments will take place in Las Vegas, Asia, and Europe. Three Sin City stops have already been announced. The first will transpire between May 11th and 12th, while the second tournament on the Onyx Cup circuit, which also has a $100,000 buy-in, will pan out from July 7th to 8th in Las Vegas. The latter event overlaps with Days 1A and 1B of the 2011 World Series of Poker Main Event at the Rio.
The Grand Finale will be held in Las Vegas in December, although specific dates have not yet been announced. The tournaments will consist of eight-handed tables and players are given just 30 seconds to act on their hands. They’ll also be provided with three time chips good for a total of three minutes should they need an extra few seconds.
The top finishers in each tournament will receive points for the Onyx Cup Leaderboard. When the final hand is dealt in the Grand Finale, whoever has the most number of points will receive the first ever Onyx Cup trophy and a brand new sports car. Moreover, the players with the highest Onyx Cup Leaderboard tallies will be invited to play in the Grand Finale. Needless to say, there’s a lot at stake.
Over 40 television networks around the world will air coverage from the series, although specific details about Full Tilt’s media partners have not yet been revealed.
Full Tilt Poker is hosting three real money qualifiers for the kickoff Onyx Cup event. The first, a $640 buy-in tournament, will run on March 27th. The second is a $1,060 buy-in event that will be held on April 10th. Finally, on May 1st, a $2,100 qualifier will take place. All three tournaments commence at 18:30 ET and award Onyx Cup prize packages worth $105,000. Their winners will head to Las Vegas in May to compete in the opening tournament and freeroll qualifiers are also available.
On the field that could turn out for the Onyx Cup series, Full Tilt Poker pro Tom “durrrr” Dwan commented in a press video on Monday, “I think there will definitely be fewer amateurs that want to play for $100,000 when they hear that right away, but as the events start happening and people start seeing the fields and seeing people they want to play with, it could easily grow in a way like the World Series did. Maybe in 2013 there will be 12 events. Who knows?”
Click over to Full Tilt for more details on the Onyx Cup. Remember, the site offers a fully downloadable client for Mac poker players.