As online poker continues to grow in popularity, the fight to get a foothold on geographical regions becomes increasingly important as online poker rooms look to expand into undeveloped markets. In recent years, the industry has seen expansion into Asia and Latin America with various live tournaments offering exotic vacation destinations and big buy-in events. Recently, PokerStars, the world’s largest online poker room, announced the first season of the Czech-Slovak Poker Tour.
The Czech-Slovak Poker Tour (CSPT) will feature major live poker tournaments held at the top venues in the region with a guaranteed prize pool of CZK 1,222,222 at each event. Although that might sound like a fortune, it is only about $66,500. On top of the prize pools at each event, a leaderboard will be kept tallying points for players participating in tournaments during the series. Players who finish in the Top 32 on the leaderboard after all four tournaments receive entry into a special finale to play for CZK 500,000 (approximately $32,000).
The first event in the series already took place in one of Europe’s most historic cities, Prague, from June 25 to 28th. The tour moves to Ostrava on September 24 to 27th featuring a CZK 13,000 buy-in event that will be capped at 153 entrants. After that event, the CSPT will continue on to Brno in the Czech Republic at the popular Poker Herna Vegas casino with another CZK 13,000 buy-in event that also has a 153 entrant cap. Finally, Bratislava in the Slovak Republic will host the final leg of the tour from December 10th to 13th at the Caesars Poker Club at Golden Vegas. This final event will boast another CZK 13,000 buy-in, but the field will be expanded to allow up to 225 players.
Each stop on the CSPT includes live super satellites and side events. The day before each event, a CZK 500 buy-in satellite takes place (rebuys are allowed) and guarantees 10 entries into the feature tournament. After the start of the event, a Double Chance side event takes place with buy-ins of CZK 5,000 and CZK 3,000 to accommodate various bankroll sizes.
For players who have always wanted to travel to this region in Europe, PokerStars is hosting CSPT satellites that start at just a few dollars. Each prize package is worth $1,000, which covers the Main Event buy-in, hotel accommodations, and money for other expenses. Airfare is not included with the $1,000 prize package. Players looking to participate in the satellite tournaments can find the CSPT satellites by going into the PokerStars lobby, clicking on “Tourney,” and then “Regional.”
Freeroll satellites are held each Wednesday and Friday. These get players into either a Thursday rebuy event ($3.30) or a Saturday freezeout ($9.90), which qualify players into the final Monday freezeout tournament (the direct entry fee is $88). For every $1,000 in the Monday Freezeout prize pool, one prize package will be awarded.
For players in the United States, this gives a chance to explore a part of Europe where the dollar can go a long way and participate in a PokerStars live event. As a reference, airfare from Los Angeles to Bratislava traveling in December and booking in July was in the neighborhood of $900 to $1,200.