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Why Poker Needs Fewer Tournaments

European Poker Tour, World Poker Tour, World Series of Poker, World Series of Poker Europe, World Series of Poker APAC, LAPT, ISPT, Heartland Poker Tour, MSPT, Estrellas Poker Tour, Aussie Millions, UKIPT, GUKPT, IPT. Do I need to go on? There are simply too many poker tours and poker tournaments.

When poker first started “Making It” on TV, poker fans and enthusiasts were greeted with an ongoing progression in the size and scope of the tournaments they watched. From 2003 through 2006 the WSOP Main Event first-prize money went from $2.5 million to $5 million to $7.5 million to over $12 million! WPT tournaments started off with six-figure and some low-seven-figure prizes, but by 2006 had reached the point where winners were receiving $2 million or more at each stop. It’s almost as if poker tournaments have regressed in recent years, and one of the reasons (not the only one) is that there is simply too much competition.

On any given day poker players are scattered across the globe, repping their sponsors tournaments or chasing some tour’s Player of the Year award. Instead of one event, with all of the best tournament players in attendance, the poker world ends up with little more than a handful of middling events, each with a dozen or so big names in attendance.

What the poker world needs is consolidation. The poker world needs these tours to condense their schedules and create tournament series in lieu of the current model. Let a hosting casino market a WPT event as a month long event, culminating with a final week that will see the biggest names in poker in attendance.

Unfortunately, over the past five years there has been little movement in the way the poker tournament industry does business. The market is super-saturated, with the over-crowding hurting every poker tournament and poker tour, and keeping even the most prestigious events like the WSOP in a virtual holding pattern, with attendance ebbing and flowing at random with no sign of sustained increases on the horizon.

What I would like to see, although this is more wishful thinking than anything else, is for the WPT and the EPT to absorb their smaller cousins. Instead of trying to compete with the EPTat European venues the WPT should cede that market and work hand-in-hand with the EPT to design schedules that do not conflict with one another. Let the Euro locals play in their events and the US locals play in theirs, and let the pros travel from event to event.

With this consolidation we could have the WSOP run their three big tournament series, Las Vegas, Europe, and APAC, the WPT host 10 legitimate tournament series across the US; the EPT do the same in Europe; and even create room for an HPT or WSOPC tour in smaller out of the way casinos.

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