Rant: If You Didn’t Play ISPT Wembley You Are Stupid

Wembley Stadium
With an enormous overlay, ISPT Wembley was a must-play event for European poker pros.

If you're a serious poker player in Europe and you missed the almost €600k overlay at the inaugural ISPT Wembley event, you are stupid.

It was two years ago that Prosper Masquelier shared his vision with the world. The French businessman dreamed of a poker tour that would play out in the major sports stadiums of the world.

It was also two years ago that the mocking, snide comments and belittling accusations started to fly in the face of the determined little Frenchman. It was Masquelier's dream but many predicted it would become his nightmare.

13 weeks ago, with just 32 online qualifiers having booked their seat into the first-ever ISPT at Wembley Stadium, the event's prospects looked bleak.

A terrible marketing strategy, ever-changing tournament formats and the untrusted name of the Partouche Group lingered in the background.

Masquelier’s dream needed a hero, and it arrived in the shape of Rob Yong. The Dusk till Dawn owner saw an opportunity to cast his brand onto the global stage, and he stepped forward and promised the winner €1 million out of his own pocket. People started to sit up and take notice.

You Can't Say No to €589k in Free Money

Poker players often talk the talk, but they don’t necessarily walk the walk. During countless interviews with the world’s greatest poker players I often ask them what the most critical components are in order to make it in this business. The search for value in a game that is getting increasingly more difficult is always one of the answers.

So why did so many European poker players turn their back on the biggest overlay the world had ever seen, and instead travel to Vegas to compete in crapshoots with thousands of other players? That’s not intelligent. That’s downright stupid.

Jeff Sarwer
“Not showing up is unintelligent," said Jeff Sarwer.

If you are European and you missed this tournament then you need to question your fundamental understanding of what it means to be a poker player. Had you got to the final table of a WSOP event and received the usual question of ‘bracelet or money?’ you would have chosen the latter, so why then ignore free money back home?

“I can’t understand the mentality of poker players. They run over to Vegas to play where they are getting raped. When do you get a chance to play for an overlay of half a million? Gambling is about value. If I am backing a horse I am looking for the one that is over priced. That’s the value. I’m looking for the value. This tournament is over priced. This tournament is value.” Said Dave "Devilfish" Ulliot.

Once DTD rubber-stamped the event, every European poker player should have placed the ISPT in their diary. Nobody questioned whether Yong would pay out the €1 million. When Yong says it’s guaranteed, it’s guaranteed.

There is no way on planet earth that the poker players I mingle with on a daily basis had booked flights and hotels for Vegas 13 weeks out.

They should have been at the ISPT. They should have been supporting a tournament that was critical to the grass roots of poker. They should have been chasing the value and instead they turned their back on it.

“Not showing up is unintelligent. How can you beat an extra 20-25% of dead money? That’s €600-700 of free money just for showing up - if you are even with the field - plus everyone is in the WSOP. It’s the best value tournament of the year … by far.” Said Jeff Sarwer.

The 44th Annual WSOP has a schedule containing 62 events. 62 events! When are people going to get the chance to play at Wembley again? When are people going to see a €589,060 overlay again? You got it wrong ladies and gentlemen. You got it so badly wrong!

Next time a European poker pro tells me how important it is to find the value I am going to see if he, or she, played the ISPT. If they did I will believe them and if they didn’t I will know that they are talking out of their arse.

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