With successful events in Venice, Cyprus and Austria already in the bag this season, the 888Live Local Series hit the Costa del Sol in Southern Spain earlier this month.
In Marbella the players hit the links, mingled over drinks and tapas and ultimately sat down to play for a massive €77,565 prize pool.
Patrick Byrne went on to win the €17k first-place prize but for a lot of players - some who qualified for as little as 1c on 888poker - it was the experience of a lifetime.
PokerListings spoke with 888poker Live Events manager Doron in Marbella about the Live Local concept and the future of the series.
Doron: 888Live is all about the experience, and the experience is more than poker. It’s about fun and holiday, too.
We’re giving the players the chance to go to great places with their friends and/or family, provide them with travel expenses, a room, poker events plus additional activities.
It's about fun and holiday, too.
The original idea really was to spoil the players. Poker is nice, it’s a great hobby, but we want to give the players more and we want it to be available for everybody.
That’s why we have satellites running starting at 1c buy-in. It makes it possible for everyone to play, to win a package, go traveling, and eventually even win a sizable part of the poker prize pool.
The money is really a bonus on top of the whole experience. We make a lot of effort to get casinos, hotels and event companies into the same boat so we can offer our players something they don’t find anywhere else.
PL: Who is your target player group?
Doron: Obviously we're reaching out to the recreational players, those for whom live events are something special.
Pros do that all the time but for hobby players it’s an amazing experience to come to a place like Marbella and play.
There will be around 200 who have this experience here and you can see how it brings people together.
200 players shared the joy in Marbella
Even at the reception we had on the first day people gathered who had never seen each other before and within 20 minutes everybody was talking to each other.
PL: For now, 888poker seems to have won the fight for second place in online poker traffic. How did you get there?
Doron: Quite simply, hard work. We’ve been very active on a lot of markets with promotions and events. We have a great team working together.
That might be the secret of our success. We like to work with each other, and we like to work for 888.
It’s a bit like our second home. It hasn’t been easy to get to second place, and it won’t be easy to stay there, but we won’t be resting for a minute.
And who knows where it might lead us.
PL: How do you find the locations and activities for your live events?
Doron: We’re trying to think of new locations all the time and we fit the activities according to where we go and what season it is.
In Venice, for example, we took the players to the Murano islands where the famous Italian glassmakers perform their art.
Activities are all part of the deal.
In Cyprus there is water-skiing and speedboats, so we opted for sports events. In Austria in January, it was obviously skiing, but also spa activities.
When we go to historical Tallinn, Estonia, in September we’ll take the players on a tour through the old town and have lunch or dinner with them in a local, traditional restaurant.
And, of course, we are already planning for 2016.
PL: What can you tell us about the events next year?
Doron: I can’t say too much but there might be something in the Caribbean.
If you want to take your first steps in live poker you can qualify for all the low buy-in poker events on 888 online, giving you the chance to compete in international tournaments with great structures and big prize pools.
Get yourself a seat for this one; up to 2,000 players are expected!