The PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo and WPT Amsterdam are officially having 'a swing.'
Is this the beginning of a beautiful friendship?
With competing live tours you might think that PokerStars and the WPT are heated rivals in a tight market, and to a certain extent that’s true.
However they’ve also been working together behind the scenes for quite a while now and and have now made their cooperation public.
The new 'MonteDam Swing,' as it’s called, is a joint effort that connects the former EPT Grand Final, now the PokerStars Championship Monte Carlo, and the World Poker Tour Amsterdam that follows on its heels.
The premise of the MonteDam Swing is simple. There's a points Leaderboard based on four tournaments – two at the PSC and two at the WPT.
The four events are the National Championship and the Main Event in Monte Carlo and the WPT Deepstacks and the WPT Main Event in Amsterdam.
The Top 5 finishers on the leaderboard will get prize packages for upcoming PokerStars and WPT live events. There will be additional prizes for all players who participate in both main events in Monte Carlo and Amsterdam plus a couple of bonus prizes.
All told around 20,000 in extras will be paid out to players who participate in both.
So ... why are PokerStars and the WPT shaking hands like this? We met up with Edgar Stuchly of PokerStars and Hermance Blum of the WPT in Monte Carlo to find out.
PokerListings: What’s the deal with the MonteDam project?
Hermance Blum: We’re linking up these two events both from a geographical and a poker point of view, as we expect the players who came here to Monaco will travel to Amsterdam afterwards.
The idea behind it is that we’re rewarding players who do this and have success in the designated events as they will get tickets and packages for both live and online events.
PL: Are PokerStars and the WPT not supposed to be competitors?
Edgar Stuchly: Indeed, we are competitors on the live scene, to some extent.
But we’re also smart enough to know we have a common goal, which is to give the players the best experience. And part of that is intelligent scheduling.
Behind the scenes we’ve been talking for years. It just wouldn’t make sense to put the players in a position where they have to pick one of two big events. It makes more sense to keep the flow going so we’ve been making sure for a long time that our events don’t overlap.
PL: But isn’t that exactly what competitors do?
HB: It wouldn’t serve our purpose. As leaders of the industry our standpoint of keeping an open dialogue makes more sense. We’re all talking to each other about our live event dates and making sure we don’t conflict.
However, no one really knew about this, so now we’re making this public to let people know we’re all part of one bigger thing and we’re looking after everyone’s success.
At the end of the day poker is just poker, and poker is entertainment. Clashes wouldn’t be good for the bigger picture.
ES: Also, the players wouldn’t like clashes. They would probably understand but they wouldn’t appreciate it.
If the WPT and the PSC would take place at the same time in a geographically competitive environment, the players would say 'What’s the point? Can’t you pick up the phone and talk to each other?'
PL: And why would you go public with your cooperation now?
ES: We have made this public on various occasions, for example at the American Poker Awards and in other panels; we’ve openly spoken about it.
HB: Also at the panel for live events in Malta last year [ed. note: and at the London summit of poker and marketing].
PL: Is the MonteDam thing not new either?
HB: It’s not completely new. We’ve had that type of initiative in California, where it was called the California Swing. But this is something that’s missing in Europe.
Honestly, we don’t have the bandwidth to create enough events for the World Poker Tour in Europe to do this so it makes sense to partner with PokerStars.
I hope we’re going to get to do this more often in the future, as it’s very successful there.
ES: And it adds benefits for the players, which is something we’re always open to look at. We’re adding quite a lot of value to this with our prizes.
Don’t forget that not only the leaderboard winner wins; there are also a lot of participation prizes like SCOOP tickets, a $30k freeroll and so on.
PL: It’s surprising that in a tough market you would join forces instead of fighting each other.
HB: I think it’s good that we’re initiating this. As leaders in the industry we’ve always been very innovative.
It reflects that we'd rather think long term and about how to keep the players happy and maybe also bring more operators to the table.
PL: Is there anything specific planned for the future?
ES: At this point we’re certainly open for future co-operations. This one was done on pretty short notice and we’ll see what happens.
There will have to be some fine-tuning here and there but both of us are open to further co-operations.
HB: The main thing is that we’re showing the players that we’re all talking to each other and we want this conversation to keep going.
PL: Anything planned with regards to the PSC Barcelona?
HB and ES: Stay tuned.