Exclusive Interview: PokerStars Unveil What's in Store for EPT 2024

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PokerStars European Poker Tour

With little than a period to spell until nan European Poker Tour (EPT) kicks disconnected nan twelvemonth successful Paris, PokerNews sat down pinch PokerStars Associate Director of Live Events Operations Cedric Billot to talk astir what players tin expect from PokerStars Live and nan EPT successful 2024.

We besides asked him astir caller destinations, what players tin expect from nan aforesaid schedule arsenic 2023, and nan improvements that person been made for nan tour's return to Paris, aft apologising for a "subpar experience" astatine the inaugural event.

Return to Paris

Back successful 2004-05, nan EPT visited Barcelona, London, Monte-Carlo and Copenhagen to sanction conscionable 4 of nan 7 stops successful nan inaugural season.

But it could person included Paris. According to Billot, PokerStars had wanted to big an EPT successful Paris arsenic early arsenic nan first season, but were thwarted by regulation. Indeed, poker successful Paris has a rich | history, yet 1 analyzable by occasional authorities and sometimes constabulary intervention.

Associate Director of Live Events Operations Cedric Billot

In 2014, a extremity connected nan France Poker Series (FPS) was cancelled aft police raided nan venue.

Poker past appeared to dice wholly successful nan French capital, pinch celebrated 'cercles' aliases gaming clubs specified arsenic Aviation Club de France and Clichy-Montmartre closing their doors successful nan 2010s. However, successful 2022 nan EPT announced it was holding its first arena of 2023 location astatine nan Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile.

Paris was nan 13th different European superior to big a extremity connected nan European Poker Tour — really galore tin you name? Answers astatine nan bottommost of nan article!

"Paris is our second-strongest extremity aft Barcelona. It's nan metropolis that everyone wants to spell to"

While Billot was President of nan FPS erstwhile nan determination was made to cancel nan arena successful 2014, travel 2023, he was responsible for nan full EPT show and said that French players had ever been important to nan EPT arsenic a whole.

"As soon arsenic it was imaginable to do so, we went to Paris," he told PokerNews. "At each azygous EPT stop, French players are our number 1 demographic. From Prague to Barcelona, moreover successful London, we had much French players than British!

"Paris is our second-strongest extremity aft Barcelona. It's nan metropolis that everyone wants to spell to."

EPT Paris

The inaugural EPT Paris arena wasn't without its flaws, pinch immense subordinate numbers causing bottlenecks successful nan venue and analyzable registration systems complicating matters further. In bid to hole these issues, PokerStars conducted a due appraisal and study of nan venue and, on pinch Club Barriere, came up pinch a number of solutions.

"Last twelvemonth we saw immoderate awesome numbers, which had consequences," said Billot. "But nan issues weren't conscionable down to nan ample number of players. The entranceway to nan venue and nan logistical entree to nan venue were some a nightmare.

"There were impermanent fixes past twelvemonth and eventually, during nan 2nd week, we improved nan process and it became measurement smoother. But we perfectly knew we needed to alteration for [2024]."

As a result, nan show has moved to an wholly caller venue successful nan Palais des Congrès, a state-of-the-art convention halfway successful nan bosom of nan city. The bigger venue has allowed for much capacity for tables and much abstraction wide and promises a quicker check-in and registration process.

Cameras and Game Security

However, PokerStars isn't conscionable investing successful a caller venue for nan EPT. With an accrued attraction connected crippled integrity, PokerStars has accrued its finance and attraction connected nan information of nan game. This has seen caller CCTV cameras installed that will alteration nan monitoring of nan action astatine each azygous array — nan only unrecorded arena usability to do truthful — each pinch nan purpose of making events arsenic safe arsenic possible.


Related: PokerStars Head of Game Integrity says: "Trust is Everything"


"We pridefulness ourselves connected beingness information and crippled integrity astatine each of our venues," said Billot. "That's why we've purchased marque caller state-of-the-art cameras to thief america support this level of security. Every azygous EPT tourney array will person its ain CCTV camera.

"We cognize our players worth crippled information and we cognize PokerStars unrecorded events already activity difficult to guarantee our games are safe. And successful bid to support this spot betwixt subordinate and operator, we request to proceed to amended and invest. And this is simply a large investment.

"It allows america to reappraisal each azygous hand, each azygous play, each azygous spot race. It has information properties astatine first, but nan value of nan instrumentality is truthful bully it could let america to watercourse from these cameras successful nan future."

EPT Cyprus Tournament Room

EPT 2024 Schedule

The 2024 EPT schedule was released backmost successful November, and featured nan aforesaid 5 stops arsenic 2023. Billot told PokerNews location was a elemental logic for nan repetition schedule, but besides admitted he was unfastened to nan thought of adding caller stops successful early years.

"If thing isn't broken, why would you alteration it?" he said. "If we could amended it aliases connection thing different to our players, we would."

EPT Monte Carlo Tournament Room

But, Billot says, each of nan destinations connected this year's EPT schedule are "no-brainers" and not each for nan aforesaid reasons.

"We'd beryllium nuts not to spell backmost to Barcelona"

"Paris was evidently incredibly beardown past year, and we're looking guardant to going back. Monte-Carlo, for different reasons, is besides an incredibly beardown extremity — it has nan glitz and nan glamour that we'll ne'er find anyplace else.

"Barcelona — nary request to explain. With nan record-breaking Estrellas Main Event, we'd beryllium nuts not to spell backmost to Barcelona. And Prague was besides record-breaking pinch nan Main and nan Eureka, and everyone loves that extremity successful December.

Paris wasn't nan only extremity making its EPT debut successful 2023, pinch Cyprus besides proving incredibly celebrated pinch nan players.

"It saw our champion subordinate feedback ever," said Billot. "The players bloody loved Cyprus! We had astonishing numbers connected debased buy-ins, precocious buy-ins and nan Main Event pinch nan champion acquisition ever. So that was a very, very easy determination to spell back."

So for 2023, nan stops stay nan same, but nan doorway is unfastened for caller destinations to make their lawsuit for inclusion successful nan 2025 schedule and beyond.

"Look astatine different sports. On nan ATP tennis circuit, you person immoderate stops that ne'er alteration and others that travel successful and out. Formula One goes to caller destinations for illustration it did successful Las Vegas past year, but location are besides races that are ever nan same.

"Nothing is group successful stone. We're ever keeping an oculus connected caller locations which we deliberation will beryllium popular. We've looked astatine Germany and nan Netherlands, moreover 1 time coming backmost to London. It's thing we are looking astatine for adjacent year."

Cedric Billot - Julien Liarte

Crafting Unforgettable Live Experiences

The unrecorded arena offering by PokerStars is considered by galore to beryllium among nan champion successful nan industry, not conscionable pinch nan prime of events, buy-ins and destinations, but besides nan subordinate acquisition connected connection while astatine nan events.

This is down to a "perfectionist mentality" according to Billot, pinch PokerStars improving each nan time. From nan preamble of Power Path to nan caller determination to let players to triumph multiple seats to its location events.

"It's acknowledgment to an astonishing squad of knowledgeable colleagues that we tin strive for perfection. We really want to make nan EPT shine.

"We want to beryllium much eager pinch our events, and effort to make them measurement bigger pinch a amended acquisition on-site"

"That's why it's important to person an equilibrium and balance, and 4-6 events a twelvemonth I deliberation is optimal. Any much would beryllium a mistake, and we would conflict pinch different events. It's important that we person capable clip to build up and beforehand each and each 1 of our unrecorded events.

"One point that is guiding our strategy and our imagination is simply a attraction connected value complete quantity. We want to beryllium much eager pinch our events, and effort to make them measurement bigger pinch a amended acquisition on-site. More clip to qualify, much clip to beforehand nan arena and much clip to really make immoderate sound astir it."

EPT Trophy

Outlook for Live Poker successful 2024

Although nan coronavirus pandemic sits firmly successful nan rearview mirror, Billot admits that it helped alteration people's perspectives and, arsenic a result, surely aided unrecorded poker arsenic a whole. As a result, unrecorded poker surged successful 2023 and looks to proceed that resurgence into 2024 and beyond.

"The world spent 2 years successful lockdown, stuck pinch mobile phones and TVs. I deliberation that helped group to admit and bask thing which is live, because there's that level of societal interaction and interaction. And unrecorded poker benefitted large time."

European poker besides saw galore records broken, including nan grounds for nan largest PokerStars unrecorded tourney ever held, pinch Lucien Cohen winning nan Estrellas Barcelona Main Event for €676,230. That wasn't nan only location circuit breaking records, pinch nan FPS grounds for largest Main Event surgery twice, and nan Eureka Prague Main Event closing retired nan twelvemonth pinch different grounds field.

*FPS Paris collapsed nan grounds from FPS Monte-Carlo successful 2022. FPS Monte-Carlo past reclaimed nan grounds 2 months later

EPT Main Events were besides posting immense fields, pinch Prague mounting a caller largest EPT Main Event field, Paris becoming nan largest non-Barcelona EPT Main Event, and Barcelona continuing its power pinch nan second-largest EPT Main Event ever.

"Audiences want unrecorded poker — it's nan champion contented to watch"

Billot says that nan thought of a caller unrecorded poker roar is "naive" but does admit that nan maturation has been enormous.

"The appetite for unrecorded poker is measurement higher now than it was earlier nan pandemic. I'm not saying we've reached nan apical conscionable yet, but we're besides not going to double our numbers from past year. PokerStars expects to support increasing that number, but only if we do our occupation well.

"Audiences want unrecorded poker — it's nan champion contented to watch because that's wherever nan large bucks tin beryllium won. In bid to triumph a cardinal bucks online you person a fistful of chances a year. To effort and triumph a cardinal bucks live, you person 20 chances, if not more.

"In our integer era wherever we walk much and much clip connected our mobile devices and connected our screens, I deliberation unrecorded poker is safe for a long, agelong time."

Answers: Vienna, Prague, Copenhagen, Tallinn, Paris, Berlin, Budapest, Monte Carlo, Warsaw, Dublin, Madrid, Kiev, London

Name Surname
European Executive Editor

Will Shillibier is nan European Executive Editor for PokerNews and based successful nan United Kingdom. He started moving for PokerNews arsenic a freelance unrecorded newsman successful 2015 and joined nan full-time unit successful 2019. He graduated from nan University of Kent successful 2017 pinch a B.A. successful German. He besides holds an NCTJ Diploma successful Sports Journalism.

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