The massive Pokerstars online poker site showcased its influence
and sheer financial clout this week by setting a new seat sponsorship
record for the industry - 225 World Series of Poker seat sponsorships
at $12 000 a pop given away in a single night of poker action.
Each of the 255 winners gets a $12,000 prize package that includes the event buy-in and $1,000 in spending money, round-trip airfare to Las Vegas, and hotel accommodations during the event.
7 377 players from around the world competed for the sponsorship packages, generating fierce action at numerous tables.
"PokerStars.com has clearly become the place where poker players expect the biggest and best tournaments," said Greg Raymer, who won his entry into the 2004 Main Event on the site and went on to win the coveted bracelet and a major cash prize. "They started the idea of online satellites and now provide more WSOP players than anyone else in the world except for the WSOP itself."
PokerStars.com is expected to provide about 20 percent of the 8 000 players expected at this year's Main Event.
On the business side, the news was not as positive for Pokerstars, which has long been the subject of speculation concerning a possibly public listing on the London Stock Exchange (see previous InfoPowa reports).
Recent reports that the highly successful company, which is owned by Israeli businessmen, is working with leading brokers and investment bankers with a view to a listing were greeted with enthusiasm by investors.
Unfortunately the market volatility arising from the Betonsports clash with the US Department of Justice this week may have put a damper on the prospects for an immediate IPO. The Times reported this week that all has changed since the shut down of BetonSports.com following a federal indictment lodged against the publicly traded gambling firm, and the proposed GBP 1.6 billion flotation of Pokerstars is now in serious doubt.
The newspaper reported that Pokerstars has been working over the past few weeks with the investment banks HSBC and Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein on a review of its strategic options, with a flotation as the most likely outcome, although the company has made no comment on its plans.