The considerable resources of UK betting group Ladbrokes will be
behind a boosted version of the popular Poker Million tournament planned
for next year in an effort to create a European rival to the famous
Harrah's World Series of Poker which takes place annually in Las Vegas.
Ladbrokes is serious about the new venture, and has earmarked GBP 3 million as an initial investment in the project
The 2006 World Series of Poker was the biggest live poker tournament ever, with about 8 700 players competing for more than $82 million (GBP 44 million) in prize money.
Ladbrokes is betting on the fact that more than half the players in this year's WSOP qualified online in Internet tournaments where online gambling sites sponsored large numbers of players to the big Vegas event. John O’Reilly, managing director of Ladbrokes’s e-gaming division, says that more than half the players had qualified on the internet and future events in the States would be hit by the US ban on online gambling transactions introduced recently as an add-on to the Safe Port Act.
“The Act opens up a huge opportunity for an offline poker tournament in Europe to rival the World Series,” he said. “Poker Million is already the biggest poker event in Europe and we believe that by investing in the tournament and changing the format, London may rival the World Series.”
This year’s Poker Million tournament, which is run by Ladbrokes in conjunction with the sports promoter Barry Hearn, will culminate in all those who have qualified via Ladbrokes Poker.com attending a week-long final at its new casino in Paddington, all televised on Sky Sports.
The winner will pocket $1.2 million out of a total prize pool of $4.1 million.
O’Reilly said that the extra investment would enable Ladbrokes to double the prize money on offer at next year’s Poker Million tournament and attract players from a wider pool.