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ISPT Banked on Full Tilt Acquisition

A little over three weeks remain before the International Stadiums Poker Tour makes its live debut at Wembley Stadium in London on May 31.

One of the most talked about (and ridiculed) poker tournaments to ever be scheduled, the ISPT has gained a bit of credibility recently by partnering with the likes of The Hendon Mob and Dusk Til Dawn. That followed sponsorship deals with Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi and Sam Trickett, among others, which proceeded to change the minds of many in the poker community from skepticism to perhaps even belief that the event may prove to be successful after all.

The initial concept of 30,000 players competing via laptop while seated in the stadium until the final 10% transition to the playing field to conclude the event in a live format has long ago been scrapped as a logistical nightmare. Also discarded was a €20,000,000 guaranteed prize pool, replaced with €1,000,000 guaranteed to the winner.

While the confusion surrounding the event resulted in numerous jokes as to how Prosper Masquelier and Laurent Tapie could conceive of such an event and hope to make it work, it should be remembered that the acquisition of Full Tilt was in the works at the time. Group Tapie was nearing a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice to acquire the site, hoping to use that as a catalyst to promote the ISPT.

When that deal fell through and PokerStars came to the rescue to acquire the assets of Full Tilt, Tapie was left without the proper springboard to make the event a success as originally envisioned. Changes had to be made that severely hampered the ability to promote the tourney as planned. Those changes included running satellites to the ISPT at a number of other poker rooms.

But imagine if Tapie had managed to pull off the Full Tilt deal. The ISPT would have greatly benefited from the relaunch of Full Tilt. All the fanfare and hoopla involved with rest-of-world players being reunited with some $184 million could have also been extended toward promoting the ISPT through the newly-relaunched site.

The tournament is set to go on May 31. That date conflicts with the 44th annual WSOP in Las Vegas. That’s yet another problem that the ISPT has had to encounter along the way. Wembley Stadium had to be booked well in advance of the announced dates of the WSOP.

It’s not yet known how many will buy-in and participate or if the ISPT will be deemed a success. But credit should at least be given to Tapie for continuing with the project despite the numerous problems that have ensued. And the main problem was the eventual demise of the Full Tilt deal. Had that not ocurred, things may have looked completely different.



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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.