PSPC vs Online MILLIONS - the free qualification routes

With two of the biggest events in poker history planned by PokerStars & partypoker, Barry Carter breaks down the ways to qualify for free.

pokerstars and partypoker
Big reasons to play both party and Stars in 2018

I was pretty optimistic about poker in 2018 anyway before PokerStars and partypoker announced their two bombshell events. It is exciting to see genuine competition again between two poker operators, especially when both of them are throwing millions of dollars at what will prove historic events.

PokerStars have unveiled a $9 million added $25,000 event at the PCA which will include around 300 freeroll qualifiers. partypoker have announced a $20 million guaranteed online tournament which would be the biggest ever seen at the virtual felt by a huge margin. The PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC) is a once-in-a-lifetime event, it will be the softest $25,000 High Roller ever and it is perhaps above all an unforgettable experience. The partypoker Online MILLIONS is quite simply a ready made shot at online poker history that will probably dethrone the WCOOP Main Event as the ‘online WSOP Main Event’.

Today I wanted to take a look at the added value qualification paths for both tournaments because they tell us a lot about each event. No doubt there will be a much wider variety of ways to qualify for both in the next 12 months than what is on offer now, and of course there will be regular satellites too, but this is what we know so far.


PSPC Platinum Pass

While the $1 million extra for the winner is nice, the really enticing part of the PSPC is that 300+ players will win tickets to this event for free. This not only makes it a significantly softer High Roller than we have ever seen, it may also recapture the ‘Moneymaker effect’ that made early online poker so compelling, if an amateur managed to win it.

So far the avenues to winning tickets are varied and lean towards the random. Players can win tickets to freerolls and All-In Shootouts for completing ‘missions’ like entering any Winter Series event, playing a live satellite, cashing in a flagship Sunday event, bubbling a live event or via a PokerStars Chest. This really opens it up to a wide variety of players and some of these winners will truly be enjoying a ‘lottery’ like dream next year.

There are also plenty of avenues to more deservedly ‘earn’ a ticket, for example all four Main Event winners in the Winter Series will win packages, and it appears the same will be the case for many of the live event champions.

The potential winners still lean more towards bigger buy-in regulars and those who play in the live events. 13 of the 19 packages awarded this month will be done so in live events which are already big buy-in, and the online winners are also more likely to have got their ticket after playing a $215+ event. But you can still get there after opening a single chest, playing a $0.55 Winter Series event or cashing in the $11 Sunday Storm.

My only real gripe with the qualification route for the lucky 300 is that, so far, it is perhaps a bit too random. I wouldn’t be surprised if somebody unknowingly won their package. So as the year progresses I hope PokerStars could introduce some packages where small stakes players could ‘earn’ their package for free a bit more intentionally.


partypoker millions

Every week from next month the top ten MTT players in a MILLIONS Online Leaderboard will win a $5,300 seat, and any repeat finalists will win $5,300 in tournament dollars. Likewise at every partypoker LIVE event the final ten Main Event finishers will also win a package.

This is tremendously generous because, with a lot of presumed multiple winners, the money given away will not all go into reducing that $20 million guarantee. It is also the ‘fairest’ in the spirit of competition sense, the consistent players at partypoker will be rewarded over the course of the year.

The biggest issue is that it is not as easy for casual players. I have been informed that while the details for the leaderboards are not out yet, they will include lower buy-in leaderboard winners, so small stakes grinders will get a look in. However, it still takes a lot of consistency to top any type of poker leaderboard, you usually have to be a pro, and even getting to a partypoker LIVE event in the first place is a big ask for some players. I suspect, and will write about this in the future, that this online event will therefore be a tougher field than the PSPC overall. 

Final thoughts on two huge events

Chris Moneymaker WSOP
Will we see a new 'Moneymaker' moment in one of these events?

The ways to win the packages perfectly exemplify the current company ethos of both sites. Right now partypoker are creating a history making ‘best-of-the-best’ online event and rewarding consistency to get there for free. PokerStars are leaning towards recreational players with gamified and randomised rewards. Both approaches are perfectly valid, and have their pros and cons.

One final interesting thing to note is that, so far, both sites seem to be trying to establish dominance in tournament poker. Cash game players don’t get much of a look in, there are not any rake chase based promotions yet, for example, it all seems to be about getting more people playing their live and online tournaments. With the big money for the winners and the natural headlines they create, both clearly seem to think the millions being added to these events will prove great marketing tools in the future.

It’s early days for both tournaments and no doubt both poker rooms will create new ways to qualify for their respective events. Both promotions are extremely generous and the poker community is benefiting from the increased competition between the sites. I think poker players of all levels should be keeping an eye on both events through the year and trying to qualify for both when it suits their bankrolls.

What qualification options would you like to see in 2018 for both events? Let us know in the comments:

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