Tapie ISPT project put on hold until May 2013

Posted by Steve Ruddock on May 18, 2012 Posted in Poker News | No Comments »

With their plans to purchase Full Tilt Poker having fallen by the wayside, Groupe Bernard Tapie has decided to push back its launch of the International Stadium Poker Tour (ISPT) until 2013. The tour, which features the innovative combination of both online and live play, was slated to kick-off this summer, but it seems the failed 7-month effort to acquire Full Tilt Poker has left Laurent Tapie and other ISPT investors without an online software platform to use during the tournament.

For those that haven’t heard of the ISPT, the tournament will take place in sports stadiums around the world (the first event is scheduled to be held in Wembley Stadium in London, England) with players initially playing in an online tournament (while sitting in the stadium) from a tablet computer. The players advancing on would then take their seats at live tournament tables located on the stadium floor.

According to the initial plans, the tournament would have a massive €20 million prize-pool, with the ISPT founders optimistically anticipating upwards of 30,000 entrants. Obviously the tournament will test the limits of poker tournament logistics, and many people are wondering if the concept is even possible at this time. With 30,000 players in stadium seats, followed by 3,000 players at live tables, the atmosphere would likely make the WSOP seem dull.

Originally scheduled for this summer, the Wembley event has been moved to May of 2013 as the ISPT executives figure out how to pull off the online portion of the event. In an interview with Cardplayer Magazine Laurent Tapie –who is working on the ISPT with former igaming exec Prosper Masquelier—seemed very happy with the progress, and optimistic that the tournament would indeed take place, telling the poker outlet, “We hope that this event will be fondly remembered by the participants and that it breaks all records in the matter. We had to consider an exceptional set up, a location that can host 30,000 people. Wembley seemed like the perfect option.”

Logistical concerns aside, there are still plenty of unanswered questions regarding the tournament:

* How do they plan to attract 30,000 players to a poker tournament?

Even with a modest €600 buy-in it seems hard to fathom that so many players would take a flyer on such a new and untested concept. Without an online poker room feeding them players through satellites it seems beyond wishful thinking to assume so many players would turn out for such an event.

* How will they guard against collusion during the initial online portion of the tournament?

Even with random seating and other security measures, it seems like a monumental undertaking to try to prohibit other electronic items or just standard collusion. Keep in mind there will be 30,000 players to police in the initial stages of the event, and with a 7-figure prize-pool you can bet your last dollar there will be players looking to skirt the rules for a share of the money.

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