COVID-19 Forces PokerStars to Cancel 2020 PSPC and EPT Barcelona

  • No dates have been set, but plan is to resume PSPC in 2021 in Barcelona
  • With extra time until next year, PokerStars will award 80 more Platinum Passes
  • Current Platinum Passes will transfer to the 2021 PSPC
  • EPT Barcelona, three additional PokerStars LIVE events also cancelled
PokerStars Platinum Pass with poker chips
PokerStars has cancelled the 2020 PSPC, EPT Barcelona, and three other live events because of the COVID-19 pandemic. [Image: / Neil Stoddart]

Three other live events scratched

PokerStars has announced that its spotlight live poker tournament, the $25,000 PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC) 2020, has been cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It was scheduled to be held at Casino Barcelona in August as part of the European Poker Tour (EPT) Barcelona festival, which has also been cancelled.

In a post on the PokerStars blog, The Stars Group managing director Severin Rasset empathized with poker players who will no doubt be disappointed. He stressed, however:

Our priority is the safety and good health of all our players and staff, as well as the communities that host such large events.”

In addition to the PSPC and EPT Barcelona, three other PokerStars LIVE events have been forced off the calendar: Road to PSPC Cannes (originally slated for June 9 – 14), Road to PSPC Madrid Torrelodones (July 1 – 5), and Manilla Super Series 14 (July 6 – 12).

PSPC plans going forward

Rasset said that PokerStars has not set any exact dates for a future iteration of the PSPC, but he did say the plan is to hold it next year in Barcelona.

PokerStars is going to award 80 more Platinum Passes

If there is any silver lining to this, it is that with the extra time until the PSPC is finally run, PokerStars is going to award 80 more Platinum Passes, increasing the total from 320 to 400.

PokerStars has contacted current Platinum Pass holders with information on what to do from here. Their prize packages, including hotel stays, will be transferred to the 2021 PSPC. Those who have already purchased airfare to Barcelona have been instructed to contact PokerStars.

First PSPC exceeded expectations

PokerStars introduced the PSPC in 2018, building up the hype and qualifiers for it for an entire year before holding the inaugural event in January 2019 in the Bahamas. It was by far the largest $25,000 buy-in tournament of all time, with 1,039 entries. The previous record was held by the 2007 World Poker Tour World Championship, which fielded 400 fewer players.

Of the 1,000+ players last year, 320 gained entry via a Platinum Pass. PokerStars awards these lucrative prize packages via online and live tournaments and special giveaways during the year. The 2020 Platinum Pass included the €22,500 ($24,532) buy-in in the PSPC Main Event, six nights’ accommodations for two at a five-star Barcelona hotel, €1,250 ($1,363) for expenses such as plane tickets, airport transfers, special PSPC merchandise, and Platinum Pass “winner experiences.”

With the $1m added by PokerStars, the 2019 PSPC prize pool was $26.5m. Ramon Colillas, a Platinum Pass holder himself, won the massive tournament and $5.1m. The prize distribution was a bit top-heavy: the top six finishers all made at least $1m, while the min-cash was just $25,450, barely more than the buy-in.