The 13th season of the European Poker Tour (EPT) is set to start this week with its first stop in Barcelona. Yesterday, PokerStars Head of Live Poker Operations Neil Johnson announced a slate of changes over on the PokerStars Blog. Besides the introduction of a Pot Limit Omaha High Roller on every stop, and the possibility of chess, pinball, and backgammon tournaments, the biggest change announced is the expansion of payouts.
Back in Season 6, the EPT organization switched from the approximate 10 percent payout that was used in the first five seasons, to a payout structure that would pay out around 15 percent of the field. The move was generally seen as a positive one, and would set the gold standard for live tournaments all over the world in the years to come. The World Series of Poker held on to its approximate 10 percent payout for a long while but changed to 15 percent this year as well.
Now, Johnson announced they're upping the payout to pay out approximately 20 percent of the field in EPT events:
For EPT13, we are expanding our payouts out to 20 percent of the field. It isn't going to have the top-end impact that some people may think as we have decided that the minimum cash for all the players that we are adding between 15 percent and 20 percent will be between 1x-1.2x your buy-in. It's been something that we've been working on right down to the wire to make sure that the impact is overall a positive one for all players and also fits our goal of having more winners.
Johnson went on to say it's the goal of the EPT to provide more players a better experience while ensuring the winners still walk away with life changing money.
We reached out to some of the regulars on the tour and asked for their opinion on the subject:
"As professionals, it obviously hurts our immediate bottom line. Presumably, the EPT's goal is to keep money cycling through poker to try to boost numbers in the future and I hope this helps them achieve this goal."
"I understand the balance between rewarding a good amount of players in a tournament versus just the top. I'm curious, though, if there's data that supports players wanting this or if it's just in the best interests of a publically traded company.
Most players I've talked to dislike it because it removes the pressure from a tournament too early and then rewards a bunch of gambling right after the money, removing quite a bit of the skill and a ton of the pressure. We accepted the last increase years ago because we thought maybe it was necessary, but I'm not sure I agree here. If the data supports players actually wanting this then I'm in, but it doesn't seem that way in my opinion."
"While I do understand they want to keep the recreational players happy, I think 20 percent is way too much. I even think 15 percent was too much, I would be happy with paying out just 13 percent of the field."
I'm against paying out 20 percent of the field. If there's data to suggest this will increase numbers then I could understand EPT testing this in one single tournament to see how people react, but doing it across the board is way too drastic.
I think it's particularly important to make min-cashes bigger in reeentry events, I find them to be too small already. No-one wants to get in ITM and come out with less than they put in! I feel this attitude is particularly true in Super High Roller events."
What do you think?
While the comments from the pros above and general reaction on twitter have been mostly negative to the changes at first, that's not to say the majority feels that way. So what do you think?
The EPT starts today with the €10,300 High Roller, the €1,100 Estrellas Main Event, and the €440 PokerStars Cup. PokerNews will be on the ground providing live updates coming Saturday for the €50,000 Super High Roller tournament.