As part of the explosion in the popularity of online poker, Europe's most popular poker site, ladbrokespoker.com, is pumping $1.25m in added money into the 2005 Poker Million event.
The cash injection will make the Ladbrokes Poker Million Europe's richest televised poker tournament, following a decision by the sponsors, the world's biggest bookmaker, to pump $855,000 directly into the prize pool.
An additional $400,000 of bonuses will be offered to online qualifiers at ladbrokespoker.com prompting Albert Tapper, head of poker at Ladbrokes, to declare: "We have taken the decision to invest in the players, not in advertising. The popularity of Ladbrokespoker.com will do the talking!"
Cunningly, qualification for Europe's most famous poker tournament will be exclusively online and restricted to an elite field of just 72 players, playing for a $1m first prize.
With $855,000 added directly into the prize-fund, 72 places are worth $26,875 apiece but will be priced at only $17,500 on ladbrokespoker.com (this includes flights, accommodation and $1,000 spending money).
A staggering 44% of the prize pool is added money and the first prize is a guaranteed $1,000,000, making the event the best value outside of the recently introduced PPT.
Sadly, despite LadbrokesPoker.com claiming "offshore status" with its base on Gibraltar, American players are refused entry on to the site and are therefore unlikely to make the Poker Million line-up.
The barring arises through potential legal issues with Ladbrokes making up part of Hilton Group, which, of course, has a big U.S. presence - something the hotel giant are unwilling to jeopardise.
This will be the fourth Poker Million, a joint venture between Ladbrokes and promoter Barry Hearn's Matchroom Sport company.
30 million viewers worldwide were predicted to have watched the first Poker Million final - won by John Duthie, a 42 year old TV Director from London who now runs the European Poker Tour - which took place in the Hilton Hotel on the Isle of Man in November 2000.
Reportedly, TV coverage of Poker Million has become more extensive as more shows have been broadcast in subsequent years, with Jimmy White and Donnacha O'Dea taking the subsequent renditions.