Season IV of the PartyPoker Premier League will begin on Thursday, and this year, poker's biggest-name players are traveling to Las Vegas for the occasion. The first three seasons of the PPL, a 12-person high-stakes televised tournament, were held in the U.K. This year, the event has moved across the pond to Las Vegas' new M Resort thanks to the hard work of Richar Fitoussi, vice president of international marketing, who helped bring the organizations together. Between the hefty $100,000 entry fees and the generous overlay, there will be much more than honor at stake when the pros converge on the M later this week.
Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu and Vanessa Rousso will be among those competing for a share of the $1.5 million prize pool. J.C. Tran will be on hand to defend his Season III title. PartyPoker also confirmed that David Benyamine, Roland de Wolfe, Tony G, Luke "Full Flush" Schwartz, and Yevgeniy "Jovial Gent" Timoshenko will participate.
Eleven top-flight pros will be joined by one PartyPoker online qualifier in the main event. Sixteen finalists won a trip to Las Vegas and entry into a satellite that will determine who fills the 12th spot on the roster. The finalists are also vying for a $100,000 sponsorship deal from PartyPoker.
The Premier League's unique structure offers the pros plenty of play for their money and makes for entertaining television. There are 12 preliminary eight-person single-table matches, so over the course of several days, each competitor plays in six heats. Blinds go up every 21 hands rather than at set intervals. Players accumulate points based on finishing order, earning ten points for each win, six points for second, four points for third, three points for fourth, and two points for fifth.
At the end of the preliminary rounds, the top four players automatically move on to the final table, and the bottom four are eliminated. The middle four play heads-up matches to determine who gets the last two spots in the final round. The starting stacks at the final table vary based on the number of points each player earned during the preliminary heats. From uneven starting points, the top six competitors play down to a winner.
Finnish pro Juha Helppi won the first PPL event in 2007, leaving a frustrated Phil Hellmuth in third. In season II, Andy Black was victorious over Roland de Wolfe and Tony G. De Wolfe and Mr. G finished in the money again in season III. After running over the field and winning three of his six preliminary matches, J.C. Tran beat Tony G heads up to earn the Premier League title and $300,000. This year the PPL buy-in is larger, so there will be even more cash on the line when Roland, Tony, and J.C. come together in Las Vegas to settle old scores.
PokerNews will be updating the preliminary heats daily, and when the final heat begins on Feb 12., we will be bringing you live updates directly from the M Resort & Casino.
While it's to late to qualify for the this year's PartyPoker Premier league, sign up for a free $50 with PartyPoker and start riding your bike towards next years PPL.