PokerStars: PSPC Postponed Beyond 2021

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PokerStars will keep the PSPC on ice for now.

The PokerStars Players No-Limit Hold'em Championship (PSPC) will remain on ice until at least the end of the year, the company announced in a Wednesday press release.

"We feel we cannot guarantee the safety of our players and our staff," explained PokerStars' Severin Rasset in a video accompanying the presser. "Of course, it's our responsibility to make sure that we can operate in the optimal conditions."

The second running of the PSPC — after the January 2019 bonanza that sent the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure out with a bang — had been originally scheduled for Barcelona in 2020 but was pushed to 2021 after the COVID-19 pandemic effectively ended live poker for almost a year.

Current State of European Live Poker Tournaments

The news comes as little shock, considering live poker in Europe has yet to get off the ground to the extent large festivals are being run. While several big events have run stateside, the cross-border travel necessary to facilitate liquidity in Europe throws a large number of extra variables into the equation, variables that will need to be sorted out before anything the size of PSPC runs.

That being said, there have been a few indicators that things are inching in the right direction.

Both the World Poker Tour and PokerStars have run events in Sochi. In fact, the ongoing European Poker Tour Sochi marks the second running of the flagship PokerStars brand there since the pandemic, following one last October.

Sochi presents a bit of a special case because of the majority of the entries there come from Russian players, minimizing the need for cross-border travel.

Casino Sochi
Sochi appears to the center of European live poker, for now.

Even though the EPT appears likely to take another year off aside from Sochi — it's currently the only locale scheduled to host a live event on the official PokerStars Live site — there are still some events planned to run in the coming months.

A new series dubbed The Festival has already announced upcoming stops in Estonia and Slovakia, with the first scheduled for June.

The Hendon Mob also lists a Russian Poker Tour event in Belarus on the upcoming schedule in April.

Third Time the Charm?

After a second postpone, this one appearing to be indefinite, many will justifiably wonder if the PSPC will run in Barcelona at all. However, PokerStars appears unready to wave the white flag on the event, with the few public words from the company in the past year consistently indicating it's going to happen eventually.

In 2020's initial postponement, PokerStars said it was "committed" to running the PSPC in Barcelona, and maintained firmly that Platinum Passes — the $30,000 tickets the company was giving away — were non-refundable and non-transferable.

Rasset's words in the most recent announcement backed up that stance once more.

"I want to reiterate our commitment to this tournament," he said. "It's something we absolutely loved when we did it in 2019. It was a blast for our community."

As for exactly when that would happen, PokerStars was non-committal, saying only they couldn't provide exact dates but it "will not go ahead this year." Rasset said they hope to run "as soon as the situation allows."

Most likely, poker players itching for the high-value $25K — the plan remains to have 400 qualifiers in the field — will have to wait until sometime in 2022. The smart money would appear to be on the PSPC running then, likely in EPT Barcelona's regular slot of August to early September.

Those eagerly awaiting the second PSPC should keep an eye out for Platinum Pass promotions to begin making their return. Whenever those begin to ramp up, it's a safe bet that the PSPC is around the corner.

"Please bear with us and we're gonna get a great event as soon as we can," Rasset said.

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