Saturday July 28,2012 : GUARANTEE CONCERNS ON GIANT LIVE-ONLINE TOURNAMENT (Update)
 
Is this $20 million ISPT prize pool guaranteed or not?
 
The organisers of the inaugural event of the ambitious International Stadiums Poker Tour have generated massive publicity on their 30,000 player project, much of it based on the sheer scale of the event and the player-pulling Euro 20 million guaranteed prize pool involved, but this week fears arose that the prize pool would not be guaranteed as promised.
 
Message boards like twoplustwo lit up with posts noting that organisers Laurent Tapie and Prosper Masquelier had quietly removed the key word ‘guarantee' from the ISPT website blurb on the planned first outing, at Wembley Stadium in London next year.
 
The concerns peaked further when a company press statement compounded the change by again not mentioning any guarantee and referring to the previously clearly quantified prize pool as ‘approximately Euro 20 million."
 
Trying to keep a sense of balance in difficult circumstances, the ISPT's UK spokesman, Stephen McClean braved message board posters and demanding reporters alike as he first assured players that the guarantee was, well, guaranteed but then had to fudge the issue by explaining that Masquelier had assured him the cash would be held in escrow at online payment processor Skrill (formerly Moneybookers).
 
Unfortunately, especially in an environment where player speculation and concern was growing, McClean could not elaborate further, saying that the organisers would release details only on September 3 when a further press conference was planned.
 
If ever there was a need for a clarifying statement on the issue, it is now.
 
In the interim, the relevant thread on the influential message board twoplustwo ballooned into 42 pages and counting as players and industry people speculated on the problems involved in everything from finances and profitability aspects to regulatory approvals and logistical concerns like electrical capacity and resources.
 
The concept behind the ISPT project is to organise the first combined online and live tournament in poker history, with up to 30,000 players initially buying in for around Euro 600 each to play on "tactile tablets" in internationally famous stadia stands, playing down to around 3,000 finalists who will then compete at live tables on the floor of the stadium.