Party Poker has recently started running satellites to give its players the chance to qualify for the Main Event of the Canadian Open Poker Championships (COPC). The Stampede Casino in Calgary, Alberta will host the $5,000 buy-in event May 13th through May 17th. Party Poker is the only online poker room at which players can qualify for the tournament. Satellites for the Canadian Open Poker Championships prize package, which includes airfare, accommodations, and tournament entry, start as low as four dollars.
The Main Event is not your typical No-Limit Texas Hold’em multi-table tournament. Instead, it is a 128-player maximum heads-up event. The pairings will be drawn at Canadian Poker Tour (CPT) Ultimate Players Party on Wednesday, May 13th. 128 players will start the next day in best-of-three matches with starting chip stacks of 10,000. The remaining 64 players will battle it out on Friday, May 15th. Saturday and Sunday will feature multiple rounds, with the field narrowed to eight competitors by the end of Saturday and a champion crowned on Sunday. $4,600 of the $5,000 buy-in will go the prize pool.
Canadian Poker Tour President and CEO Kelly B. Kellner is excited about the tournament, saying,
“The heads up bracket format with best 2 out of 3 matches, $10,000 in starting chips and 20 minute blinds allows the cream to rise to the top and I look forward to crowning a new champion in May.”
2005 World Series of Poker Main Event Champion Joe Hachem said the structure of the Main Event was the best of any heads-up tournament in which he has ever played.
1996 WSOP Main Event Champion Huck Seed was the winner of last year’s COPC Main Event.
The Canadian Poker Tour, along with Canadian Poker Player magazine, was taken over by HeadsUp Entertainment Inc. in June 2006. HeadsUp is a television entertainment production company, focusing on poker programming. The COPC will be televised on the CPT’s official broadcast partner, the Score Television Network. Before HeadsUp Entertainment stepped in, both the CPT and the magazine were owned by Fifth Street Publishers Ltd. Canadian Poker Player magazine debuted in 2004 and featured columns by Daniel Negreanu, Jim “KrazyKanuck” Worth, and Lou Kreiger. Before having to shutdown because of a decline in advertising, the CPT had also begun a monthly mailbag with Canadian poker star, Gavin Smith. While the new CPT is underway, the magazine has yet to relaunch.
In addition to the Main Event, the COPC will feature four other tournaments, not counting satellites. Two of the events are $550 buy-in No-Limit Texas Hold’em tournaments, one is a $200 Pot-Limit Omaha tournament with re-buys, and one is a $1,100 No-Limit Texas Hold’em event. Satellites for the Main Event will run at 7:00pm on May 11th and 12th.
Party Poker, once the giant of the online poker world, ranks 4th in the industry in cash game traffic, according to PokerScout.com. In response to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in the United States, Party Poker withdrew from the U.S. market in November 2006, one of the first online poker rooms to do so. Party Poker lost a significant portion of its customer base, and while it has steadied the ship through a commitment to increasing its worldwide presence, it has yet to regain its pre-UIGEA status in the industry. PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, which still accept U.S. customers, have left Party Poker in the rearview mirror. The iPoker Network, home to such rooms as Titan Poker and CD Poker, is the lone room that does not accept Americans to rank ahead of Party Poker in cash game traffic. Party Poker is comfortably ahead of its next closest rival, the OnGame Network.