Southern Europe is set to welcome yet another massive poker festival, this time courtesy of PokerStars. The world’s largest online poker site will host the “Carnaval Series”, which will give away €15 million in total guarantees, split into two separate festivals that will cater to players in France, Spain, Portugal, as well as Italy. The series gets underway on February 21, just over a month after the record-breaking Winamax Series.
Two Carnaval Series for Southern Europe
The upcoming Carnaval Series will take place as two separate festivals.
The first one will cater to players in France, Spain, and Portugal, and will take place from February 21 to March 11. The schedule features more than 270 events, with entry fees starting at €5. The festival will give away €10 million in guarantees. The main highlight will be the €500,000-guaranteed Main Event which has a buy-in of €250. Satellites will also be available which players can enter for as low as €0.50.
Players in Italy will not be left out as they too will have their own Carnaval Series running from February 21 to March 7. Italians are set to compete for €5 million in guaranteed prize money, €500,000 of that will come from the Mai Event. The smaller version of the series brings in a total 105 MTTs.
Battle for Dominance Continues
PokerStars’ latest festival offering is in response to Winamax’s massive series in January. With a record-breaking guarantee of €20 million, the 29th installment of Winamax’s flagship tournament festival is the largest ever that the operator has run in the European segregated market. The latest Winamax Series managed to match the record created by PokerStars back in 2018 when it hosted the €20 million-guaranteed Winter Series.
With the Carnaval Series, PokerStars will try to reinforce its dominance in Southern Europe and it wants to make sure all of its players in the region will get the chance to participate by bringing the festival across its four active markets.
PokerStars became the first operator to launch in Europe’s shared liquidity network. In 2018, the site began operating its French-Spanish site, giving players from both countries the opportunity to compete with each other, creating a sizable player pool. Portugal soon joined the shared liquidity agreement, giving PokerStars access to more players. Italy also signed the deal but it has yet to implement it, which is why Italian players still cannot take part in shared liquidity games and tournaments.
No Room for Complacency
Contrary to PokerStars, Winamax only caters to players in France and Spain, but it has remained a key player in the Southern European region, challenging PokerStars’ dominance.
In January 2021, Winamax hosted the latest edition of its flagship tournament festival, the Winamax Series, and it was able to create some noise after awarding more than €20 million in total prize money, recording new highs in Southern Europe.
The series featured 198 events, including the Main Event which came with a record-breaking guarantee of 4.8 million, making it the largest single MTT in the segregated European market. Winamax was able to pull in the numbers despite the limited player pool. It’s a milestone for the site, considering the tough gaming restrictions that are currently in effect in the region.
With the dynamics consistently evolving in the world of poker, PokerStars needs to step up its efforts if it wants to maintain its status as the leading operator in Southern Europe and across the world. The COVID-19 pandemic allowed certain competitors to soar high, such as GGPoker which quickly rose to prominence after holding massive festivals in 2020.
Given its wider reach, PokerStars can very well shatter Winamax’s record via the upcoming Carnaval Series, but only time will tell.

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