On Sunday, PokerStars.com launched their version of the original, Twitter Poker Tour. They stole the idea, and branded it for PokerStars along with introducing some big guarantees ($25,000 in annual prizes). Their buy in was a measly $1 + .10, and their tourney churned out more than 2,000 participants. Their @pokerstars twitter dude was posting messages with tournament updates throughout their 7 hour event, and fellow tweeps on Twitter were hash-tagging the #tpoker label, creating quite a twitter buzz about the event.
I have mixed feelings about this. #tpoker obviously saw what the Twitter Poker Tour was doing, and thought about doing it themselves. PokerStars obviously copied the TPT as they copied our once a week schedule, our leaderboard concept, and used their own money to fuel their prize packages, and also began the same way that we had with twitter updates throughout the course of the event. While it was successful for PokerStars, I don’t know what this will mean of the TPT.
2 years ago when the TPT began, I found it on PokerStars as that was the only site that I played online poker on back then. At the time, the TPT revolved between Full Tilt and PokerStars, bouncing between the two sites, with 1 week at Stars, and the next week on Tilt. I made my first $50 deposit on an online poker site to Full Tilt for the sole reason of competing in the TPT on a weekly basis with the hopes of winning a leaderboard contest.
About a year ago, we made the decision to switch our games exclusively to 1 site in order to help grow the events and the league. We thought that by focusing on 1 site, and not dividing our games between 2 platforms would help to increase participation. I think it has, as in the good ole days, you’d get 3 tables, and now we have 5 or 6 regularaly. But the increase in participation hasn’t been as large as I thought that it should be.
In an effort to bring something new to the league, we started of the TPT Live show. Originally it was an idea to coincide with the Bad Beat on Cancer Charity tournament that we were running in November. That event drew a record number of participants for us, and was a tremendous success, raising thousands for the Prevent Cancer Foundation and cancer research and prevention. Guest Andrew Feldman, Andy Bloch, Jason Rosenkrantz, and Prevent Cancer’s Jan Maher joined us for the show, and more than a dozen pro’s helped us make it our best event ever.
Because we saw an uptick in numbers with the show, we kept it. But we never came close the 2000+ players that PokerStars hit on Sunday. I think much of the reason goes to the advertising that PokerStars did for their tournament series, and their guarantee that they decided to offer. I expect much of that to be an overlay.
I’m more than a little upset that they stole the concept. But I’m VERY upset that they stole the concept after we’d come to them a year ago with the opportunity and received ZERO response. We gave PokerStars every opportunity to brand the Twitter Poker Tour, advertise it, and include something with a value added, but they apparently saw none.
Carbon Poker expressed some interest as well, but frankly we had too many problems with their user interface, and their cash uploading/deposit system was just simply too complex for our group. So we elected to go with Full Tilt because they came to us with a Sunday Brawl ticket as a prize, whereas PokerStars offered ZIP, ZILCH, ZERO, NADA----ABOSLUTELY NOTHING. They expressed no interest in us or our idea, and they weren’t willing to stand behind the idea. A year later, they’re making it work, and they’re doing it on their own.
This part got me royally pissed off.
I spent 24 hours thinking about it, and decided this robbery could be a good thing for us. I intend to re-approach Full Tilt Poker and let them know about the opportunity to one-up PokerStars and their underhanded league. With the TPT Live show, and a devoted player base to the Twitter Poker Tour, and the involvement of so many of the pro’s that are willing to play with us on a regular basis, I think that Full Tilt should take a serious look at helping us advertise the TPT, and offering a guarantee to help fuel new deposits and new signups on their site. With connections that I’ve made at the WSOP, and through our connections at the TPT, I think that there is merit in our league and in the idea. But more importantly, with Full Tilt’s chief competitor already having their own Twitter Poker League, I think that it will be very important for Full Tilt to develop a similar league to get behind in order to compete.
I don’t intend to play in any PokerStars events…really ever. They’ve really turned me off with this move. With the money that I currently have, I’ll probably transfer it to a friend for a Full Tilt Transfer and be done with their site for good. I’m that angry with it. But for now, I’m hopeful that Full Tilt will begin to take the TPT more seriously, seeing how successful the PokerStars version was. It could be a very profitable and viable means for increasing their revenues if they put some effort into it.