Ladbrokes planning giant poker game

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LADBROKES, the bookmaker and gaming operator, is to invest £3 million in its Poker Million tournament next year in an effort to turn the event into a European competitor to Las Vegas’s World Series of Poker.
This year’s World Series of Poker, which is owned by Harrah’s Entertainment, the US casino giant, was the biggest live poker tournament so far, with about 8,700 players competing for more than $82 million (£44 million) in prize money

But John O’Reilly, managing director of Ladbrokes’s e-gaming division, said that more than half the players had qualified on the internet and future events would be hit by the US ban on online gambling transactions introduced last week under the aegis of the Safe Port Act.

“The Act opens up a huge opportunity for an offline poker tournament in Europe to rival the World Series,” he said.

“Poker Million is already the biggest poker event in Europe and we believe that by investing in the tournament and changing the format, London may rival the World Series.”

This year’s Poker Million tournament, which is run by Ladbrokes in conjunction with the sports promoter Barry Hearn, will culminate in all those who have qualified via attending a week-long final at its new casino in Paddington that is televised on Sky Sports.

The winner will pocket $1.2 million out of a total prize pool of $4.1 million.

Mr O’Reilly said that the extra investment would enable Ladbrokes to double the prize money on offer at next year’s Poker Million tournament and attract players from a wider pool.

PartyGaming said last week that it would take a one-off charge of $250 million on the cost of closing down its US operations after the effective outlawing of online gambling.


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