A change of pace will take place at 888poker this month thanks to a new commitment to providing more value for online tournament players.
A recent announcement by the operator has signaled that the monthly “Whale” event, which commonly offers a prize pool of $200,000, will be increased to $500,000 on March 29.
More Money, More Players
Despite being somewhat short of the prizepools offered by Sunday Majors on sites such as PokerStars, the augmented event will be one of the largest offered by 888poker in recent months.
Back in December the site enjoyed a healthy amount of success with its Super Series XL $1 million Main Event. On that occasion the tournament attracted 1,794 players and, by the time the dust had settled, ‘Adza32’ from Bosnia-Herzegovina managed to scoop a $199,403 top prize.
Keen to build on this success, 888poker will be offering another enhanced prizepool; however, instead of costing $600 as the Super Series XL Main Event did, the $500,000 Whale will cost $530 to enter. For that price players will be furnished with a 10,000 chip starting stack and a 25-minute clock.
According to a press release from 888poker, the organizers are hoping to attract 900 players for the event and any more than that will be a bonus. Although this would leave the operator with a deficit of $50,000, 888poker appears to be happy to take this hit in order to increase its MTT repertoire.
Why the Change of Pace?
In addition to offering a $500,000 prizepool for the Whale, 888poker is also considering switching the tournament from a monthly proposition to a weekly one. Although the prize pool would remain at $200,000, players would be able to ante-up every weekend alongside many of the industry’s other Sunday Majors.
This change of tact appears to be part of a broader move towards a larger MTT roster. 888poker is now ranked as the second largest site by cash game volume according to PokerScout. However, the latest range of big money tournaments looks to be a way for the site to expand its MTT player base. Daily freerolls and direct entry satellites from $65 are clear signs that 888poker wants to attract as many low stakes tournament players as possible.
An Eye on the US?
Although the reason for 888’s new focus is unclear, the company clearly has its sights set on developing its brand in the poker industry. Traditionally, 888’s casino and sportsbook have performed well, but thanks to move towards “casual players” in recent years, poker has become a more valuable asset.
A recent takeover bid worth $1.1 billion by William Hill was rejected by 888 Holdings after being described as “too low”, which suggests the company is hopeful of continued growth in the coming months. In fact, as it stands, 888 is one of the operators set to profit the most from regulation in the US.
Thanks to its working relationship with the WSOP, 888poker is a prominent player in all three regulated states (New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware) and this desire to improve its MTT offerings in Europe could be linked to bigger plans involving the US market such as potential liquidity sharing (although this is likely a long way off).