COVID Can’t Stop the Craic as International Poker Open Goes Digital

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The International Poker Open (IPO) won’t be taking place in Dublin this year, but COVID-19 won’t stop the famous Irish craic.

International Poker Open
The International Poker Open is currently taking place on Unibet due to continued COVID-19 restrictions in Ireland. (Image: Unibet Poker)

In a change to proceedings, the annual mid-stakes festival is taking place on Unibet Poker this year. Satellites for the €300/$350 main event got underway on Monday, but a full schedule of MTTs will run until Monday, Oct. 26.

Organizers hoped the 2020 IPO would take place in the familiar surroundings of Dublin’s Bonnington Hotel, but even before Ireland imposed new COVID-19 restrictions, the decision was made to become another live-to-online convert.

International Poker Open Online

With the WPT, WSOP, and other tournament organizers turning to the internet for help this year, the IPO is leaning on its long-time sponsor, Unibet Poker. Together, they’ve compiled a 12-MTT schedule that includes a combination of low and mid-stakes offerings.

The star of the show is the two-day main event that will run from Oct. 24 to Oct. 25. In addition to a €50,000/$58,000 guarantee, Unibet Poker is hosting main event qualifiers throughout the week.

The other jewel in the IPO’s proverbial crown this year is a €500/$580 high roller. Like the main event, the high roller will run for two days between Oct. 25 and 26. Players can re-enter twice, and the winner will take home the lion’s share of a prize pool worth at least €25,000/$29,000.

Like most tournaments held in Ireland, the IPO is known for its extracurricular activities. The buy-ins are pitched at a level casuals and amateurs can afford in order to create a relaxed atmosphere.

Ever since the festival was first held in 2008, it’s become as much about the social side of poker as the game itself. That was certainly the case in 2019.

After 755 main event entrants became six, a deal was done. Negotiating a split between two players is hard enough, so a six-way deal suggests those involved were happy just to be at a final table.

Different Craic, Same Focus

The craic won’t be the same this year. Ireland has some of the strictest lockdown conditions in Europe, with most of the country in complete quarantine until December 1.

2020 IPO online schedule.
The 2020 IPO online schedule. (Image International Poker Open)

The IPO could have never taken place under those conditions, but its first outing online could be a success. Other live-to-online converts have flourished in recent months, most notably the WPT and WSOP.

The IPO may not be on the same level as those festivals, but we’ve seen smaller events like the Irish Poker Open and Grosvenor’s GUKPT Goliath do equally well online. So, while the craic might be different, the players will still have something to enjoy.

With live tournaments in Ireland out of the question until at least 2021, a digital IPO is the next best thing, and it couldn’t come at a better time for poker players.

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