From “IRL to URL.” That’s the stance Unibet Poker has taken as it looks to keep its tournaments rolling during the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement came from Unibet HQ on Monday and outlined the company’s intentions for the rest of the year.
Using the “IRL (in real life) to URL (universal resource locator)” moniker, the plan is to host all Unibet Open and UK Poker Tour events online in 2020.
Unibet Poker Takes Stand During Uncertain Times
The coronavirus has forced the change but, unlike some operators, Unibet isn’t willing to hedge its bets. While the WSOP, WPT, and other tours are hoping to run live events later in the year, Unibet’s head of events, Nataly Sopacuaperu, has taken a stand.
Favoring certainty during uncertain times, she believes consistency and safety are paramount right now.
“This is not a decision we have taken lightly. We fully understand the impact to our partners and the land-based venues, however, as a priority, we must consider not only the health of our customers, but also the difficulty for recreational players with regards to planning trips,” Sopacuaperu said.
Acknowledging that recreational players are important for Unibet, the site has worked to make poker “fun” since launching its own platform in 2014. This ethos has filtered into its live events, meaning it often attracts an equal mix of pros and casual players.
Adapting to Suit All Players in Post-Coronavirus World
To maintain some level normalcy, Sopacuaperu has asked the community for ideas on how to bring something extra to its online events.
“Staying true to their recreational roots, Unibet teams are already planning how to bring the fun associated with the land-based product to the online world, over and above the tournaments,” Sopacuaperu continued.
Unibet had already committed to hosting one of its Open events online. As coronavirus took hold in March, Unibet Open Tallinn was postponed and combined with the Unibet Online Series VIII.
The merged festival will now run from May 1 to May 24 and will feature 132 MTTs, including the €1,100/$1,180 Unibet Open main event.
The $1 million series will also mark the start of the new online calendar. Fall and winter editions will follow, with dates to be determined for September and December, respectively.
Perhaps the most interesting takeaway from the announcement is that this may be the start of a new era in poker. Although no one can know what the future holds, there’s an emerging belief that the coronavirus will alter social interaction for good.
If that’s true, live poker may never be the same again. Unibet is already looking to embrace a “new version of normal” by making its MTT schedule fit a post-coronavirus world.