The 2023 PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship (PSPC) got underway on Monday and, as Gambling.com discovered, it’s the ideal event for American poker players.
Although a $25,000 buy-in poker tournament is beyond the means of most players, PokerStars went Platinum Pass crazy in 2022. The end result was 400 qualifiers anteing up in the biggest event of their lives and, more importantly, one of the biggest $25,000 poker tournaments in history.
Gambling.com’s Daniel Smyth joined the throngs of hopefuls at Baha Mar in the Bahamas to see what all the fuss was about. As players started their journeys towards a multi-million-dollar payday, Daniel caught up with PokerStars ambassador Nick Walsh.
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Nick Walsh on PokerStars Caribbean Adventure
The American, who has called England home since childhood, has a unique perspective on the game. After discovering the game at university, he became a full-time pro grinding out a living online.
He parlayed his success as a pro, along with a $150,000 Spin & Go win, into a streaming career.
Is he a poker player turned streamer or a streamer who plays poker? In reality, it doesn’t matter, but Walsh identifies as the former. What does matter, however, is that he can reach the masses and make poker accessible to everyone as a streamer and commentator.
“If people ask me, I’m a professional in the sense that poker is still a game I make a living from. However, my main focus is creating content for people to enjoy poker and grow the sport,” Walsh told Gambling.com.
Walsh and those like him are certainly doing that. Day 1 of the 2023 PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship attracted more than 1,000 players, 400 of whom won their seats via Platinum Pass promotions.
“Platinum passes were given out for so many reasons. Nikhil Segel is a good example. He was given a pass in 2019, but he got a second one this time around because he continued to be a champion of the people. He dedicated time to supporting others getting a Platinum Pass. He was putting out such good karma into the world, he got a second pass,” Walsh continued.
This spirit of giving embodied the lead-up to this year’s $25,000 event, and it hasn’t stopped now we’re in the Bahamas. Qualifiers have been given to a steady stream of treats, including a beach party complete with Bahamian dancers and fireworks.
An Event that Everyone Wants to Play
Walsh is on commentary duty, but he’s also been caught up in the excitement. For him, having the $10,000 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure main event as a warm-up is not only unprecedented but an example of just how big the PSPC is.
This appeal hasn’t been lost on American poker players. The combination of qualifiers, exotic climes, and a top prize approaching $5 million has brought out many of America’s top pros, including Justin Bonomo, Dan Smith, and Isaac Haxton.
“An interesting point to mention is the number of Americans we’ve had at this event. The proximity to the U.S. is a big thing, but I also think it’s because some of the best players in the world realize there’s a ton of action down here and it’s an event not to be missed,” said Walsh.
By all accounts, the PokerStars Players No Limit Hold’em Championship has been a success. That’s a win for PokerStars but, as Walsh explained, it’s also a win for poker. These types of events aren’t just for pros. They’re a throwback to the poker boom and a time when tournament fields were a mix of aspiring amateurs, recreational players, and circuit regulars.
Poker Boom 2.0
Is this the second poker boom? It certainly feels that way. There were similar vibes during the 2022 WPT World Championship in Las Vegas. More qualifiers are giving big events a fresh lease of life and, importantly, a sense of vibrancy that, for a time, was lost.
Poker is in a good place and the PSPC epitomizes the upswing we’re experiencing as a community. What’s more, it serves as a blueprint for what’s possible when you give amateurs a chance to play on the big stage.
“You can really feel that people are happy to be back playing live poker. I’m really excited about the future of poker and live poker in general. I feel like we’re moving in a positive direction and the PSPC is a really great event to get us back into the swing of things,” Walsh said.
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