I’ve always shied away from the title ‘Poker Journalist’ for lots of reasons. First off, I think of the word ‘journo’ that always to me signified the image if the ‘gutter press’. Second, a bit of poker snobbery here, but most poker journalists I know got into the game through journalism not the other way round, and I always had to make a point that I am a player first and foremost and the journalism side of things just kind of happened through my love of the game. Finally, although a lot of what I write is of interesting and entertaining subject matter to poker players – it’s hard to call it journalism – its more nicey nicey, tournament reports, marketing, strategy, jokey poker quips or otherwise very easy reading.
But I did write a piece the other day that made me feel a bit like a proper journalist. Not so much the feature itself which was pieced together from several sources over the net, but what went before it. I had seen on several forums concerns that a tournament called the UK Poker Championships was a complete scam. I rang them up ready to give them a Roger Cook style earbashing but they never answered their phone, I did the same by email but a week later no reply. I was a bit nervy putting this on Pokernews, simply because if they are in the latter group of people I suggested of a naive bunch of amateurs, I could be really pissing on their bonfire by accusing them of shenanigans on the biggest poker news website in the world, but a week on and no reply I think they have had adequate time to respond.
This is the item here. Basically it’s a £100 tournament that claims to have a £100,000 first prize despite very little other information being on offer and one of the shadiest websites I have seen. Imo I think it could well be a scam.
Here are the main concerns:
First of all, the numbers simply don't make sense. The website claims £100,000 first prize for a 750 runner £100 buy-in event, with another nine players getting paid. Where is the £25,000 overlay coming from and also, where is the money for the rest of the winning players? It doesn't specify whether rebuys are part of the event or not. The website doesn't use the word 'guarantee' at all with regards to the prize pool.
Secondly, only ten players from a possible 750 make the money, this smacks of inexperience of the industry as few players would ever turn up for such a top heavy payout structure.
Numbers are dropping for live events round the country and APAT, the GUKPT and the Brighton Rendezvous are all holding big festivals that clash with the event (APAT have almost 450 players guaranteed for their event)– where are these 750 players coming from?
There is no mention of the starting chip stack or structure online. When you go to the rules section it merely presents a very basic texas hold'em rules guide, rather than which set of tournament rules the event subscribes to.
The City of Manchester Stadium have confirmed that the event has provisionally reserved but nothing concrete has been signed yet. This event would also most likely clash with a Manchester City home game, which could cause a problem down the line.
The sponsors of the event are US telephone provider AT&T - how did this come around? Normally an online poker room would be the natural choice of sponsor, not a USA based phone company. Surely someone such as at&t would opt to sponsor someone such as the World Series of Poker rather than a debut £100 event in Manchester? The banner for at&t does not include a hyperlink to the at&t website, which is again odd.
You have to pay for the event with a credit/debit card after one of their representatives calls you. You have to register an interest online and then await a phone call, rather than being able to ring them directly to register. A number of people have been contacted by the call centre (And when they are the phone number is blocked) and been told that over 1000 people have registered an interest, yet the call staff have rang several players multiple times to request payment for the event from them.
One source said they were told that Circus Poker would be holding an online feeder with a live final at Manchester235. Stanley's Casino (Circus Poker) have confirmed they know nothing about this and Manchester235 is a Caesars Casino, it seems very unlikely that they would work in conjunction together.
Not much in the way of marketing has been done other than flyers outside casinos. No websites or magazines have been promoting the event, nor has any representatives appeared on the forums to promote or defend the tour.
The website is very basic, contains no tournament structure information and does not include any terms & conditions. The listed phone number does not appear to work when called.
So hopefully the organisers won’t come and find me and take my kneecaps from me. Their silence speaks volumes and I doubt we will hear from them again.