The 2023 PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC) concluded earlier this month, as Aliaksandr Shylko of Belarus outlasted a field of more than 1,000 competitors to take home a $3.12 million payday for winning the marquee No Limit Hold’em freezeout event at Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas.
— PokerStars LIVE (@PokerStarsLIVE) February 4, 2023
This year’s PSPC Main Event witnessed the on-the-felt continuation of introducing poker celebrities and casual players to high profile professionals from around the globe. Famous folks like Breaking Bad and Billions actor David Costabile, Teen Wolf actress Arden Cho, and longtime Team PokerStars Pro Andre Akkari of Brazil all competed in the tournament, which attracted 1,014 total runners.
With the 2023 PSPC has officially wrapped up, here is a look at how this year’s event compares to the inaugural PokerStars Players Championship that took place in 2019.
2023 PSPC vs. 2019 PSPC: By The Numbers
Similar to 2019, the 2023 PokerStars PSPC hosted players from 63 countries, spanning a total of six continents worldwide.
The United States was the most heavily-represented country during both events, with this year’s U.S. participation reaching 265 contestants.
However, the countries of Spain and France surpassed Canada in 2023 as the second and third most highly represented countries at the PSPC (132 players from Spain, 105 competitors from France, and 87 entrants from Canada). This number could be reflective of the event’s European popularity following Spaniard Ramon Colillas‘ inaugural PSPC victory in 2019.
Overall, 69 of the 418 Platinum Pass winners (16.5%) eventually cashed in the 2023 PSPC — a significant percentage-based increase over the 14.3% of Platinum Pass winners that cashed in the 2019 PokerStars PSPC (46 out of 320).
The event awarded 98 (30%) more Platinum Passes in 2023 than in 2019, and two Platinum Pass winners found themselves at the 2023 PokerStars PSPC final table (similar to 2019).
2023 PokerStars PSPC: A Truly “Global” Poker Tournament
Any high stakes live poker tournament that is capable of attracting competitors from six different continents (and 63 countries) has shown its ability to become a truly global affair.
The PokerStars Live brand has established an extremely unique format through its PSPC events in the Bahamas that pits the knowledge and skills of veteran poker pros against the aspirations of casual players as well as mainstream celebrities. To paraphrase legendary UFC announcer Bruce Buffer (who was also in attendance and competing after kickstarting the festivities), it was “the pros vs. the average Joes”.
Such an environment not only appeals to poker players throughout the world who get to achieve their “poker dream” by rubbing shoulders with some of the top poker professionals and content creators, but also ensures that these individuals are able to compete against each other for high stakes cash prizes.
2023 PokerStars PSPC: Participating Countries
265 USA, 132 Spain, 105 France, 87 Canada, 64 Germany, 60 United Kingdom, 43 Brazil, 18 Austria
17 Portugal, 16 Romania, 14 Ireland, 14 Russia, 13 Italy, 12 Argentina, 12 Hungary, 11 Bulgaria
10 Netherlands, 8 Lithuania, 6 Belgium, 6 Poland, 6 Ukraine, 5 Belarus, 5 Peru, 5 Finland, 5 Norway
4 Australia, 4 Colombia, 4 India, 4 Denmark, 4 Sweden, 4 Switzerland
3 Greece, 3 Latvia, 3 Thailand, 3 Venezuela, 3 Turkey
* More than two dozen other countries were represented in the 2023 PokerStars PSPC
Live Poker Boom in 2023 and Beyond?
High profile live poker tournaments such as the PokerStars Players Championship and others seem to be giving rise to a new “live poker boom,” especially when considering the multi-cultural, worldwide representation that PokerStars and other brands are able to attract through marketing and “poker vacation” awards.
Viewership numbers on both Twitch and YouTube tend to spike once action has played down to a few tables, especially when the high stakes competitors represent a blend of well-known pros, big-name celebrities, and unknown poker hopefuls — all of whom have a legitimate chance at a six (or even seven) figure payday.
Huge global poker festivals also allow hosting casinos to spread the game of poker 24 hours a day (even when televised tournaments are on break) through cash games, side events, and qualifier tournaments.
If the congenial mix of poker pros, poker celebrities, and poker hopefuls is able to be replicated on a consistent basis, chances are that live poker tournament fields will continue to increase due to the corresponding positive exposure (and massive participation numbers) that the game of poker receives during these events.