Last week's Ultimate Poker Challenge (UPC) has created new records for 2012 as far as attendance numbers are concerned with the first event of the weekend surpassing the 3-figure mark! And not only that, the follow-up events too pulled in a terrific response leading to the best turnouts a tournament poker brand has seen since last year.
The first event of the UPC was the INR 5,000 Freezeout which saw a field of 103 players take part. The 10k event saw 82 participants and the 25k Main Event had 64 players coming together. There were guarantees on three of the four events for the weekend but this may have been only a small factor in the overall scenario. A three figure field was last seen way back in the October edition of the India Poker Championship (IPC). In fact 103 was the exact same number which the IPC too had achieved back then. But the cracks were beginning to show...
The end of 2010 and most of 2011 was the golden period for tournament poker in Goa and while it could have meant bigger and better things to come for the scene, the short sighted approach taken by some venues in packing the poker calendar with a whole bunch of tourneys led to an overkill situation. The burgeoning tournament poker scene in Goa was cut down before it had a chance to fully blossom. For a market in the absolute nascent stage of growth, it was essential that a structured and evenly spaced out calendar was introduced in order to ensure that numbers would at least remain steady if not flourish over the course of 2012. It's pretty obvious that did not happen this year and what its really become is a struggle for survival
With the way things went by in the early half of the year, the latter half has been about damage control. Even with the best of intentions, tournament organisers are trying to make the best of a bad situation by offering additional incentives to players in the form of tournament seats, live and online satellite tournaments which offer tournament packages, going rake-free and of course guaranteed prizepools. In some cases it has worked where a brand like PokerGuru has managed to attract numbers through its rakefree events but on the other hand the pressure of survival has forced a brand like IPP to shut shop.
It was back in May this year that two powerhouses from the Indian poker fraternity, India Poker Championship (IPC) and Aces Unlimited, teamed up and brought forth the Ultimate Poker Challenge (UPC). As these organisers have mentioned in the past, consolidation of both brands was about surviving the bleak scenario and even hoping to grow once things steadied themselves. The weekend thats gone by has perked up many of the existing players, with the thought of better numbers in Goa poker tournaments going ahead. And while there is no way to be immediately certain about this, hopefully the turnouts at this recent UPC are a sign of things to come and one hopes for the sake of the India poker story, this is a signal of a turnaround where things come back on track.
PokerNews India reported live from the Ultimate Poker Challenge and in case you missed any of the action, you can read all about it at the live reporting blog.