The conclusion of the PokerStars-sponsored Campeonato España de Poker (CEP) tour in Barcelona marked a significant milestone, with the CEP Main Event drawing an astounding crowd of nearly 2000 entries. This unprecedented turnout has set the stage for the upcoming prestigious European Poker Tour (EPT) Barcelona, while tax-related concerns loom and expectations of record-breaking participation abound.
The CEP Main Event, which featured a €550 buy-in, attracted a record-breaking 1960 players. This accomplishment solidified the Main Event's position as the largest in CEP history, surpassing the previous record set four years prior with 1773 registrations. The surge in participation reflects an impressive growth of nearly 50% compared to the previous year's event.
Held at Casino Barcelona from August 11, the 2023 CEP Barcelona stop experienced strong turnouts, despite uncertainties stemming from recent tax changes in Spain.
The trend of robust participation was evident from the outset of the CEP, with various events reporting exceptional attendance. The opening event, with a €330 entry fee, witnessed 822 entries—almost double the attendance of the previous year's edition. Similarly, the Mini Main Event, featuring a €200 buy-in, saw 786 participants, marking a significant 30% increase compared to the previous year.
The culmination of this enthusiasm was the Main Event's remarkable achievement, resulting in a total prize pool of €854,560 across its five Day 1s.
The CEP festival aligns with a broader global trend of increased interest in live poker events. From the World Series of Poker (WSOP) to regional events in Europe and Asia, record-breaking attendance is becoming the norm, underscoring the undeniable demand for live poker experiences.
With the CEP chapter coming to a close, attention now shifts to the highly anticipated European Poker Tour (EPT) Barcelona.
Commencing on August 21, the PokerStars LIVE Estrellas Poker Tour (ESPT) commenced, serving as an integral part of the main EPT festival.
EPT Barcelona, a cornerstone of PokerStars' European destinations, is renowned for attracting substantial crowds. The city's rich poker history dates back to 2004, hosting significant stops of the European Poker Tour. Last year, both the ESPT and EPT Main Events set attendance records, with the €5300 EPT Main Event becoming the largest-ever in EPT history, drawing 2294 players.
However, this year's EPT Barcelona faces a unique challenge due to recent tax changes in Spain. These alterations impose taxes on poker players' winnings, affecting both local and international participants, irrespective of their professional or recreational status.
While European Union players face a 19% tax rate, non-EU players contend with a higher 24% rate. This change in tax classification has raised concerns and uncertainty among players about the sustainability of EPT Barcelona's historically impressive turnouts.
Nevertheless, the record-breaking attendance during the CEP festival provides assurance, suggesting another prosperous EPT Barcelona edition on the horizon.
Running from August 21, the EPT Barcelona series features the prestigious €5300 EPT Main Event scheduled from August 27 to September 3. Online satellites on the PokerStars platform have already begun, with buy-ins starting as low as €5.50.