Edgar Stuchly, EPT President (part 2)
Edgar Stuchly, EPT President (part 2)
The second part of our exclusive interview with the EPT President on the future of the tour
The second part of our exclusive interview with EPT President Edgar Stuchly, for the first part click here
IPB When you first came on board, you said: ‘The goal now is to take the EPT to another level, in terms of improving the experience for players and expanding the tour into burgeoning poker markets in Europe.’ What specific markets were you talking about?
ES There are a lot of regions, especially in Eastern Europe. We’re still working on the possibility to host an EPT there but the process is ongoing. When regulations allow, I would be happy to host an EPT in Russia or Hungary. Hopefully in the near future we will enter new markets. EPT is so big, especially now in Season 9, but we don’t have too many possibilities at the moment.
IPB The tour went to Greece for the first time in season 8. Is that going to be a regular stop?
ES We won’t be going this season. We got a lot of feedback from players that they like the stops we have on the calendar but don’t like to travel too much. It’s not the future goal of EPT to run a lot of events throughout the year where we can maybe expect 400-450 players. Also, the venues aren’t big enough and we’re clearly targeting the mark of 1,000 players. We’re not prepared to go somewhere we can’t deliver a good experience.
IPB Is 1,000 players a realistic figure for every main event?
ES That’s our goal. In the next couple of years we want 800-1,000 players. Maybe we can increase that number to 2,000 in a few years’ time. Let’s see where we are going. We’ve dropped five stops. We listened to the player feedback and took a look at main event player numbers. We tried to increase the possibility for players to qualify online and trying to not have four or five EPTs at the same time in the qualification process. I’m really keen on having 1,000 players.
IPB Are most of the EPT’s profits derived from the main events?
ES It’s a huge challenge. We are providing the players with a great experience and we want to offer them a variety of games. Having additional events and huge festivals does not mean the profits will increase. Overall, we take on board a lot of the costs and we invest money into new experiences to provide the players with the best events they can get and promote more interest and excitement around the game. This will contribute to improving our overall business.
IPB Are you looking to season 10 and what you might do with that?
ES Right now we are already planning and settling on S10, but we still want to have proper feedback from our players on S9, to see if we are heading in the right direction. EPT is so big and sometimes it’s a real challenge finding the right locations, hotels and partners. The possibilities to hold an EPT tour are very limited, even in big cities like London or Barcelona.
IPB Are there a lot of locations that want to host the EPT but are unable to?
ES Yes, we have some venues that we can’t go with EPT because it’s too big. We get a lot of feedback from the players that they don’t want to travel too much, to reduce the number of stops, and make the other stops really big. If you reduce the number of stops, you can deliver more poker. For example, in Barcelona we have 47 events. There are a lot of venues and partners that would like to host EPT, but the possibilities are really tough as it can also be limited because of licensing.
IPB Would you say EPT festivals are now big enough to have a markedly positive influence on the local businesses and revenue?
ES Of course, when EPT is in town it brings millions of euros in revenue to the region. There are about 2,500-3,000 players who stay for about a week and they spend a lot of money. Hotels, restaurants, nightclubs and tourist attractions all benefit from this influx of people who enjoy going out, having a good time and spending money.
IPB Are there any hard statistics on how the EPT affects the footfall and revenue for the casino that is hosting it?
ES The revenue and the action in the casino during the EPT is about five times more than normal. You can’t break it down for all events. The casino doesn’t provide us with their official numbers. Sometimes it varies – it can go up to eight times as much if it’s very busy. During the week in most casinos it’s not as busy as the weekends. If EPT hits, sometimes there are 800-900 poker players who just enter the casino.
IPB How would you rate the poker economy compared to five years ago?
ES It’s getting harder, but there is a lot of potential. Due to the economic situation there is maybe an impact on the amount of big buy-in events. I still think there are a lot of interested people who are playing poker, who like the challenge. The economic situation is not as favourable as it was several years ago, so I think now the players are more selective about where they spend their money.
IPB Does that mean you think the future of EPT is in recreational players?
ES Of course, I think that is the future of EPT festivals. €5,000 is a lot of money and many players can’ afford that buy-in. We want to welcome them to the EPT, so we offer a lot of buy-ins starting from €300 and lower buy-in satellites. You can enjoy the same experience as a main event player for a smaller buy-in.
IPB From your experience of managing casinos what can you bring to the EPT?
ES Getting the players point of view and trying to implement the elements they are looking for. At the end of the day, the most important stuff is to listen very carefully to the needs of the players. We heard they like to have free parties, good internet connection, and a better tournament area. There are a lot of changes but first we are making the tour accessible to more players.
IPB The WPT is developing into a much more international tour. Can the WPT and EPT co-exist peacefully?
ES We will set the benchmark with the new EPTs. There are other tours around and they deserve other clients and markets, but at the end of the day, there is one huge tour and that is EPT.
IPB Do you look at the WPT schedule and try to work around it?
ES We’re always looking out for the interest of the players. They tell us they don’t want conflicts in major tournaments. So we do try to take into account both other live tournaments as well as the big PokerStars tournaments, such as the World Championship of Online Poker (WCCOP) and the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP).
IPB If the US market is legalised will it affect the future of what you do?
ES It will for sure affect the qualifying numbers. We have a lot of qualifiers now even without the US market, but years ago there used to be a huge amount of qualifiers from the US. Of course we expect some impact on that. The PCA will be affected really strongly, I think.
IPB The EPT has been very successful for the last eight seasons. Could you have kept the status quo and continued to see success?
ES Of course we could have. It’s really a clear goal of the EPT to drive and deliver the best event to players on the planet. It’s the wrong decision to wait to make improvements and wait till you see numbers dropping. It’s a point to move forward before you get a lot of requests from the players. I have a vision of a perfect event, even though no event can be perfect as there is always something that needs improving. We have to go in the direction to make EPT a huge sporting event and to deliver the best experience.