While Manitoba Lotteries took it’s time in entering the major tournament poker series market here in Canada, it appears that the end results of their deliberation now scheduled for Mc Phillips Station Casino in Winnipeg were well worth waiting for. Which, from where and how many players will make the trip to the Prairie Province’s capital city for the 3 event series in April remains anybody’s guess, but there are a few factors that can help in making predictions…
Manitoba players, much like in Ontario have been kept almost “larger buy-in poker starved” when it comes to local, larger prize and field events. Similar to their neighbors in the east, this has resulted in a fair number of top online players, who otherwise traveled the country or headed south to satisfy cravings for the live action that every proficient player has, especially when track records on the virtual felts or on the road point to having a significant edge over those less experienced or bankrolled.
While there are regular lower limit and smaller field events in both areas, logging hours in larger live events has previously required the overhead costs of travel, accommodations and meals that quickly add up, generally speaking, players have to be pretty confident in their abilities on the felts to expect profits. Those in Manitoba that fit the bill, turned up in masses at Casino Regina’s bi-annual poker series, while a smaller group of the area’s elite would extend their poker borders to larger Canadian events like the Fallsview Poker Classic, COPC and the BCPCs. Regina’s events have traditionally had some very decent turnouts, with some Alberta players making the almost 800km trip. Looking at the 2010 Harvest Classic results clearly shows a good portion of players also made the almost 600km haul from the Winnipeg area to mix it up. This year’s Station Poker Classic in Regina is scheduled just two weeks prior to the inaugural series in Manitoba. With Regina having only around a third of the population of Winnipeg, demographics naturally say that Winnipeg has more players that can afford to compete at the medium buy-ins. These players previously jumped at the opportunity to play in Regina for good reason, the events are both well organized and quite simply the closest, most economic option available.
Regina locals however, have generally seemed satisfied to play close to home. Results from other nationwide series have usually shown that for population reasons alone, there just are not that many Saskatchewan players that feel the need to take their game to the road, outside standard Vegas trips and a few of the top Canadian event stops. Logically, it is hard to phantom these numbers changing drastically, especially after a ton of the local playing communities money is put into play only a few weeks prior. The players from the two areas are definitely familiar with each other and perhaps, some reciprocal support of both events can be expected based on tradition alone. While some Manitoba players will certainly take advantage of any available action, others can be expected to take the overhead of a road trip and use it play an extra event or cash game bankroll to play a few weeks later on home turf. Browsing forum discussions around the web also show that the Winnipeg series has sparked the interest of some Ontario players, as the countries mid point province is just that much closer to home to warrant consideration.
Casino Regina appears to have had some fore sight of the potential impact of the new events competing for player attendance, setting their event buy-ins at an average stake attractive to the playing masses and eliminating the less accessible $1500+ events that seem to be dwindling in attendance country wide. Manitoba has also targeted this range, but while similar sized events at the Station Classic will be played to completion in a single day, The Manitoba Lotteries Poker Open is offering more time on the blind clock, larger starting chips stacks and 2 days of play set aside for each of the comparable events. Whatever is new is always initially subject to hype; curiosity and day dreams of softer fields will certainly attract some, there are players that take comfort in believing the grass always tends to be greener somewhere else. Lastly, Manitoba’s legal gambling age is lower at 18, while Saskatchewan requires players to be 19 years old to play, giving the April a slight advantage in filling the expected fields.
Will this new option have a huge impact on where player poker budgets go, or make very little difference at all? Regardless it seems to be a good indicator that poker in our country is continuing to grow. Maybe these opinions are looking to deep into things and neither event will impact the other, but the next month will certainly be interesting to keep an eye on. Check out Canada Poker’s preview article for more information on Casino Regina’s Station Classic and stay tuned this week for a preview of the events for The Manitoba Lotteries Poker Open.
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