Winamax Poker Tour returns to France with free-entry-option live event

Haley Hintze Author Photo
Haley Hintze
Posted on: September 07, 2022 08:11 PDT

The Winamax Poker Tour (WiPT) will be making its long-awaited return to live action in France with a months-long series of stops beginning in late October 2022 that culminates with a €1,000,000 Grand Final at Paris's Grande Halle de la Villette in February 2023. The reborn WiPT France tour will encompass 40 stops in 27 French cities as it builds its way toward the Paris conclusion.

The complex setup under which the 2022-23 WiPT has already begun online, where would-be Grand Final participants have already received the first bottom-tier tickets, called "Starting Blocks", in a steps-based qualifying ladder toward the Paris finale. It's just one of several paths through which Winamax's French players can qualify, though on the opposite end of the scale, players can buy in online directly for the live event, reserving their €500 seats for the Grand Final.

Qualifiers from the early steps in the process will move on to live "Stages" held throughout France, which will serve as the main feeders to the Grand Final. These Stages will be mixed in among the 40 planned stops, with at least 600 players vying for Grand Final seats at each stop. Dates for these Stages haven't been released, but they'll run in the major French cities of Paris (where 2,500 players will vie for Grand Final Seats), Lille (600 players), Strasbourg (600 players), Montpellier (600 players), Lyon (600 players), Rennes (600 players) and Bordeaux (600 players). Seat winners in these stages will join winners from direct online qualifiers in "Classics" events, as the WiPT builds its million-Euro field.

WiPT returns after five-year hiatus

The larger story, however, may be that the WiPT returned at all. First offered in 2011, the WiPT offered its hybrid (and quite popular) online/live series through 2017, when a regulatory crackdown by French authorities against all forms of live poker forced Winamax to withdraw the series until this year. Other online operators who sought to offer live events in the country faced a similar brick wall, while the crackdown also forced several of France's famed live card rooms to cease operations.

The re-launched WiPT, as it appears from information provided on the Winamax Blog, will avoid a possible crackdown by French authorities by ensuring that no entry fees are paid at any of the 40 live stops. While the paid online-entry paths to the Paris Grand Final exist, those will take place only online, while all live seats throughout the nearly-four-month WiPT run will have been previously earned by players.

Winamax referred to the long hiatus euphemistically when announcing the WiPT's return, describing it as a "far too long absence for various well-known reasons." After the original WiPT was pulled, the tour ran briefly in neighboring Spain, another firewalled country where the site is available. The COVID-19 pandemic put a pause to the WiPT Spain offerings as well, though independent WiPT stops returned earlier this year in Spain, Slovakia, and Ireland.

Featured image source: YouTube/Winamax Poker Tour