PokerStars and its PokerStars LIVE division have fully cancelled the already-delayed European Poker Tour (EPT) stop in Sochi, Russia, in the wake of Russia’s continuing invasion of neighboring Ukraine. The Sochi stop had been scheduled, originally, for March 18-27, 2022, but was postponed last week to October 1-10, 2022, dates that are also no longer in effect.
PokerStars released a brief statement regarding the full cancellation. “PokerStars can confirm that EPT Sochi has been cancelled. An event will not be held in Sochi until such time that it is safe for staff and players, and appropriate to do so. Qualifiers can contact email@example.com with any queries.
“We are continuing to monitor the situation closely,” the statement added, “and are taking all appropriate actions to ensure we remain in compliance with all applicable laws and sanctions.” PokerStars released the statement through multiple channels.
The EPT Sochi event remains listed on the PokerStars LIVE page that details its planned European Poker Tour stops. That listing will be adjusted to show the full and formal cancellation. The event’s full cancellation was made somewhat more complex by the semi-independent nature of the Sochi event, as necessitated by Russia’s current gambling laws.
Growing public calls for Sochi cancellation
While keeping safety of the event’s possible attendees and workers as its focus, PokerStars’ cancellation of the Sochi stop also addresses the growing calls of the international poker community to fully pull the plug on the event. Logistically, the event promised to be a growing nightmare anyway, with travel to and from Russia already becoming difficult in the face of the no-fly zones and bans on flights to and from Russia that have been enacted by many other countries.
One-time Team PokerStars Pro Eugene Katchalov was among those calling for international online poker sites such as Stars and partypoker to stop doing business in or with Russia at the present time. Katchalov, a native of Ukraine who remains that country’s all-time leading tournament money earner, spoke with Poker.org earlier this week about his harrowing flight to Hungary as Russia began its invasion. Katchalov represented PokerStars from 2011 to 2016.
Since arriving safely in Hungary with his wife, Anna, Katchalov has worked tirelessly on social media to publicize the inhumanity of Russia’s Ukrainian invasion. In addition to detailing his own flight along with the continuing plight of other Ukrainians, Katchalov has amplified the pressure placed on companies to further isolate Russia at the present time:
Some European players had promised to boycott other EPT stops if EPT Sochi wasn’t cancelled. Dutch poker pro Jorge Ruijs was one of the first European players who vowed to boycott the EPT stop in Prague that begins on Saturday. Though certainly heartfelt, Ruijs’ planned boycott (below), and similar sentiments may not have materially affected the Sochi cancellation process, given the other elements already being addressed. Still his and other players’ stances were certainly noticed and, effectively addressed by PokerStars.
Featured image source: PokerStars Live