PokerMedia Australia catches up with Australia’s very own Danny McDonagh, tournament director extraordinaire and Live Events Specialist for the World Poker Tour, to discuss the upcoming WPTDeepStacks at The Star Gold Coast from 21 to 31 May.
PMA: It’s been more than a year since the last major casino-based tournament series in Australia. What should players get excited about at WPTDeepStacks Gold Coast?
Danny McDonagh: The fact that the inaugural WPT event in Australia was so popular is an excellent reason for players to once again be excited about the World Poker Tour returning down under. Add to that the fact there has not been a major casino poker festival in over 12 months and I am sure will add more interest. With buy-ins ranging from $330 to $5,000 and satellites to the Main Event priced at $175, there are events to interest all poker players. And the weather in May on the Gold Coast gives great reasons for southern state players to escape the onset of winter for a few days.
PMA: Can you explain the WPTDeepStacks concept and how it differs from the WPT’s other popular tournament series?
DM: WPTDeepStacks (WPTDS) as the name suggests offers a very deep structure for the Main Event. Virtually all these events globally are in the US$1,000 to US$1,500 buy-in range, but can go lower if necessary as was the case for WPTDS Taiwan last December that was priced at US$525 to better suit the exclusively local market at that time. This buy-in range contrasts with the World Poker Tour Main Tour buy-ins which start at US$3,500.
PMA: Do you see this mid-major level as a largely untapped market in Australia?
DM: As the main event for a major international poker brand, I agree it’s an untapped market in Australia. A $1,500 DeepStacks Main Event buy-in is the perfect stepping stone for WPT League Australia players to strive for, but at the same time the expected 7-figure prize pool will also be attractive to larger buy-in players.
PMA: What is the long-term plan for WPT DeepStacks in Australia?
DM: After many years, we have finally found the right partner in Australia with The Star Gold Coast and so the plan is to continually host many successful events for a very long time.
PMA: The WPT was just getting going heading into 2020 and had just announced Australia’s first WPT main stop tour event before COVID hit. Will this be back on the drawing board soon? If so, any idea when?
DM: The expectation for Main Tour events in Asia-Pacific leading in to 2020 was heightened with Main Tour stops for both Australia and Cambodia announced that unfortunately were both subsequently postponed. Main Tour events still prominently feature in our planning, however with the current COVID-19 environment we face in Asia-Pacific, we find it best to only announce the upcoming event for each venue.
PMA: You’ve formed a relationship with The Star Gold Coast over the past few years. Why is The Star Gold Coast the perfect partner for the WPT?
DM: Beyond the fabulous complex that has been developed by The Star Gold Coast in recent years and the aforementioned weather, the Gold Coast is a perfect destination for poker players in the Asia-Pacific region once we see a normality to international travel returning. A fabulous beach side location, excellent entertainment zone and featuring a world-class resort and amenities, it has a lot to offer as a future major international poker destination.
PMA: How important is it to bring major global brands like the WPT to the Australian market?
DM: Two major factors here: firstly, it pieces together the fact that so many Australians were attracted to poker when the World Poker Tour first aired on commercial TV in Australia back in 2004. So many poker players can really connect to the WPT brand and have the opportunity to be a World Poker tour champion. Secondly, international poker players often just need a little push to travel to another country and the aim of The Star and WPT is to develop events that tick all the boxes to become a major event on the global calendar.
PokerMedia Australia will be providing full live reporting of the WPTDeepstacks Gold Coast Main Event from 27 to 31 May. Visit www.pokermedia.com.au for all the live action.