You’ve probably already heard about the Power Path, PokerStars’ incredible new qualifying route designed to get more casual poker players into its biggest events, both live and online.
We’re extremely excited about it. Here at PokerStars Blog, we not only love to follow online qualifiers in big events, but we also relish the underdog stories – perhaps people playing their first live tournament. They’re what makes the game of poker so special.
If you’re not sure what Power Path is yet, let us quickly explain.
WHAT IS POWER PATH?
It’s a four-path qualifying route ($0.50 > $1 > $11 > $109) with incredible prizes up for grabs every step of the way: a Bronze Power Pass (worth $109 in online tickets), Silver Power Pass ($2,500 – live or online), and Gold Power Pass ($10,300 – live or online).
It’s catered for casual and recreational players in a few ways.
For starters, every single PokerStars player will receive a free Step 1 ticket daily simply by playing any real-money game. Moreover, by not allowing players to buy in directly to the fourth and final step, it denies the pros the ability to swarm in at the last second and scoop up the spoils.
But that begs the question, what do professional poker players think of this new system? Are they excited about it?
We spoke to serial qualifier David Docherty – a longtime pro who recently won the Irish Poker Open for €365,000 after winning entry in a satellite, as well as satellite expert Lex Veldhuis and Sebastian “peace&loove” Huber – who recently played his first EPT Main Event after winning an EPT Paris online satellite – to find out.
THE POKER DREAM
One of the primary reasons PokerStars has introduced Power Path is to keep the poker dream alive. For most players around the world, that dream is to win their way to a big event and make a run at a big score.
That’s a dream Docherty had back in 2007 when he was 19 and playing his first satellite for EPT Copenhagen.
“Like a lot of recreational players back then, the main reason I played it was because I aspired to play on TV against the big names in a prestigious tournament,” he says. “Maybe have the chance of winning some money. But also, just to do a bit of travelling. When I was 19, I saw poker as a way to see the world and with live satellites you get around cheap.”
Veldhuis also took advantage of live satellite offerings when he was just starting out, qualifying for his first seven EPT stops online. “It gave me really cool experiences and it was really motivating for me to play big tournaments for relatively cheap,” he says. “I even had a few scores here and there which was really nice for the bankroll.”
And it was the same for Huber. “When I started playing poker, one big goal was to get into a big live event. It didn’t matter which one, I just wanted to play one,” he says.
“I qualified for the EPT Paris Main Event in the last satellite running and it was my first ever EPT. It’s such a prestigious series so it was very special to play it, particularly as a PokerStars Ambassador.”
Power Path hopes to reignite that fire and keep the poker dream alive for casual players who watch EPT and COOP streams at home, wishing they were in the action.
“I think it’s really important to get recreational players to these events,” Veldhuis says. “It gives them a good story. It might even provide the next poker dream. It could really make the difference for someone going from a good amateur or recreational to going pro.”
Docherty shares that sentiment.
“I don’t think I’ve ever lost sight of how important live satellites are in my poker career,” he says. “I can remember way back, Pierre Neuville won seats to just about everything, same with Dara O’Kearney more recently. Even for me, I won the Irish Open from a live satellite. I couldn’t be more excited for people to get that opportunity too.
“We need these stories in poker.”
BUILT FOR CASUAL PLAYERS
Recently, we’ve seen fewer and fewer recreational players qualify for big events like EPT Mains. Why is this?
“The nature of live satellites has changed quite a bit over the past decade,” Docherty explains. “A major reason behind that is that satellite strategy has become more mainstream in recent times, whereby even your average recreational player has access to some really good content on how to play them.”
Docherty believes the intimidating nature of tough satellites has put off casual players. It’s something even he feels when playing the $530 EPT online qualifiers.
“They’re very reg-heavy, a lot of people max late-reg and do two or three bullets. It can be quite difficult to get through that if you’re a recreational player because people play well for the most part. But you’re also just up against it when people are entering the same satellite two or three times.”
Huber feels the strain too. “The normal $530 satellites into big events are very pro-heavy and it’s tough to win a seat. Power Path is ideal for creating another path to big events.”
Power Path hopes to remedy this by not allowing direct buy-ins and re-entry in the final Step 4 stage. Veldhuis – who plays online satellites during every session – recognises the importance of a path like this for recreational players.
“I love that the $109 buy-in is the highest step and that you can’t buy in directly to that, which means you must play the $11 Step 3 MTT. Whenever I play satellites – to the SCOOP Main, for example – I’ll play the $1Ks and I’ll play the $109s. But I already know that I won’t be playing the $11 Step 3’s.
“I think that proves the system works. Obviously, a lot of pros win qualifiers – which is fine, it’s all fair and square and you do still see recreational players win their way to the big events. But I think Power Path fences it off more for casual players and makes it more of an arduous task for pros, which is a really good thing.”
Docherty remembers when he was trying to win a Platinum Pass to the 2023 PokerStars Players Championship (PSPC) via the MegaPath route, which followed a similar structure to Power Path.
“When I played the $1K level of MegaPath, it was noticeable that the standard of play wasn’t as high as it is in the $530 EPT satellites,” Docherty says. “The reason is that a lot of the pros can’t be bothered to play the lower paths to get into the qualifier. They would rather just max late-reg for $1K if they’re allowed to.
“But in the path system, they’re not allowed. I think that’s great for the poker ecology.”
Docherty then presents us with a common predicament previously faced by recreational players.
ONE OF THE BIG BENEFITS OF POWER PATH
Let’s say you’re a local UK player and you want to play UKIPT Brighton. You might only have a six-to-eight-week period before the event where you can satellite into it. And maybe you have other commitments in that period, and you won’t be available to play every time there’s a satellite running.
“You might only have a couple of opportunities to win a seat and you might not make it,” he says. “But with Power Path, you can play qualifiers all year round, so you can wait until there’s an event coming up that sounds good for you. It’s far more accessible.”
And don’t forget, you’ll get a free Step 1 ticket every single day you play a real-money game on PokerStars. That gives you plenty of shots at Power Path.
THE IMPACT OF POWER PATH
What do we hope to see because of Power Path?
We want to see poker fans get their shot on the big stage. We want to see young dreamers take the first steps in their poker journeys. We want to see hometown heroes and longtime grinders move up the ladder.
“I’m sure there will be people who have never played a live tournament before winning their way on the Power Path and going on to win the tournament they choose to play,” Docherty says. “It’s bound to happen. I’m excited to see that happen. I’m glad that PokerStars has chosen to mix up the satellite environment a bit because I think it needed a refresh and Power Path seems like an exciting way to do it.”
Both Huber and Veldhuis will be recommending the Power Path route to their Twitch communities to bring people together and give more poker fans the opportunities they deserve.
“I would definitely recommend that casual players try to qualify for big live events through Power Path,” Huber says. “You’ll get an experience you’ll never forget, and you have an opportunity to win huge amounts. I am very hyped for it.”
Veldhuis is too. “I can’t wait to see what comes of it. Good luck to everyone, see you out there in the High Rollers!”
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