A high stakes game of one-upmanship recently took place between the two largest online poker sites. Full Tilt Poker announced that it was launching an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the largest ever poker tournament. The record was held by PokerStars, who hosted a 35,000 player event in December 2008.
The tournament was designed to tie in with the FIVE promotional campaign, created to commemorate the 5th birthday of Full Tilt Poker. They set the cap for the event at 50,000, giving them more than enough leeway to overshadow the previous total.
PokerStars, however, would not give up their record so easily. Shortly after the Full Tilt event was announced to the public, PokerStars scrambled to unveil their own tournament. They announced that they were attempting to break the record themself, in a thinly veiled attempt to outdo their rivals. There was initially no maximum set on the number of players, but given the rate of sign-ups over at Full Tilt it seemed they would need to break the 50,000 barrier in order to triumph.
In the end PokerStars decided to cut off sign-ups for their event at 65,000. Despite having time to react, Full Tilt elected not to raise their cap. Although the Full Tilt event did reach the required number of players to break the world record, Poker Stars also scheduled their event to being just over an hour before the Full Tilt version. Thus ensuring that they would hold the record without interruption.
The PokerStars tournament was a $1 buy-in event with no tournament fees and $65,000 added – generating a total prize pool of $130k. The Full Tilt event was considerably more generous, sporting a $5 buy-in with no fees and $250,000 of added money on top of $250,000 guaranteed. With the full 50,000 players registered that left the prize pool at $500,000.
Full Tilt’s Record Breaker failed to break the record, but it did make low stakes player breo40 $45,000 richer from a $5 investment. Interestingly, both tournaments finished at almost exactly the same time. Full Tilt’s tournament ended at 0:05 ET, a minute after its competitor. The event paid an incredible 7,500 players, more than the number of entrants to almost every live tournament ever held.
Although their record breaking attempt was ultimately a failure, Full Tilt appears to have held the better tournament and did not stoop to the reactionary tactics employed by their larger competitor.