Year in Review: Top 5 Moments That Marked 2023 at PokerStars
Last Updated: December 28, 2023
2023 was one of the biggest years for poker as a whole, and major online poker operators like PokerStars flourished throughout the year.
Even though its position as the world’s number one poker operator has been seriously challenged in recent years, PokerStars entered 2023 with big plans and they all came to fruition, as PokerStars continued to battle for that top position across a dozen different markets.
PokerStars continued to throw some of the most successful live tournaments, including the return of the North America Poker Tour (NAPT), the debut of new EPT stops, and much more, while also continuing to innovate in the online poker arena as well.
With just days left before 2024 kicks off, we take a look back at some of the most memorable PokerStars moments of 2023 in the hopes that more of the same will be coming in the new year as well.
#1 – New European Poker Tour Stops Introduced
When the schedule for the 2023 season of EPT was released last year, the poker world was buzzing about the new destinations PokerStars had introduced to the schedule.
The first of the two new stops added to the yearly EPT schedule was EPT Paris, as EPT made its return to France after several years and its debut in the City of Love.
As most expected, EPT Paris was a massive success, as thousands of players made their way to the French capital in late February to create the biggest-ever debut event on the EPT.
With 1,606 entries made into the Main Event, and the champion Razvan Belea of Romania walking away with €1.17 million in cash, the festival was an instant success.
Following in its footsteps was the inaugural EPT Cyprus, a new tournament festival held in the newly founded European poker Mecca.
Cyprus could not bring together as many players as Paris, but still ended up accumulating a total of 1,320 entries, good for a first place prize of $1,040,000, which was won by Dutch player Giles Simon.
With both stops experiencing instant success, PokerStars has already announced that both would be making a return in 2024, which is great news for hard core poker players across the continent.
The introduction of these new and the return of popular EPT stops like Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and Prague, has made it clear that PokerStars is here to stay for many years to come.
#2 – North America Poker Tour (NAPT) Makes a Triumphant Return
It’s been a while since PokerStars threw a live poker event on American soil. Following the events of Black Friday, PokerStars was among the operators that were forced to shut down all its American operations, and it took some years for the relationships to be fixed and PokerStars to once again be a big name in American online poker.
Now that PokerStars is a licensed poker operator in several states in the US, it was about time for its popular live tournaments to return as well, and what better place to do that then Sin City itself.
In November 2023, NAPT made a return with a $1,650 NAPT Main Event played at Resorts World Las Vegas.
The event offered a $1.5 million guaranteed prize pool and managed to shatter the number as a total of 1,095 entries were made, creating a prize pool of just north of $1.6 million.
In the blink of an eye, it's all over! 🏆
Sami Bechahed is the #NAPTLasVegas Champion, topping 1095 entries to win $268,945.
This is the moment a dream was realised. 👇 pic.twitter.com/39PWc16Q6m
— PokerStars LIVE (@PokerStarsLIVE) November 12, 2023
Big names in American poker like Phil Hellmuth, David Williams, and David Baker made their way to the event, while Nick Schulman even made a final table appearance.
The title eventually went to Sami Bechahed, who was able to win more than $268k for his performance and further establish himself on the poker scene.
The first NAPT festival since 2018 has left American players hopeful that more NAPT stops would be introduced to the schedule in the coming year and created tons of buzz about live poker in Las Vegas in the midst of one of the biggest years for poker in quite a long time.
#3 – Benny Glaser Dominates Spectacular WCOOP
The 2023 WCOOP, poker’s biggest online tournament festival, was a triumphant success for PokerStars, as nearly $100 million in cash prizes was distributed across the events.
While Ivan Stokes was crowned the Main Event champion and certainly earned himself plenty of glory, it was poker legend Benny Glaser who truly dominated the championship.
Glaser captured an astonishing seven tournament titles, adding to the three SCOOP titles he also won in 2023, making himself the talk of the town across poker media platforms.
Glaser’s dominant performances at PokerStars were combined with his success on the live felt, making it a year the British pro will certainly never forget.
For PokerStars, the festival once again established the operator’s importance in the world of tournament poker, as WCOOP was once again the biggest moment for online tournament grinders across the globe.
#4 – PokerStars Partners with Formula 1
While NAPT was a big event in and of itself, the biggest thing in Las Vegas this year was definitely the return of the Formula 1 Championship to the city, which was a spectacle that both poker fans and thousands of other visitors to the city could enjoy.
PokerStars would not miss out on an opportunity to be featured at such a key event for Las Vegas, and a partnership between the operator and the world’s best F1 team right now, Oracle Red Bull Racing, was renewed early in the year.
— PokerStars (@PokerStars) November 18, 2023
The partnership saw PokerStars run a number of special F1 themed tournaments throughout the year, offer unique branded rewards and event tickets to the winners, and appear on the track and Oracle Red Bull racing cars themselves during the epic race.
The existing partnership between the two organizations is likely to extend into 2024 and beyond, as PokerStars continues to make heavy investments aimed to empower its brand as the very best in the business.
#5 – First Online Mystery Bounty Tournament Announced
The mystery bounty poker tournament format has been stealing all the headlines lately, as major tournament festivals around the world have been featuring mystery bounty events left and right.
In December 2023, PokerStars announced that it would finally be adding the mystery bounty format to the platform as well, with the first mystery bounty event scheduled for January 7, 2024.
To make things even more epic, the operator is introducing mystery bounties in a special edition of Sunday Million, which will be played as part of the exciting 2023 New Year Series.
The #NewYearSeries starts on Sunday.
♠️ 158 events
♠️ Buy-ins from $2.20
♠️ Satellites from $0.55
♠️ Mystery Bounty tournaments
♠️ Phase 1 tournaments are running now
— PokerStars (@PokerStars) December 22, 2023
Stick around with PokerStars going into 2024 and you will likely have plenty of chances to play mystery bounty tournaments along with all the countless existing tournament formats already available at the world’s best poker tournament platform and real money poker app.