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Full Tilt Unveils Onyx Cup

Full Tilt shook up the online casino and poker world last week when it unveiled its new Onyx Cup live event series. While word had leaked out that Full Tilt was considering following in PokerStars' footsteps and sponsoring its own live poker tournament series, few people expected what Full Tilt ultimately unveiled.

The new Onyx Cup series will feature six events around the globe with a whopping $30 million in prize money up for grabs, with the first event to be held in Las Vegas May 11th-12th. With a buy-in of a staggering $100,000, it won't be a tournament for the faint hearted; the stakes only get higher, too, with the sixth tournament (the Grand Finale, which will be held in Vegas in December) sporting a $250,000 buy-in.

Full Tilt carved a niche for itself as the site where uber-successful (and uber rich) pros played, with names such as Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius, and Tom Dwan making it their online poker home. They're looking to parlay that elite status with the Onyx Cup, which will be the world's first series of high-stakes tournaments.

While the European Poker Tour (sponsored by PokerStars) and World Poker Tour have begun adding high-roller side events at many of their tournaments, the buy-ins are typically in the $10,000-$20,000 range -- relative chump change compared to what even the cheapest Onyx Cup event will cost to enter.

The Onyx Cup events will be televised around the world and will feature a "shot clock" format that gives players no more than 30 seconds to make a decision in a hand, although they will have three chips that can used throughout the tournament for additional time to think over their decision. 

As far as the reaction of the poker world to the big news from Full Tilt, early reviews have been mixed. The reaction of many small and mid stakes players was largely a shrug of the shoulders, as the Onyx Cup events are galaxies away from what they're bankrolled to play.

While it definitely could create additional interest in the game and present compelling tournament action for viewers, it's hard to see it drawing new players to the game the way Chris Moneymaker's WSOP Main Event win did. It gives the poker elite something to enjoy but the average Joe has little to no chance of even playing in an Onyx Cup event, much less winning one against what's sure to be some of the world's toughest tournament fields.

22-Mar-2011, 08:08

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