Following on from the recent launch of our brand new Prima client, it was time for the operational side of the business to step up and show the hard work that’s been done recently. Not only do we have this shiny new website, which you are likely reading this on, but we have recently launched a dedicated sub forum on 2+2.  We’ve also just announced our biggest ever tournament series with the €1 Million Guaranteed Universal Championship of Poker (UCOP).

UCOP is a personal highlight of the year for me. Not only does it represent our biggest annual series, but it also signals the start of the poker season. Summer holidays are over, a major poker tournament series that may or may not take place in Las Vegas has ended, the weather becomes terrible again, and things start to return to normal.

For those of us who work in the poker room management side of the business, it’s one of the busiest times of the year, from creating the schedule, setting the guarantees, implementing events, and more painstakingly, satellites to the events. It’s non-stop! The work for this year’s UCOP actually started in early June, with a group of us kicking around a few ideas that will finally come to fruition in the next few weeks. Even once it’s finished, the work won’t be over as the analysis kicks in then.

One of the main ideas/questions kicked around (mainly by my boss – thanks Alex!) was ‘could we get the guarantee to €1 million for the series?’ Straight away my answer was a resounding NO! We’ve had a year where things outside of our control have at times held us back. UCOP started out originally as a €250k series, it grew to €500k in 2016 and last year it rose again to €750k, which is quite a decent guarantee when compared to competitors with similar size player bases to ourselves. But we back ourselves here at Microgaming, we believe in our product, and we believe in our analysis. Above all, if we want to make the MPN bigger and better we need to be brave, so a €1 Million guaranteed it is!

We take poker very seriously at the MPN. We are all poker nerds with years of experience, but we also have a fun side – it’s how we differentiate ourselves from the crowd. I think UCOP is a good example of this. Even the name “Universal Championship of Poker” was our way of putting a fun spin on the standard names used in tournament series. We have also tried over the years to be different in how we crown the leaderboard winner, with extra points for streaming, points for tweeting and showing you are a great representative of the game. We like to think our outrageous, over the top trophy for winning the “Greatest Poker Player in the Universe” shows our fun side. Here’s last year’s trophy modelled by the  one of our colleagues, Levanya:

Last year’s UCOP was ultimately won by Simon “Amatay” Jones from Redbet, and when you have a trophy as big as that, it does beg the question: how do we deliver it to the winner? I’ll be honest, at this particular time the over the top trophy didn’t seem as funny as when we decided to get it made! So we decided we would jump on a plane from MPN headquarters in the Isle of Man and hand deliver it to him in London. At this point, I would like to point out that the vicious rumours that we only did this so that two members of staff could go on a day trip shopping are fiercely denied. This was strictly business! Here is the winner’s photo:

Simon looks extremely happy, as would you with that beauty of a trophy on your mantelpiece! So can he retain it this year? The trophy has NEVER been retained, that’s the challenge for him, and more importantly what does this year’s outrageous trophy look like? Time will tell on both of these, but Simon has reliably informed us he will be playing all events and streaming them on twitch.tv/amatay_poker so you can follow the action as it unfolds there.

I can’t finish this piece off without some details of this year’s UCOP so, as mentioned, €1 Million is guaranteed over 15 days, across 88 events. This year’s main event is a €110 buy-in with €100,000 guaranteed which, being honest, is quite ambitious in itself but we are also backing it up with:

  • A €22 ‘100 Seat Mega Feeder’ to go with the main event
  • Direct feeders starting at 11c to go with the main event
  • Freeroll awarding 3 main event tickets for players playing in satellites

We have also introduced booster tournaments, which are six events where you can double your stack for less than the cost of entry – you can do this at any stage before late registration closes. On top of this there are daily (Mon-Sat) deepstack events with 15k starting stacks and lots of play. All the regular formats are catered for and can be found in our normal schedule. We have also introduced a new blind structure across the events (and selected MTTs) to give more play at the end. We have left no stone unturned!

This year’s “Greatest Poker Player in the Universe” will not only win €3,000 in cash plus the coveted trophy, but they will also join us not once but twice in 2019 at two MPNPT events! I also promise to get the first round in for the lucky winner at the first event! As in previous years, winning poker tournaments won’t guarantee that you top the leaderboard – although it certainly helps! There are a host of other ways to earn extra points!

Full details of this year’s UCOP are available here:

Good luck at the tables!

Jonathon Kelly (@jonathonkelly) is Senior Manager of Network Operations at Microgaming, which operates the MPN and Indian Poker Network, and provides poker services to Adjarabet.

Any opinions contained in this blog are the personal views of the author only, and not of any other person or organisation.




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