PokerStars is now the exclusive "poker partner" of the UFC. Photo by UFC.com, Public Domain
One of the world's leading online poker rooms has announced an exclusive partnership with the UFC.
PokerStars has confirmed it is now the "official poker partner" of arguably the biggest mixed martial arts (MMA) franchise on the planet. UFC has been in existence since 1993, long before the establishment of online poker. However, it wasn't until the late 2000s and early 2010s when UFC would become a global brand, thanks to mainstream media coverage, with their latest five-year media rights agreement with ESPN worth an approximate $1.5 billion. It's not the first time that the owners of PokerStars have sought to get into other sports, having acquired one of the world's largest sports betting operators last year in a deal worth $4.7 billion.
Although UFC was born in the U.S., it's taken some time for the biggest cities to embrace it. For instance, LA is becoming just as mad about UFC as it is about basketball. The Staples Center, home of NBA's Western Conference contenders the Clippers and the Lakers, also played host to UFC 227 and the rematch between TJ Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt II.
The PokerStars brand can be found in the Octagon ring
Taking all that into account, it makes more sense than ever for PokerStars to want to position itself alongside such a fast-emerging brand. With the U.S. online poker industry steadily recovering, it seems the right time to secure a prominent place in the UFC's iconic Octagon. The PokerStars brand is printed in and around the Octagon during all major fights in a bid to enhance its customer base in emerging U.S. states, as well as appeal to those UFC fans that might enjoy a game of cards.
There are also an increasing number of UFC-branded promotions and initiatives listed on the PokerStars site. The platform has launched a new range of fast-paced UFC-branded poker tables called Spin & Go's, where poker and MMA collide on-screen.
PokerStars is no stranger to launching poker game variants, having released Unfold Hold'em last year. If you're not yet familiar with the Spin & Go concept, it's basically a hyper-turbo way to play your poker. They are three-max sit & go tournaments, with each player beginning with 500 chip stacks.
Discovering UFC Spin & Go and UFC KO Poker action
The PokerStars platform is compatible with all laptop, smartphone and tablet devices. Photo by kaboompics, Public Domain.
The beauty of them is that each tournament you enter will have different prize pools assigned entirely at random, up to a maximum of 12,000 times your initial buy-in. For example, if you were to enter a $7 Spin & Go, it would be possible to play for a $70,000 first prize (although PokerStars states that a 12,000x prize pool multiplier will only occur once in every one-million Spin & Go's). The UFC-branded Spin & Go's don't just offer huge cash prizes, they also offer UFC promotions and VIP experiences too.
The second UFC-branded poker initiative on PokerStars is the UFC KO Poker tables, which is a simple rebrand of the KO Poker games. The tables in UFC KO Poker are designed to replicate the shape and atmosphere of a UFC octagon ring, complete with sound effects and animations.
While the UFC KO Poker tables are still readily available, PokerStars also announced an exciting $10 million-guaranteed tournament series earlier this summer, called the UFC KO Poker Series, which operated for eight days, offering some massive prize pools and even three exciting travel packages for UFC fans to go and watch UFC 241 in Anaheim.
The progressive UFC KO Poker tournaments offer a refreshing change to a conventional multi-table tournament. In these games, players pick up cash rewards for knocking out players that have bounties on their head. Each player starts with a bounty that equates to only half the buy-in of the tournament, but with every player you eliminate you'll earn half of that bounty. The other half of their bounty is added to your own bounty above your head.
What this means for the variance of UFC KO Poker tournaments is that players can still make a healthy return from a KO Poker game without even finishing in the big money, thanks to the accumulation of bounties along the way. It's said that while most multi-table tournament pros use between 150 and 200 buy-ins, those who exclusively play progressive UFC KO Poker games only require between 100 and 150 buy-ins.