A PokerStars party is nothing new. One of the long-standing benefits of playing on the EPT is the chance one night to stand on a swanky terrace somewhere splendid, cocktail in hand, and listen to euro beats nearly drown out a million bad beat stories.
But here’s something that definitely is new for the EPT: a PokerStars party featuring a virtual marble race, streamed live on a big screen, with commentary from James Hartigan and Joe Stapleton. That’s what happened this week at EPT Monte Carlo. And it happened for a very good reason.
A few weeks ago, PokerStars announced a series of giveaways of so-called Red Spade Passes. As is typical with PokerStars giveaways, theses prizes are extraordinary. In celebration of the company’s collaboration with the Oracle Red Bull Racing Formula One team, Red Spade Pass winners will get exclusive access to the ultimate F1 fan experience.
What’s the “ultimate F1 fan experience”? Well, how does this sound: the first set of Red Spade Passes available will award winners a four-day, all-expenses paid trip for two to Nice and Monaco to watch the world-renowned Monaco Grand Prix from PokerStars private luxurious waterside location, overlooking the famous track.
At the PokerStars players party, the lucky winner of the marble race won the first of these Red Spade passes. It made what is always a hotly anticipated evening even more appealing.
The outline of the giveaway was pretty simple. The first 50 interested people to turn up at the EPT Monte Carlo party could show their PokerStars Live card, sign a form, and that was it: they were in the draw. Or, more accurately, in the race. They would receive a lanyard bearing a number from 1-50. That was the number of their marble in the crazy ride.
Usually, “fashionably late” is the only way to arrive at parties, but this format rewarded the early birds. In the minutes before the doors opened at 8pm, a good number of familiar faces assembled looking to secure their place in the race. (These included the former EPT champion Sebastian Malec, who was wearing a red Ferrari jacket to mark the occasion.)
The event was a predictable sellout, and folk mingled around in the party, eating a drinking and waiting for the main event. Then Hartigan encouraged folk to crowd around the screen to watch the running of the race.
Virtual marble races are hilarious, much favoured by the online poker streaming community, who use them to give away swag to viewers. Marbles trundle down a track, powered by gravity alone, and buffeted off one another and the sides. There’s all sorts of chaos as the marbles hit one another, sending leaders spiralling to the back of the pack, elevating previous no-hopers, that kind of thing.
It’s essentially a big lottery, but it’s a much more fun way of picking a random winner.
In this race, marbles 1, 9 and 18 (“Ah, the ‘Gamble Aware’ number,” said Stapleton) made most of the early running, before getting hauled back in by the pack. The race went round three virtual laps of a race track, and by the time they took the final bend, No 18 was back in the lead.
No 18 crossed the line first and took the chequered flag, which meant that a previously taciturn Italian named Edoardo Forestiero was pushed to the front to show he had the winning lanyard.
“I should see you jumping up and down,” Stapleton said to the firmly rooted Forestiero, but it was clear from the smile on his face that he was very happy indeed. It was just that he couldn’t express it in English.
“Thank you!” Forestiero said, and that was good enough.
The second and third placed marbles earned their owners, Nik Gonzales and Mariano Giovanni, the runners-up prizes, of a Red Bull Racing soft shell jacket and hat each.
And with that, it was back to the eurobeats. But a brilliant experience now awaits Forestiero back here in Monaco.
Relive the fun of the race and party: