Israeli basketball club becomes the first European sports team to be sponsored by the world’s biggest online poker site
PokerStars, the world’s biggest online poker site, has announced a sponsorship deal with Israeli basketball club Maccabi Tel Aviv. The European sports team becomes the first to be backed by PokerStars, which plans to help promote Maccabi Tel Aviv around the world.
Maccabi Tel Aviv is one of Israel’s most successful sports clubs, with over 100 years of history and 43 championships to their name. The team is especially popular in Europe and Asia, with a fanbase that extends to countries such as Russia, Poland and China.
“Maccabi is an iconic global brand and we’re excited to be working with them,” said Eric Hollreiser, vice president of corporate communications at PokerStars. “Our commitment is to support and grow their international fan base while helping to promote safer, fair and fun poker play.”
The sponsorship agreement will see PokerStars become the “Official Gaming Partner” of Maccabi Tel Aviv. As part of the deal, the two organizations will collaborate on a number of marketing initiatives including social media content, event appearances and online/offline activations.
Maccabi Tel Aviv, one of the most iconic and successful basketball teams in Europe, announced on Monday that it will be participating in the inaugural European Poker Tour event, which is set to take place in Barcelona from Feb. 24-March 4.
The team will be sending a delegation of players to the event, which will include some of its top players as well as up-and-coming Israeli talents.
“This is a great opportunity for us to promote poker in Israel and to give our players a chance to compete against some of the best in the world,” said Asi Tuchman, CEO of Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Israeli Minister of Sport and Culture Miri Regev also praised the decision, saying that it was a testament to the growing popularity of poker in Israel.
“This is an excellent opportunity for Israeli athletes to show their skills on an international stage and I am proud that Maccabi Tel Aviv is taking part,” she said.
The European Poker Tour event will feature a total prize pool of €5 million, with the winner set to take home €1 million.
Yossi Maurer, an Israeli professional poker player, won the inaugural PokerStars Championship Maccabi Tel Aviv, which took place at the casino in the city of Rishon LeZion. The event was part of the world’s biggest poker tour and saw 192 players take part, including some of the biggest names in the game.
Maurer began Day 2 of the tournament as chip leader and was able to hold on to his lead throughout the day, eventually emerging victorious as champion. He took home a first prize of $161,850, as well as a championship ring and a trophy. In an interview after his victory, Maurer said that it was “an amazing feeling” to win and that he was looking forward to returning to Israel to celebrate with his friends and family.
The PokerStars Championship Maccabi Tel Aviv was held at a casino for the first time in Israel, and it is hoped that the tournament will become an annual event. The casino is located in Rishon LeZion, a city in central Israel which is well known for its gambling facilities.
The first World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE) tournament series was hosted in France in 2007. Since then, the event has been held every year in a different European country. The 2017 WSOPE took place in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, and Israeli poker players had a strong performance.
Out of the 771 total players who participated in the 2017 WSOPE, 33 were from Israel. This was the second-highest number of Israelis at the event behind only the United States with 108 players. Despite this high representation, Israeli players only managed to place 12th overall in terms of total prize money won.
The top performer among Israelis was Itai Paz who finished in 9th place overall and won €106,700. Other notable Israeli finishers include Nir Levy (19th), Or Epstein (31st), and Michael Elbaz (37th). All told, Israeli players won over €440,000 in prize money at the 2017 WSOPE.
Israel has a long and proud history of success at international poker tournaments. In addition to their strong performance at the WSOPE, Israelis have also done well at other major events such as the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and European Poker Tour (EPT). This is due in part to the quality of Israeli poker players but also to the level of support they receive from the local poker community.
With continued success at major tournaments, it is safe to say that Israeli pokerplayers are among the best in the world.
The Maccabi Tel Aviv Poker Challenge, which took place last weekend at the Ramada Plaza hotel in Tel Aviv, drew a field of 108 players and crowned Josef Shitrit as its champion. Shitrit, who is originally from Rishon LeZion, bested his competition after three days of poker action to take home the top prize of $10,000.
The tournament kicked off on Friday afternoon with the first of four starting flights. Among those taking their seats at the tables were two-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Amir Lehavot and 2017 PokerStars Championship Bahamas runner-up Pratyush Buddiga. Unfortunately for both players, they were unable to make it past Day 1. Lehavot was eliminated in 71st place for a $600 score, while Buddiga busted in 53rd place for a $1,050 payday.
After nearly 12 hours of play, only 73 players remained heading into Day 2. Among those returning were Shitrit (leading the pack with 377,000 chips), along with Jon Friedberg (294,000), Shai Zurr (269,000), and Assaf Ben David (253,000).
Day 2 saw the completion of six more levels of play, and by the end only 30 players remained in contention for the title. Zurr emerged as the chip leader with 1.3 million chips, followed by Shitrit (1.2 million) and Ofer Michaeli (641,000).
The final day began with Michaeli leading the pack but it was Shitrit who would ultimately come out on top. After several hours of back-and-forth poker action, Shitrit emerged victorious when his A♣9♥ defeated Zurr’s A♥J♦ on a board of 5♥8♦7♠4♦3♣ to secure the title and $10,000 first-place prize.