The Festival Series has now got more partners than a Taylor Swift album! Terrible jokes aside, we are delighted to welcome Coolbet Poker, our newest addition to the Festival family. Head of poker Thomas Pasgaard Hviid has given us the lowdown on what to expect from the partnership with The Festival Series.
Coolbet: a fairly new poker room
“We are a fairly new poker room,” says Thomas. “We started a bit more than three years ago, and Coolbet started five years ago. We’re mostly focussing on the Scandinavian markets, but we have also more recently started focussing on Latin America and Canada as well. And then we are of course based here in Tallinn where The Festival will be played. And we also have our own live tournament called the Coolbet Open, which is played in November, and is kind of similar to The Festival.”
This is not Coolbet’s first proverbial rodeo - despite the company’s relatively youth, they have extensive experience of delivering fun, player-focussed live events. “Of course we know Franke well, since we have been working with him in connection with the Coolbet Open,” says Thomas - their own flagship event has been well received, with numbers steadily increasing over the four events they’ve run so far. Thomas also knows how much enthusiasm there is in the poker community for the return of live events. “We have satellites for Coolbet Open in November running,” he says, “But of course that is in eight, nine months - so that’s quite a long time. So when we can see that we can also offer satellites for The Festival, then we thought it makes sense to have them as well. So if you win a package in our satellites, then you can use it for either The Festival or the Coolbet Open. So they’re kind of combined, the satellites. We already have 25 players who have won satellites for the Coolbet Open, but they will also be given the choice of playing The Festival instead, because we know many of them are just looking forward to playing a poker festival again.”
Of course we miss the live scene!
Are they missing the live scene then, I ask? “Oh yeah yeah, of course we do!” says Thomas instantly. “We had to cancel the Coolbet Open last year which was very sad for us, because it’s a great opportunity to get in touch with the players and have a good time. So we’re just looking forward to playing poker live again.”
While global lockdowns have definitely brought new players into the game - the past year has seen business booming at Coolbet - Thomas is also aware that a good part of the increased site traffic is down to live players moving online out of necessity, as well as seasoned online players putting in some extra hours. “For sure,” he says, “People who are used to playing in a poker club for example and can’t play in a club any more during the pandemic, so they will play online instead. So definitely there has been a shift. But also I think online players have been playing a bit more than they used to because there’s been more traffic, more action to go for - prize pools are up. And of course we need to continue offering something good for our players so they keep playing with us when the pandemic is over.” That boom in online poker seems very likely to translate into bigger fields at live events once the casinos open up.
Thomas is also enthusiastic about the great team (ahem 💅) at Acroud who are behind The Festival Series. “I used to work for Pokerlistings - I was editor for them and I was a poker reporter for them,” he says, “So when I was part of setting up Coolbet Open, we took a lot of inspiration from Battle of Malta - which we created at Pokerlistings as well. And I can see with The Festival that it’s also taken some inspiration from that - the €550 buy in, lots of side events… It’s a bit more of a recreational poker festival than what else is around. So I think it’s a perfect fit for us.”
Festival Satellites on Coolbet start this week
Thomas first met Franke years ago, back when Pokerlistings had an office in Tallinn. “I was hanging out with a couple of guys from Pokerlistings one evening, and then we met Franke and it ended up at the casino as usual, and uh… Yeah. Classic Franke.” There’s basically no need for Thomas to elaborate further - The Festival head honcho Franke’s reputation very much precedes him. So - how can players on Coolbet qualify, then? “We’re starting this week,” says Thomas, “So on Sunday we’re going to have the first weekly final, and then the winners of the package can choose whether they want to play The Festival or Coolbet Open. Since there is a risk that The Festival in June may be cancelled, we're saying to players that if this should happen you can use the package for the next The Festival event in Bratislava, or you can use it for Coolbet Open in November. So we’re giving the players a lot of flexibility.” Indeed, flexibility is likely to remain the watchword going forward with live events until the pandemic is well behind us. Coolbet are also planning a few nice little extras for their players in Tallinn. “We have some goodie bags, some nice hoodies and so on… And we’ll also have to buy a round of beers at the casino, I think,” Thomas grins. Very much looking forward to that. We’ll see you at the bar. 🍻
You can read more about the satellites to Coolbet Open and/or The Festival here.