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Get to Know the Owners of our Dutch Media Partner PokerCity

Get to Know the Owners of our Dutch Media Partner PokerCity

The Festival Series is delighted to bring PokerCity as an official media partner. PokerCity is based in the Netherlands and has been the premier live reporting and poker news platform for Dutch poker players. In addition to providing both pre-event and post-event news, PokerCity will also be on hand to live report our next event in The Festival Series Tallinn at the luxurious Olympic Park Casino from June 27 to July 3.

The Festival Series sat down with the two owners Lars Smeets and Pieter Salet to learn more about their journey in the poker community as well as to discuss the partnership with The Festival Series.

Something New for PokerCity

While The Festival Series Main Event will guarantee at least a €500,000 prize pool for just a €550 buy-in, the event itself is more than just about poker with casino, blackjack, slots, and sports wagering tournaments along with the VIP activities planned outside of the casino. In other words, it is a poker and casino holiday designed to give an amazing and unique experience for the players. PokerCity was excited about the concept and is looking forward to reporting more than just poker.

“I think it's an important goal for us to show how much fun The Festival is,” said Pieter. "The Festival Series is not only the poker tournament. Usually, we do a poker blog but I think for this time it's important for Lars or our other reporter on-site to go to an event like beer drinking or different events and feature a nice report, along with pictures and a video as well.”

Passion for Poker

Both Lars and Pieter shared with us their passion for poker and how they got they got involved with PokerCity.

“PokerCity started in 2005 in Amsterdam, of course, as a poker news website,” Pieter shared. “I joined PokerCity in 2010. Lars joined in 2011. And in 2017, we both became owners of PokerCity, so it's our company because the owners before said lost interest in the poker world. We took a refreshed approach and basically the whole website and we did everything in a different way which led to some major improvements. But we've been around quite for quite a while now our live streaming in Holland Casino since the beginning 2005/2006 and have been the live reporting partner for almost 17 years now. Since last night took over, we've expanded a bit and we do a live reporting in Brussels as well with the WPT at Grand Casino Brussels Viage and Rozvadov of course as well.”

Lars echoed Pieter’s sentiments before he shared with us his journey into the poker world.

“So, me and my friends, we had our annual weekend away with just with the guys in 2005 and a friend of mine brought a poker case with poker chips,” Lars said with a smile. “And the rest is history. So we started playing poker, like a €5 rebuys. That progressed to home games and eventually trips to the casino. I think the regular path that most players take. When I started playing, I already had a good job. So for me, it was always recreational. But then I lost my job in 2010 as the company I work for went bankrupt. And I, I doubted a little bit. Should I try to play poker all the time?

But after that, I had some doubts. I realized I'm not getting enough to do that. And of course, I already had a house, I had to pay my mortgage. So, it was a little bit different than I think then if you're a student, and you still live with your parents, so it was a lot less risk. But then, yeah, I continued playing poker recreationally. But after I won that tournament, I got in touch with Pieter and Mark who were already doing live reporting for PokerCity. Then, two years later, a friend of mine qualified for the World Series and I went with him to Vegas. I did some reporting on Facebook, for the home front, and for the people who weren't there. And then Mark contacted me and said, ‘Oh, isn't poker city anything for you? So, let's give it a try.’ And I liked it right away. I mean, it was a good way, to work with poker to get in touch with poker players to get around. I did that for five years before we started talking to take over the company.”

PokerCity Connects with Its Community

PokerCity stands out in the poker media for its poker leagues. The league began online about a year ago and has been a huge success with Lars and Pieter being able to interact with their readers on a more intimate basis.

“So now we're in our third season, and it's good,” Lars shared. “We build the community with that, especially our long-term community, and the people who come to our site who typically play themselves or visit the Holland Casinos. But now we reach a whole new group of players who actually follow us, but we didn't know them. And that was good to find out because for them, paying a few hundred Euros is too much for them. But they're into poker, and they're more in home games. We have been building our community with that.

The initial league was not rewarding cash prizes due to licensing requirements. That has recently changed with a new real-money online poker league launching thanks to a change in the Dutch regulatory regime and the close relationship between PokerCity and Holland Casino.

“We started another league in cooperation with Holland casino with their online platform where every Monday we have the Holland Casino Online Poker League,” Lars explained. “People couldn’t play for money with the league we initially launched because we don't have a license. They pay a small amount but they cannot win any money. But in the new league, they can. So, there's a €20 single reentry every Monday. We do the ranking and a live stream and we're building a community there as well. Yeah, that's it in a nutshell and now we're going to Tallinn and we're going to Bratislava for The Festival Series this year. So we're Yeah, we're expanding which is good.”