World Poker Tour

2010 WSOP Main Event – Grinding Rags to Riches
November 7, 2010
WSOP Main Event
November 25, 2010

WPT LogoThe World Poker Tour stands as one of the most popular series in the game today. The 2009-2010 season was the WPT’s eighth, with its 17 tournament stops being played in seven different countries. Originally founded by television producer Steven Lipscomb, the World Poker Tour is now owned by PartyGaming, parent company of online poker room PartyPoker.

Starting in 2002, the World Poker Tour is a series of Texas Hold’em tournaments held in a made-for-television format. Hosted by Hall of Fame poker player Mike Sexton and actor Vince Van Patten, the tournaments feature live commentary and player interviews. Since announcing hole cards during a live broadcast is against gambling regulations, the telecasts also included post-tournament commentary from the hosts.

The series was aired by the Travel Channel for its first five seasons. After a legal dispute arose between the network and the WPT, the poker series was broadcast for one season on the Game Show Network. (GSN) Although the new seasons currently do not have an agreement with a particular network, the events are recorded and DVDs of the final tables are available for purchase.

The World Poker Tour and Online Poker

The birth of the World Poker Tour coincided perfectly with the explosion of online poker worldwide. The growing popularity of the game got a tremendous boost when Chris Moneymaker, a qualifier from poker room PokerStars, went on to win the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2003. The first time a qualifier had won the major tournament; this win attracted the attention of countless millions to tournament poker.

This new attention also helped to grow the WPT. Holding open tournaments, amateurs could pay the entry fees of between $2,500 and $25,000 and participate in the events just like professional players. The tour also holds qualifiers, lower priced tournaments that offer entry to WPT events as prizes. This format, along with the surge in online poker, has helped the World Poker Tour become successful.

With the exception of the WSOP Main Events from 2004-2010, the 2007 WPT Championship is the most successful tournament ever, generating a prize pool of nearly $15.5 million. Not far behind were the 2006 and 2008 WPT Championships, generating $14.7 and $13.2 million prize pools, respectively.

During Season 8 in 2009-2010, 15 of the 17 events had prize pools of over $1 million. Four events during the season soared over $4 million purses, with the Doyle Brunson Five Diamond Poker Classic Xanax ($4.7 million), the LA Poker Classic ($7.1 million) and the WPT Championship ($4.7 million) leading the way.

WPT Draws Poker’s Top Players

While the World Poker Tour has been extremely popular with amateur players, it has been a hit with the game’s best professional players as well. During its first eight seasons, a list of the top pros who have won events includes:

• Gus Hansen

• Howard Lederer

• Daniel Negreanu

• Michael Mizrachi

• Barry Greenstein

• Phil Gordon

• Doyle Brunson

• Ted Forrest

• Dan Harrington

• Phil Ivey

• Erik Seidel

The Player of the Year winners for the first eight seasons were Lederer, Erick Lindgren, Negreanu, Gavin Smith, JC Tran, Jonathan Little, Bertrand Grospellier and Faraz Jaka. Although Phil Hellmuth has never won a WPT title, he leads a group of four players that has cashed at least once in every season of the tour. Also on the list are Seidel, Mark Seif and Surinder Sunar.

In 2004, the World Poker Tour inducted its first group into the WPT Walk of Fame, as Wikipedia says, “to honor those poker players who have played the game well at the highest levels as well as those who have promoted the spread of it through film, television, and literature.” The only members of the Walk of Fame to date are Doyle Brunson, Gus Hansen and actor James Garner.

The Future of the World Poker Tour

The outlook for the WPT is very positive, as the tour continues to grow and expand. Season 8 not only included stops in 7 countries, but also featured events in six states in the United States. (Nevada, California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Indiana and Mississippi)

The schedule for Season 9 was changed, with 16 events being held in four countries, including France, Spain, England and United States. In the US, Florida has been added to the list of tour stops (and Connecticut dropped) since the state revised its gambling laws to allow high-stakes tournaments.

With the 2010 portion of Season 9 already in the books, the WPT continues to thrive. All of the first nine events for the season have registered prize pools of over $1 million, with the Borgata Poker Open and Bellagio Cup VI both exceeding $3.4 million. Offering both pros and amateurs the chance to play for big prizes, the World Poker Tour stands as one of the most popular poker series in the world.