World Poker Tour


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The World Poker Tour (Abbreviated WPT) is a series of international poker tournaments featuring most of the world's professional players. It was started in the United States by attorney/television producer Steven Lipscomb, who now serves as CEO of WPT Enterprises (WPTE), the firm that controls the World Poker Tour.

Introduction

The World Poker Tour is a collection of Texas hold 'em poker tournaments held internationally, but mainly in the United States. The television show has led to a boom in the table game across American homes, in local casino poker rooms and online. The key sponsors of the tour are casinos and online poker sites. The show, which is syndicated internationally, is co-hosted by World Series of Poker winner Mike Sexton, and actor Vince Van Patten. Shana Hiatt served as the show host and sideline reporter in its first three seasons. Courtney Friel took over the host role for the fourth season, and Sabina Gadecki for the fifth. Layla Kayleigh and Kimberly Lansing began serving as hostesses in season six.

Background

The tour had its debut season in the latter part of 2002 and early part of 2003, climaxing with the WPT Championship in April 2003 at the Bellagio Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. The first season aired on the Travel Channel on American cable television in the spring of 2003. The show made its network debut on February 1, 2004 on NBC with a special "Battle Of Champions" tournament, which aired against CBS coverage of the Super Bowl XXXVIII pre-game show. The Travel Channel aired the first five seasons of the Tour. In April 2007, WPTE announced that the series would move to GSN for its sixth season in the spring of 2008. The first WPT tournament to air on GSN, the Mirage Poker Showdown, debuted on March 24, 2008.

Commentary

The show's hosts Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten give the impression that all of their commentary is recorded live as the tournament happens, and they have occasionally interacted with the players during the game. However, their comments about hole cards are recorded after the tournament takes place because state gaming regulations prohibit them from observing a live feed of the "hole card cameras". Consequently, the broadcast audio is a mix of the live recording, and commentary recorded in post-production.

Reception

The drawing power of the WPT and most other poker tournaments is that anyone who can pay the "buy-in" (an amount ranging from $2,500 to $25,000) or win a "satellite" tournament is able to compete against the top professional players.

Fans of the show find it interesting because of technical innovations such as the ability to see the players' hole cards through a small camera in front of them on the poker table (an innovation first seen on the UK program Late Night Poker). With the success of the show, special programs, such as the "Hollywood Home Game" (featuring celebrities playing for charity) and "Ladies Night" (featuring six top women players) were developed.

In 2004, the World Poker Tour created a Walk of Fame, inducting poker legends Doyle Brunson and Gus Hansen as well as actor James Garner.

Now in its fifth season of broadcast, it still remains among the highest rated television programs on cable. It airs Wednesdays on the Travel Channel. The first three seasons of WPT are also available on NTSC DVD. (The second season DVD set features audio commentary by several of the players. The third season is only available in a "Best Of" format, featuring just half of the episodes.) CITY TV airs the WPT on Sundays at 4pm PST in Canada with a rebroadcast at Midnight (or shortly after depending on the length of their Sunday Night Movie. The series will move to Monday nights when it moves to GSN in 2008.

A series of spin-off tournaments, titled the Professional Poker Tour, began filming in 2004. Broadcast of the series was delayed, in part because of a dispute with the Travel Channel over rights. In the fall of 2005, WPTE announced that "a cable channel" (believed to be ESPN) had withdrawn from bidding for the PPT series, and that WPTE was negotiating with the Travel Channel to air the series. On January 30, 2006, WPTE and the Travel Channel announced that they had dismissed all open lawsuits. The series began regular broadcast July 5, 2006, but was suspended after one season as WPTE couldn't find a television home for a second season.

WPT Ladies

In January 2008, the WPT announced a set of tournaments for women, known as WPT Ladies. The first season will have five events, with buy-ins ranging from $300 to $1,500. The final table of the final event will be televised.

Deal

A fictional WPT championship match is the setting for the 2007 feature film Deal. Sexton, Van Patten, and Friel are slated to play themselves and a number of other poker professionals and poker-playing celebrities are reportedly in the cast. The WPT set was shipped to New Orleans for filming following the season 4 championship. (Credit: Wikipedia).

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News

WPT Championship Begins Saturday - 16th April 2009
(Credit: Poker News Daily)

On Saturday, the World Poker Tour (WPT) Championship will kick off from the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The $25,000 buy-in tournament is the last stop of Season VII and will crown a champion seven days later.

Last year, David Chiu emerged victorious from a pack of 545 entrants en route to victory. He pocketed $3.4 million for his efforts, one of the largest paydays in WPT history. The finale featured Chiu take on Full Tilt Poker pro Gus Hansen, one of the world’s most feared players. Hansen landed a $1.7 million consolation prize. Also at the final table were John Roveto (third for $923,355), Cory “UGOTPZD” Carroll (fourth for $593,645), Tommy Le (fifth for $395,725), and Jeff King (sixth for $263,815). A total of 100 players finished in the money during the Season VI WPT Championship.

In a tournament series that has seen a bevy of events come and go, the WPT Championship has remained a staple. The annual end of year gala has seen some of the world’s top poker players dominate. During the Season V WPT Championship, “The Spaniard” Carlos Mortensen triumphed over a field of 639 players and cashed for $3.9 million. He defeated World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelet winner Kirk Morrison heads-up; Morrison took home $2.0 million for his efforts. Others who claimed life-changing money were Paul Lee (third for $1.1 million), Guy Laliberte (fourth for $696,220), Tim Phan (fifth for $464,110), and Mike Wattel (sixth for $309,405).

The Season IV final table will go down as one of the most talented in the history of the WPT. In the end, Joe Bartholdi, a poker player in his 20s, bested Davidson Matthew heads-up and grabbed $3.8 million. Roland de Wolfe, James Van Alstyne, and Men “The Master” Nguyen also made the final table. During Season III, Tuan Le outlasted Paul Maxfield heads-up in a tournament that attracted 453 entrants. The duo were joined by Hasan Habib, John “The Razor” Phan, European Poker Tour (EPT) Monte Carlo Grand Final winner Rob Hollink, and Phil Ivey at the televised final table.

Season II saw Martin de Knijff battle Habib in the finale, with the former coming out on top and earning $2.7 million. Matt Matros and recent Bay 101 Shooting Star Champion Steve Brecher were also at the final table, taking third and sixth, respectively. The first ever WPT Championship was held in 2003, with Alan Goehring defeating Kirill Gerasimov. Goehring earned $1 million for the win over a final table that also featured Ivey, Doyle Brunson, and Ted Forrest. The $25,000 buy-in event is the richest of any WPT tournament. Each event’s winner during the regular season takes home an entry.

Here is the schedule for the seventh annual WPT Championship at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. All times are local:

Saturday, April 18th, 2009: Day 1A, 12:00pm
Sunday, April 19th, 2009: Day 1B, 12:00pm
Monday, April 20th, 2009: Day 2, 12:00pm
Tuesday, April 21st, 2009: Day 3, 12:00pm
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009: Day 4, 12:00pm
Thursday, April 23rd, 2009: Day 5, 12:00pm
Friday, April 24th, 2009: Day 6, 12:00pm
Saturday, April 25th, 2009: Final Table, TBA

In addition to the WPT Championship, a $540 buy-in ClubWPT side event will take place on April 23rd at 2:00pm. ClubWPT is the tournament series’ subscription-based online poker room that accepts customers from the United States. Super satellites to the Main Event are also taking place daily. The final opportunity for players to win their way into the WPT Championship occurs on Saturday at 10:00pm; super satellite tournaments boast a $1,590 price tag.

The Season VII WPT Championship will air on Fox Sports Net, which also holds the rights to broadcast Season VIII of the roving tournament series. New episodes air on Sunday nights.

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