Qualifying online for one of the WPT events presented on this page is possible through some very low-buy-in sub-satellites or some heftier buy-in direct qualifiers.
THE WORLD POKER TOUR
The World Poker Tour consists of a series of high profile poker tournaments held all over the world (most events do take place in the U.S. though). It is the playground of the best poker players in the world, and it is credited by some for the popularity explosion poker (live and online) has seen in recent years. Others may argue that the popularity explosion was in fact set off by the WSOP victories of Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer, but the fact remains, that through its very nature (it is a televised show) the WPT had managed to bring poker excitement into the homes of regular people before the aforementioned victories occurred.
Founded by television producer Steven Lipscomb, the WPT started in 2002 and began airing in the first part of 2003. The high-stakes Texas Holdem action featured is commentated by poker legend Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten, in a rather peculiar manner. Although upon watching the show one could swear the commentary is live, it’s actually not, because state laws forbid anyone to take a live peek at players’ hole cards. The commentary is done later, but it’s done in a manner that makes it seem live. The actual sounds and the commentary are then mixed together in post-production. With this little twist, the producers have managed to relay the atmosphere and the magic of a live high stakes poker game virtually unscathed, a factor that obviously contributed a great deal to the success of the show.
The true appeal of the WPT is due to something else though: its accessibility. While the direct buy-ins to the events themselves may seem prohibitive for most, there are a bunch of live satellites held for each one of them, to which the entry is much more reasonable. On top of that, every noteworthy online poker room features a whole bunch of satellites and sub satellites for different WPT events. Because of the intricate nature of online qualifying systems (there are many levels of sub-sub-sub satellites) it is theoretically possible for one to win a seat in a WPT event for a handful of poker points or for some small change.
The events that regularly make up the WPT are the following:
The Bellagio Cup (Las Vegas)
The Legends of Poker (L.A. – Bicycle Casino)
The Borgata Poker Open (Atlantic City)
Festa el Lago (Las Vegas)
The North American Poker Championship (Niagara Falls)
Foxwoods World Poker Finals (Mashantucket)
The Five Diamond World Poker Classic (Las Vegas)
The Gulf Coast Poker Championship (Biloxi)
The Borgata Poker Classic (Atlantic City)
The L.A. Poker Classic (L.A. – Commerce Casino)
The WPT Celebrity Invitational (L.A. – Commerce Casino)
Bay 101 Shooting Star (San Jose)
Foxwoods Poker Classic (Mashantucket)
The WPT world Championship (Las Vegas)
WPT Spanish Championship (non-televised, Barcelona)
The first 5 seasons of the WPT were aired by the Travel Channel and were hosted by Shana Hiatt (the first 3), by Courtney Friel (the 4th) and by Sabina Gadecki (the 5th). Starting with 2007, the WPTE moved its operations to GSN. The first season six tournament began in March 2008, hosted by Kimberly Lansing and Layla Kayleigh.
Due to the immense success of the show, several things happened: some special events were added (like the ‘Ladies Night’ and ‘Hollywood Home Game’), and spin-offs were produced (it wouldn’t be a successful TV show if it didn’t produce any spin-offs, now would it?), like the ‘Professional Poker Tour’.
In 2006 trouble reared its head for the WPT. Seven poker professionals (amongst which Chris Ferguson, Annie Duke and Howard Lederer) sued the WPTE for alleged contract abuse. The contracts that the WPTE signed with the casinos which host WPT events stipulated that those casinos were forbidden to host non-WPT poker events. The contracts that they signed with the participants gave the WPTE the right to use the participants’ likenesses in any way they wished to. This led to participants’ contracts conflicting with other, previous contractual engagements they had with other companies. The issue was settled in April, 2008.
Starting 2008, the WPT will launch WPT Ladies, a set of tourneys reserved exclusively for women.
Based on players’ overall performances during a whole season, the WPT gives out a ‘player of the year’ award. In season 1 it was Howard Lederer who got the honors, in Season 2 it was Erick Lindgren’s turn, followed by Daniel Negreanu, Gavin Smith, J.C Tran and Jonathan Little in seasons 3, 4, and 6 respectively.