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Tisdag 24 November, David Thomson

Poker Tourrnament4The WPT, also known as World Poker Tour, is sponsored by WPT Enterprises, Inc., which is traded publicly on the NASDAQ (WPTE). WPTE is an entertainment and media corporation that engages in developing, producing, and marketing gaming-themed productions that encompasses the WPT, the WPT Amateur Poker League (WPTAPL), the WPT Ladies League, the WPT Boot Camp, WPT Mobile, the WPT Cruises, and other WPT corporate events.

The event that WPTE is most known for is, obviously, the WPT, which was conceived by Steve Lipscomb back in 2001. Lipscomb wanted to televise poker in a more exciting and marketing-friendly way, injecting fun and action into it for the sake of the viewing audience, as well as for the poker players, themselves. He noticed that in televised tournaments, such as the WSOP, the drama and liveliness of a true live poker tournament was not being accurately captured. His idea was to use 16 cameras, now referred to as the “World Poker Tour Cams,” to give viewers a better representation of the live tournament experience, providing insight into the strategy and position of players.

Backing from the poker pros

Lyle Berman, a prominent member of the poker community, believed in the idea of a major league of poker and agreed to provide the financial backing to support the project. With funding secured, Lipscomb then approached only the best casinos to secure venues for the events, wanting to make the right presentation to his audience. Once they had enough casinos on board, he signed up Vince Van Patten and Mike Sexton to present and commentate on the events with ex-playmate, Shana Hiatt, as the hostess and interview reporter.

At first, the show had trouble finding a network, until the Travel Channel jumped on board and offered a full season of primetime air time. The first episode averaged 350,000 viewers. By the end of the first season, they had 1.2 million viewers per episode.

Poker – the new sport

The WPT has definitely had an effect on US poker play and the New York Times attributes the rise in the popularity of poker in part to the WPT (there are roughly 50-80 million poker players in the US today). The WPT is also highly respected for reinventing poker as a sport and reintroducing it to the US as more than just a casino game.

Out of the success of the WPT, WPTE will launch another tour, the Professional Poker Tour (PPT) that will only take players based on their skill level as a poker player, and rather than players buying in, the stakes will be put up by sponsors.