The World Poker Tour is a series of high-stake poker tournaments that are broadcast globally in over 150 different countries. Developed by its parent company WPT Enterprises, Inc., the main poker tour is just one facet of the companies reach into poker. They also have an additional super high stakes tour, cruises, an online gaming site, additional poker tours, as well as several other smaller facets of the business.
WPT Enterprises, Inc. started their drive into the poker industry in 2002 and have been on an upward growth spike with significant expansion ever since. In 2009, the WPT was sold to PartyGaming for $12.3 million dollars. In 2014, the WPT formed an alliance with gaming provider Ourgame to begin expansion into the Asian market. Not more than a year later, the WPT elected to buy Ourgame for $35 million in an all cash offer.
The Main Poker Tour
The most notable aspect of the WPT brand is the World Poker Tour’s main tour. Winners of these marquee events have their names etched onto the Champion’s Cup and inducted into the Champion’s Club. Winners also receive a WPT bracelet and prize money usually in the high six to low seven figures range.
Most stops on the WPT have preliminary events leading up to the main event. The buy-ins for these preliminary events are always changing but usually, start around $500. The Main Event buy-ins also range in value from usually £2200 up to either $15,000 or $25,000 US for the season long championship event. The number of stops is usually somewhere between 15 and 20 locations all around the world.
The season culminates in the World Championship event that for many years was a $25,000 event at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Over the past few years, the buy-in for the Championship event has dropped to $15,000, and the location has fluctuated. The name of the event was also changed from the WPT Championship to the WPT World Championship at the end of season 8 and to the WPT Tournament of Champions going into season 14.
All of the WPT events are open to all participants as long as you have the cash for the buy-in. It is a common misconception that there are “tour cards” or some system like that needed to be involved in a major poker tour. Part of the allure of poker and these major tours is that anyone can come compete if they have the money to pay the entry fee.
Player of the Year and Champion Systems
The WPT has two different systems for determining the season champion and the Player of the Year. Season Champion is decided by the player who wins the end of the year Main Event. It does not matter if the player has won or even competed in any earlier tournaments, just how they finish in the final event.
The prize pools of the WPT Championship events saw a rise from season 1 through season 6, but have seen a steady decline ever since. Here is the list of former Champions as well as how much they won for winning first prize:
WPT Championship – Season I
WPT Championship – Season II
Martin De Knijff
WPT Championship – Season III
WPT Championship – Season IV
Joe Bartholdi Jr
WPT Championship – Season V
WPT Championship – Season VI
WPT Championship – Season VII
WPT Championship – Season VIII
WPT World Championship – Season IX
WPT World Championship – Season X
WPT World Championship – Season XI
WPT World Championship – Season XII
WPT World Championship – Season XIII
WPT Tournament of Champions – Season XIV
WPT Tournament of Champions – Season XV
While this player is known as the Champion, most people hold the Player of the Year in much higher regard as it is how the player performed throughout the entire season and not just one event. This eliminates a lot of variance and gives a much better picture of who the strongest player on the tour is.
For seasons 1-8, the final 7 players in each main event were awarded Player of the Year points. The player who finishes the season with the most points is deemed the Player of the Year for that season. Points awarded for seasons 1-8 were as follows:
1st Place – 1,000 points
2nd Place – 700 points
3rd Place – 600 points
4th Place – 500 points
5th Place – 400 points
6th Place – 300 points
7th Place – 200 points
At the end of season 8, the system was changed to award Player of the Year points to all players that finished in the money of the tournament. As the payout structure usually pays around 10% of the field, 10% of the field is awarded points on a sliding scale with the bottom of the scale awarding a minimum of 50 points.
Here is the list of Player of the Year winners until now:
Season 1: Howard Lederer
Season 2: Erick Lindgren
Season 3: Daniel Negreanu
Season 4: Gavin Smith
Season 5: J. C. Tran
Season 6: Jonathan Little
Season 7: Bertrand Grospellier
Season 8: Faraz Jaka
Season 9: Andy Frankenberger
Season 10: Joe Serock
Season 11: Matthew Salsberg
Season 12: Mukul Pahuja
Season 13: Anthony Zinno
Season 14: Mike Shariati
Season 15: Benjamin Zamani
Alpha 8 Series
In 2013, the World Poker Tour added a super high roller series known as the Alpha 8. So far, each season has had four events, each with a $100,000 buy-in event (and a £60,000 event in London). Currently, the WPT doesn’t have any events listed for this year, but there have been no reports of the events being canceled.
Each season since 2015, the WPT has added events with buy-ins of $550. These aim to be a more accessible buy-in to allow players of all skill levels the opportunity to play in WPT events.
The birth child of Chris Torina, the Deepstacks Live Poker Tour merged with the WPT to form WPT-Deepstacks in 2016. The tournament series are held all over the world and are one of the strongest growing parts of the WPT name. Buy-ins range from a couple hundred to the main events that are usually $1100 with a season ending Main Event Championship of $2500. These events are meant to be accessible, yet still lucrative enough to draw in some of the top talents in the industry.