The World Poker Tour
The World Poker Tour (WPT) is putting tournament poker in the spotlight and is composed of two different aspects. On one hand, it is an elite high stakes Texas Hold'em tournament drawing both amateurs as well as poker professionals. On the other hand, it is a television show on the Travel Channel, intended to hit a massive target audience of novice poker players.
Both the tournament side and the television side of the event are equally impressive. The World Poker Tour has boosted the popularity of poker around the world through its poker tournaments and the WPT television shows seen on the Travel Channel.
The World Poker Tour tournament season begins in July and ends with the World Poker Tour Championship in April at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, Nevada. There are fourteen poker tournaments on the Tour at various locations ranging from Paris, France, to the mainland USA, to a luxury ocean cruise.
The only qualification for entering any of these poker tournaments is showing up with the buy-in which is usually $10,000.
In each of the 14 tournaments preceding the WPT Championship the winner receives both a $25,000 buy in to the World Poker Tour Championship, and the grand prize for the tournament itself.
Individual tournament prizes vary depending on the number of entrants. Make it to the final table of one of these poker tournaments and you get a share of the tournament prize money while your friends get to watch you on television.
In addition to standard tournaments, each season the World Poker Tour holds a celebrity invitational tournament. This tournament pits Hollywood celebrities against poker professionals. Aside from being fun to watch, celebrities have a chance to win a large chunk of money for their favorite charity, as well as a seat at the WPT Championship tournament.
The final table at each World Poker Tour tournament is filmed in front of a live audience and televised on the Travel Channel.
Many features of the WPT television show make it very viewer friendly: small cameras that show each players hole cards, play-by-play commentary, definitions of poker lingo, and on screen displays of percentages, and how these percentages change as cards fall.
Another feature which makes the WPT unique is the commentary. Two commentators give play-by-play commentary throughout the show. One of the more beneficial things this does is provide some background information on each of the players.
Given that not all of the hands that get dealt are televised, the commentators will let the viewing audience know what recently happened off camera - who won, who lost and against whom. They let the audience know why a player might be playing extra tight or loose. It also adds a great deal of color to the show. The commentary is geared more toward the novice player.
You can always buy directly into the World Poker Tour Championship which is held in April as part of Bellagio Casino's World Poker Classic. The game is No Limit Texas Hold'em.
The winner of the 2004 World Poker Tour Championship was Martin Deknijff. The 2004 first place prize was $2,728,356, at the time the largest first prize ever paid in tournament poker.
Players can also get into the World Poker Tour tournaments through satellite poker tournaments. The host casino for each WPT tournament will typically hold satellite poker tournaments.
These satellite tournaments have a smaller buy-in and the winners of the satellite tournaments get their buy-in paid to the World Poker Tour tournament. Bellagio Casino even holds satellite tournaments for the WPT Championship in the weeks preceding the Championship.
The World Poker Tour draws large audiences due to its ability to draw the novice player into the game. Another huge draw of the WPT is that anyone can enter. Most of the tournaments are open to anyone with the money to buy in.
If players do not have the money to spare to buy directly into a tournament, most of the World Poker Tour tournaments have satellite tournaments. This allows novice players to try their hand, potentially winning a spot in one of the WPT tournaments for as little as $10.
The thrill of big money, the ability for anyone to enter, and the high quality television broadcast make the World Poker Tour one of the most popular poker television shows on the air, as well as a very popular series of poker tournaments. A tribute to its popularity, the World Poker Tour Championship, Season 1, was the second highest rated individual program in the Travel Channel history.
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