Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Following the WPT Finale

Been kind of wandering in and out of the live updates this afternoon from Day 1b of the WPT World Championship at the Borgata, both on the WPT site and over at PokerNews. (Photo from PN.)

Culminating Season XII of the tour, the World Championship made a big move away from the Bellagio this year following several years’ worth of declining entries and prize pools for the tour’s signature event. Here’s how the tournament -- which had been a $25K event for the first 11 seasons -- grew and shrunk over that period (with winners and first prizes noted):

  • Season I (2003): 111 entries (Alan Goehring, $1,011,886)
  • Season II (2004): 343 (Martin De Knijff, $2,728,356)
  • Season III (2005): 453 (Tuan Le, $2,856,150)
  • Season IV (2006): 605 (Joe Bartholdi, $3,760,165)
  • Season V (2007): 639 (Carlos Mortensen, $3,970,415)
  • Season VI (2008): 545 (David Chiu, $3,389,140)
  • Season VII (2009): 338 (Yevgeniy Timoshenko, $2,143,655)
  • Season VIII (2010): 195 (David Williams, $1,530,537)
  • Season IX (2011): 220 (Scott Seiver, $1,618,344)
  • Season X (2012): 152 (Marvin Rettenmeier, $1,196,858)
  • Season XI (2013): 146 (Chino Rheem, $1,150,279)
  • Wrote something here last May about that trend, then another post in September following the announcement that this year’s finale would play out in Atlantic City rather than Las Vegas.

    Just like those first prizes listed above, the total prize pools went up and then back down in the WPT World Championships during those first 11 years, too, with last year’s total of $3,540,500 marking the lowest for the tourney since Season I’s $2,691,750. It peaked in Season V with a mind-boggling $15,495,750 prize pool.

    Besides moving to the Borgata, this year’s tourney also sports a lowered $15,000+$400 buy-in. Also, as has been the case in recent years, re-entry is an option for players, with one re-entry allowed today for those who busted on Day 1a.

    They set a $5 million guarantee on this year’s WPT World Championship, and while yesterday’s modest turnout of 105 players for Day 1a led some to think that mark wouldn’t be hit today, a bigger field for today’s Day 1b has brought the total up to 318 with a couple more levels’ worth of late registration still available. They are still therefore a few away from hitting the guarantee and may miss it -- in any event, they’ll certainly be close.

    There was a little bit of debate today on Twitter comparing the WPT World Championship with the recently finished Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in Florida, a $3,500 buy-in event that also had a $5 million guarantee. With three Day 1 flights and re-entries allowed (with “best stack forward” an option, too), that one drew 1,795 total entries to make a prize pool of $5,788,875 with the Canadian Eric Afriat winning to claim a $1,081,184 first prize.

    The two events seem fairly different and hard to compare, although both did draw lots of big names and as happened at the Seminole Hard Rock, this week’s WPT World Championship will almost assuredly feature well known players at its final table.

    The WPT generally speaking and its World Championship in particular still carry a little extra prestige that distinguishes this week’s tourney from the one in Florida, too. That said, the last couple of EPT stops bookending it -- Sanremo finished Sunday, the Grand Final in Monaco starts Saturday -- reminds us how EPT titles are now probably just as coveted if not more.

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