Friday, July 18, 2014

WPT Alpha8 High Rolling into a Second Season

Among the poker news items here at week’s end is that the World Poker Tour’s Alpha8 is coming back for a second season, that “high roller” series which featured four stops during its first season in Florida, London, St. Kitts, and Johannesburg.

The new season will begin with a return trip to London in October, where the buy-in will be £60,000, roughly the equivalent of the usual $100K price tag for these tourneys. For the first go-round for the Alpha8 in London the buy-in was £100,000.

Then in December the tour goes to the Bellagio for a $100,000 event. That stop will coincide with a regular WPT stop, which may well help increase the overall turnout there.

With the first season done, I was curious to look through just who played those first four Alpha8 events, all of which featured small fields with many of the same players showing up to more than one of them.

The Florida stop (which I had a chance to cover) drew 18 players and 21 total entries. In London there were again 18 players, and with two re-entries a total of 20 buy-ins.

St. Kitts was the most popular Alpha8 stop during the first season, with 28 total entries and 23 individual players. Then only nine players made it to South Africa for the final stop, with one re-buying to make the total entries 10.

I’ve been watching some of the shows on Fox Sports 1 which have been entertaining, though very different in feel from most other poker programming thanks largely to the small fields -- more Poker After Dark or High Stakes Poker, I suppose, than the usual WPT shows or the WSOP broadcasts.

A total of 43 different players have taken part in WPT Alpha8 events thus far. Three have played all four of them -- Jeff Gross, Philipp Gruissem, and Erik Seidel. Gruissem won twice (London and St. Kitts), Gross finished third and in the money once (Florida), and Seidel went 0-for-4.

One other player has spent more than Seidel on Alpha8 buy-ins so far, with Antonio Esfandiari firing five times total in three events, including twice in London where the buy-in was £100,000. That adds up to about $640,000 total (with no cashes for the Magician).

A total of 14 of the 43 players who have participated in Alpha8 events have cashed in at least one, with Scott Seiver the only one besides Gruissem to make the money twice (finishing second in London and fifth in St. Kitts).

Here’s a table showing the entries and results for the 43 Alpha8 players (click to embiggen):

Will be interesting to see if the second season attracts different players and/or if fields grow or remain in the usual two-to-three table range.

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