Season XVII of the World Poker Tour is going to look like no season ever before it. As part of the WPT’s partnership with Esports Arena Las Vegas at Luxor Casino & Hotel, all televised final tables are moving to the original home of the World Poker Tour.
According to WPT CEO Adam Pliska and VP of Global Tour Management Angelica Hael, the number of final tables taking place at Esports Arena Las Vegas is nine: eight Main Tour events, plus the season-ending Tournament of Champions.
These events were not formally confirmed by the WPT at Saturday’s media summit at Luxor. All properties who are in line to have their final tables hosted at Esports Arena Las Vegas are pending state and Nevada Gaming License approval.
After final tables are reached, tournaments will be placed on a hiatus between the end of play at the host property and the final table in Las Vegas. The estimate is three to six weeks between play. Per the WPT, the goal is to have spans of final tables play out consecutively over a single week.
“It’s no secret that the home of global poker is here in Las Vegas,” said Hael. “In many respects, it makes perfect sense to move WPT final tables of televised events to be here. The move aims not to just take WPT to new heights, but to also elevate the game of poker as a whole. It is going to be a location where we can celebrate and honor our industry-leading events and also elevate the experience of our champions.”
New home for the WPT
Esports Arena Las Vegas is the modern hub for gaming, and now poker, on the Las Vegas strip. WPT’s parent company, Ourgame, owns multiple eSports arenas across the globe and opened Esports Arena Las Vegas in March 2018. Luxor is also an MGM Resorts property. MGM and the WPT are partners dating back to Season I.
Spectators are treated to a premier viewing experience for poker upon entering Esports Arena Las Vegas. The stage is a size that rivals Broadway with the production to match. 50-foot tall LED screens with the WPT logo stands behind the table with cyan lights scattered across the stage.
Players enter the arena through the ‘Hype Tunnel.’ A hallway striped with fluorescent lighting that conjures images of Blade Runner 2049.
The over $20 million investment to build Esports Arena Las Vegas reflects in the live action should do the same in the television episodes for Season XVII.
Pliska reflected this sentiment.
“The amazing blessing of this is it not only guarantees you’ll see this show for [up to] 15 more years, it looks better,” Pliska said. “There’s no question, it’s a sport. We’ve said it’s a sport and now we have the venue for it.”
Hael alluded comparing Esports Arena Las Vegas potentially being the iconic location for poker in a similar way to what Madison Square Garden is for basketball.
Break equals exposure
A goal of the World Poker Tour with their new playground is to boost the presence of their final tablists. During the break between tournament play at the host property and the final table, the projection is to give all six players a profile usually reserved for just the champion of the event.
“We are dedicated to promoting players going into this event because we know that their story needs to be told,” WPT Marketing Manager Donnie Peters said.
Season-long storylines for the major events are condensed into just a few weeks of poker. The Player of the Year race switches in a span of days instead of a yearlong grind to the finish line.
Revamped schedule for Season XVII
“Our entire schedule has changed,” WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage said. “Because of this change, we’ve had to rearrange our entire schedule. Not only is it going to be a big change for the poker players, it’s going to be a change for us.”
All WPT Main Tour events in Season XVII that are going to be televised, are on hold to start until at least the end of the year.
The Borgata Poker Open in Atlantic City, NJ has long been a televised event on the WPT every September. The event is a candidate to be live streamed in Season XVII. This year’s Borgata Poker Open runs from September 16-21.
Season XVII opens at the Gardens Casino in Hawaiian Gardens, CA in with the $5,000 buy-in WPT Gardens Poker Festival. The event runs July 21-26. The casino first hosted the WPT in 2017 when the WPT500 Los Angeles tournament played.
WPT Choctaw returns August 3-7 in Durant, OK. The Season XVI edition was the first North American stop of the campaign and drew 924 entrants.
The Bicycle Hotel and Casino is not a Main Tour stop for the 2018 portion of the schedule. Legends of Poker is, for now, WPT500 Los Angeles with a $1 million guarantee starting August 18 and concluding on August 27.
Other familiar tour stops back on the schedule for 2018 are WPT Maryland (September 21-25), WPT bestbet Bounty Scramble (October 19-23), and the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic (December 10-15).
Season XVII WPT Schedule for 2018
|WPT Gardens Poker Festival||Hawaiian Gardens, CA||July 21-26||$5,000|
|WPT Choctaw||Durant, OK||August 3-7||$3,700|
|WPT500 Los Angeles||Los Angeles, CA||August 18-27||$570|
|WPT Borgata Poker Open||Atlantic City, NJ||September 16-21||$3,500|
|WPT Maryland at Live! Casino||Arundel Mills, MD||September 21-25||$3,500|
|WPT bestbet Bounty Scramble||Jacksonville, FL||October 19-23||$5,000|
|WPT Seminole Rock N Roll Poker Open||Hollywood, FL||November 23-28||$3,500|
|WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic||Las Vegas, NV||December 10-15||$10,400|
Lead image courtesy of the World Poker Tour/Flickr