Outside of the
of Poker, the
World Poker Tour
is the most recognizable tournament series in the game today. Its weekly
broadcasts on the
Channel the WPT are some of the most watched poker tournaments on
television, and it's safe to say that the flood of poker programming that
has hit the airwaves in the last year can be directly attributed to the
WPT's success. After three years of bringing the highest buy-in tournaments
in the world to the American viewing public, the WPT is now in its fourth
season and it's bigger and better than ever. Here's a rundown of this year's
The Mirage in Las Vegas was home
to the WPT's Season 4 kickoff event , the Mirage Poker Showdown. 317 players
ponied up ten grand apiece for the chance at a first prize worth over $1
million and a seat at the $25,000 WPT Championship at the end of the season.
After three days of grinding tournament play, the final table was set to
begin on May 26. World-class player Ted Forrest was the marquee player at
the table, and he was joined by Mark Ellerbe, Eugene Todd, Chris Bell, Gavin
Smith, and Thang Pham.
Up next was the Grand Prix de Paris at
the Aviation Club in Paris,
France. The field was smaller this time around, with only 160
players filling up the world-famous Aviation Club. The buy-in of 10,000
euros per player created a 1.5 million euro prize pool. Roland De Wolfe,
Juha Helppi, Michel Zajdenberg, Tim Anders, Curt Kohlberg, and Alan Goehring
made the July 29 final table of this event, and De Wolfe walked away with
the first prize of 480,000 euros and entry to the WPT Championship.
The Legends of Poker, held at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles, CA, was the
season's third event. Though the buy-in was a mere $5,000, the field didn't
top that of the Mirage. 239 players entered to create a $4.1 million prize
pool. Kenna James, Jake Minter, Tim Phan, Alex Kahaner, Todd Phillips, and
Kevin O'Donnell made the August 31 final table. It was the Israeli, Kahaner,
who walked away with the $1,125,000 first prize and a seat in the WPT
WPT Ladies' Night, a tradition for the last two seasons, continued this
season. Six women were invited to play in this season's made-for-TV
tournament: Aidiliy Elviro (wife of Michael Mizrachi), Marsha Waggoner,
Spanish Cecilia Reyes (wife of Carlos Mortensen), defending champion
Isabelle "No Mercy" Mercier, WSOP Ladies' Event bracelet winner
Tilly, and Terresa Gallagher. Tilly held off the rest of the field
to win a seat to this season's WPT Championship.
The Borgata Poker Open, held at the stylish Borgata casino in
Atlantic City, NJ, drew the largest field of any Season 4 WPT event to that
point. 515 players put up $9,700 to enter the tournament on September 19,
creating a $5 million prize pool. By September 22 the field had been
whittled down to the final six: Al Ardebili, Richard Q Festejo, Kathy
Liebert, John D'Agostino, Robert Hwang, and David Singer. Local player
Ardebili won the $1,498,650 first prize and the WPT Championship entry.
UltimateBet's Aruba Poker Classic was held in late September for the
fourth straight year, and it was a smash hit once again. A whopping 647
players entered the tournament for $5,000 on September 26, creating a $3.1
million prize pool. By October 1 only six remained:
Joss Schlein, Johan Storakers, Devin Porter, Robert Border, and Stacy
Matuson. Professional player Deeb took home a cool $1 million for his
victory, and also won his seat in the WPT Championship.
Season 4 continues at the
Brunson North American Poker Championship main event this week at
the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and next week at the World Poker Finals at
Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, CT.