Okay, so obviously the WPT didn’t find a cure or some magical solution to all the problems that came out of the pandemic, but they have certainly defeated some of the deleterious effects the poker world has endured.
Live poker has felt the effects of COVID-19 harsher than many other industries. Other than healthcare providers, live poker is right up there with restaurants and live entertainment for being gutted by the pandemic. Casino closures, reduced hours in poker rooms and canceled tournament series left many live players out in the cold during 2020 and 2021. While live poker is back on an upswing, many events and poker rooms are not back to their pre-COVID attendance levels.
This is not true for the World Poker Tour as their events have been consistently smashing attendance records for their casino hosts. Thus far in 2022 four WPT tournaments have set attendance records.
There were 757 entrants in the WPTDeepStacks tournament in Amsterdam this year. This is the new record for tournament entries for the host casino Holland Casino Amsterdam. The €1,100 buy-in generated a prize pool of over €734,000, the lion’s share going to Santo Bakker who took first place for €130,690.
Meet the newest WPTDeepStacks Champion, Santo Bakker!
The 20-year-old from the Netherlands bested the 757-entry field @HollandCasino, claiming the €130,690 first-place prize and winning the first WPT event he ever played.
Quite a start to his rookie year on the felt. pic.twitter.com/0NmmcVj3b8
— World Poker Tour (@WPT) April 2, 2022
WPT Prime Vietnam
The next record-breaking turnout was in Vietnam at WPT Prime Vietnam. The Crown Poker Club in Hanoi saw 777 entries into the 25,000,000 VND (~$1,070) Main Event, leading to a prize pool of over $738,000. Zarvan Tumboli bested the field of 777 eager poker players to take down the trophy along with $131,394.
Zarvan Tumboli won his way into the WPT history books by taking down the 777-entry field of the WPT Prime Vietnam Main Event at the Crown Poker Club in Hanoi to become the first-ever WPT Prime champion!
Zarvan takes home the trophy, the glory, and $131,134 USD for first! pic.twitter.com/gRv6gk1PJ1
— World Poker Tour (@WPT) May 30, 2022
WPT Thunder Valley
Not all of the record-breaking poker tournaments took place outside of the States though. This year at WPT Thunder Valley at the Thunder Valley Casino Resort, 1,414 players entered the WPTDeepStacks tournament. With a prize pool of $1,873,550, every player was naturally hoping to claim the top spot. That distinction went to Carl Oman who turned his $1,500 buy-in into $188,139. This was the largest tournament field Thunder Valley Casino Resort had ever seen.
Carl Oman walks away with the lion’s share of the prize pool at the WPTDeepStacks @TVPokerRoom Main Event after a five-way deal!
With the chip lead over the final five, Oman takes home $188,139 and the WPTDeepStacks Trophy.
— World Poker Tour (@WPT) May 2, 2022
WPT Main Event Sydney
Last and certainly not least is the WPT Main Event hosted in Sydney, Australia at The Star Sydney. A whopping 2,023 players paid their $1,500 (AUD) for a shot at first place. The massive turnout led to $2,690,590 in the prize pool and was the largest field for any WPT Main Event in the tour’s history. This was great news for Mark Fester who took it down for $309,025 ($412,981 AUD).
— World Poker Tour (@WPT) April 11, 2022
A Strong Past, Present, and Future for the WPT
It’s no surprise that the WPT is having an impressive 2022. For the last 20 years, they have been crowning champions all over the world. Numerous well-known poker pros like Antonio Esfandiari, Nick Schulman, Barry Greenstein, Daniel Negreanu, Eli Elezra, and Michael Mizrachi have been crowned as WPT champions. An impressive roster no doubt, but arguably most people would likely find the entry numbers for 2022 far more impressive than the big names that compete in these tournaments.
While many other casinos and tournament series are still struggling to regain momentum in the post-COVID world, the World Poker Tour not only seems unfazed, but they are thriving like never before! The WPT has been a powerhouse in live poker tournaments since its debut in 2002, and it is clear they are still hosting amazing tournaments 20 years later. After all, they wouldn’t have four new attendance records in 2022 alone if they didn’t have a good product.
Like any well-run business, WPT is focused on creating the best product possible. They scout the best casinos across the globe to host their tournaments. There is ample coverage of the events, which always draws in a crowd. They have affordable buy-ins for recreational players, some high roller tournaments, and the rake is reasonable. All of these make for a great tournament experience. With well-run poker tournaments being hosted across the world, the WPT will likely continue to grow the game of poker and break records wherever they land.
If you find yourself looking for a good poker trip I suggest taking a look at the WPT schedule. While Vegas is everyone’s destination for a poker vacation — the WPT Venetian with a $4 million guaranteed Main Event starts next week — I will undoubtedly be looking for an excuse to hit a WPT event in the near future. Fingers crossed they come to a casino near you!