The World Poker Tour has set a new benchmark with its WPT Prime Series of tournaments. The WPT Prime Championship held this past December at the Wynn, Las Vegas had a staggering 5,430 entrants and saw Stephen Song of Greenwich, CT taking home the grand prize of $712,650. After an amazing 20th anniversary celebration in 2022, the decision was made to unveil a new trophy that befits this new benchmark. Thus, the WPT Prime “Perpetual” Trophy will be presented at the currently ongoing WPT Prime Vietnam festival.
WPT Vietnam was chosen because it was the debut Prime stop in 2022. This year’s WPT Prime Vietnam Main Event begins today, May 25th, and will have three starting flights. The buy-in will be $1,000 and the event will offer a guaranteed prize pool of $511,000.
After months of working with multiple designers and production companies, the WPT chose the “Ballerina” design because of the beautiful flow of its wings, and its uncanny resemblance to the Main Tour cup. The Main Tour Cup, renamed The Mike Sexton Champions Cup in July 2020, is a coveted and well-recognized trophy in the poker community. It was renamed in honor of Mike Sexton, longtime WPT Commentator. Every WPT champion has their name permanently inscribed on the cup along with the winning hand from each player’s victory.
Mike Sexton, of course, was inducted into the Poker Hall of Famer in 2009 and was the WPT Honors recipient in 2017. Sexton recorded $6,708,146 in live tournament earnings during his career. One of his biggest prizes was for the 2006 No Limit Hold’em tournament at the WSOP Tournament of Champions in Las Vegas for $1 million after nabbing first place. In 2009, Sexton along with Linda Johnson, Jan Fisher and Lisa Tenner, created PokerGives.org, a nonprofit organization that provides a way for poker players and the poker industry to give back to various charities.
The Prime Trophy may mirror the Mike Sexton Champions Cup but with one difference. Instead of every player being inscribed on the cup, the trophy will display a QR code at its center, which will link to a Prime Champions page on the World Poker Tour website. The WPT Prime perpetual trophy will travel to every Prime Tour stop, and a replica of that trophy will be awarded to each Prime main event winner to take home.
The WPT Prime Perpetual Trophy’s Evolution and Significance
While the trophy is new, the WPT had always wanted to create something special for their mid-major tour. When it was decided to revamp the entire Tour in 2021, introducing WPT Prime, it provided the perfect opportunity to execute this longtime goal. Cardplayer Lifestyle spoke with Adam Pliska, President and CEO of the WPT about the significance of the new trophy.
Why was the creation of this trophy important to the World Poker Tour?
Considering the significance and recognizability that the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup has embodied over the years, we have always dreamed of creating a similar, iconic piece. With the evolution of WPT in 2021, we saw the revamping of WPTDeepStacks into the WPT Prime as the perfect opportunity to implement another one-of-a-kind trophy to the tour.
Can you elaborate on the significance of the trophy design mirroring the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup but also having its own image?
I could not tell you how many design options we went through before landing on the perfect one. To be honest, we were not necessarily looking to create the Prime trophy in the image of the Champions Cup at first. However, when the ‘Ballerina’ concept was presented to us, we instantly saw the resemblance and knew our heart was set on that direction. The individuality of the design was of course important to distinguish the two tours and the most significant difference is the unique QR code capability that comes with the new Prime trophy.
What are your aspirations for this tour in the future?
The Prime Tour has only just begun. We aspire to continuously expand its reach to bring the WPT experience to all corners of the world. Along with that notion, we would like to foster longstanding partnerships that become staples of the tour, festivals that players look forward to year after year. WPT Prime is a great entry point for players that can lead them toward a deeper journey into their poker aspirations.
Thus, the WPT Prime Trophy will in essence be shared by all poker players, as it travels to each stop on the tour. The hope for many will now become to have their own version of the trophy to bring home.