Op-Ed: Is the WPT vs. WSOP Winter Showdown Good for Poker?

The recent announcement of a WSOP in December means we’ll end 2023 with at least two major tournament festivals, but is that a good thing?


Is it good that the WPT World Championship and WSOP Paradise will go head-to-head in December? (Image: Pixabay)

December has often been a busy time for poker players in Europe with events such as EPT Prague traditionally attracting large crowds. Players have also had access to tournaments elsewhere in the world leading up to the holidays, but things have changed over the last 12 months.

The 2022 WPT World Championship surpassed all expectations. CardsChat saw the hype firsthand and the feeling from a number of people we spoke to was that it felt like a winter WSOP. The organizers, of course, didn’t equate it to the WSOP.

The WPT is a tournament behemoth in its own right. However, there’s no doubt the festival, including its main event, had a WSOP-like vibe. Pros and qualifiers from all over the world enjoyed a party atmosphere at the Wynn Las Vegas just before the festive season.

WPT stakes its claim as festive favorite

It was an important moment for the WPT and, moreover, the poker industry. As such, the WPT is bringing back the WPT World Championship in December and, by all accounts, it will be bigger than before.

Not to be outdone, the WSOP recently announced the Paradise Series. Was it a move to stake its claim as the real Winter WSOP? Was it a reaction to the record-breaking WSOP in Las Vegas, or is it a sign of the times? It’s probably a combination of all three.

The WPT and WSOP are rivals. They largely keep out of each other’s way in terms of scheduling, but they’re the two biggest tournament operators right now, so there’s always going to be competition for branding and attention.

WPT World Championship

The WPT World Championship was a seminal moment for tournament poker in 2022. (Image: Flickr/WPT)

We also know the WSOP in Las Vegas was a huge success, so parlaying that into a winter series makes sense. It’s also a good time for poker. The industry might not be as buoyant as it was during the Moneymaker era, but things are better now than they’ve been for a long time.

Thus, we’ve now got two major tournament festivals taking place in December. Then, if you move into January, PokerStars Caribbean Adventure makes it three in less than eight weeks. Is that too much action or is it good to have more options?

Those are tough questions to answer. Indeed, there’s no right or wrong in this situation. On the one hand, it would be nice to have some space between major tournament festivals so that pros can play them all. However, on the other hand, people are free to choose.

Are there enough players to go around?

Players who want to spend December in Las Vegas can. Others who want something a bit different can travel to the Bahamas. There is room enough for two when it comes to tournament poker and, ultimately, the event that doesn’t get enough attention will fade away.

That’s how things work in a competitive market. However, the clash of schedules may also create an unnecessary casualty. The WPT World Championship and WSOP Paradise might kill each other when they could have thrived by going at different times.

Adam Walton

The WSOP in Las Vegas has inspired a new winter series in the Bahamas. (Image: WSOP)

This is all hypothetical at this point. We don’t know if overlapping schedules will affect either festival, but it’s worth thinking about these things. Poker is thriving right now and that’s always going to create more demand for action.

The WSOP has responded and competition means more value for poker players in the short-term. Only time will tell if the industry can sustain two winter festivals and turn this short-team value into something longer lasting.

Written by
Daniel Smyth
Dan Smyth is a poker media journeyman who politely reminds CardsChat readers that poker is played all around the world, not just America.

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