Phil Ivey led a parade of poker stars who hit the poker room at the Wynn for the World Poker Tour Premiere Meet-Up Game on Friday. Hosted by WPT Ambassadors Brad Owen and Andrew Neeme, the event attracted a couple hundred players who couldn’t resist the chance to play some low-stakes poker with the likes of Ivey, Gus Hansen, Ethan Yau, and many others.
They were also there for a chance at getting in the $40 million guaranteed WPT World Championship which runs Dec. 12-20 for free. One $10,400 sat was raffled, along with five $1,100 seats into the WPT Prime Championship that starts Dec. 7.
Players earned raffle tickets by winning an all-in pot against the WPT family and the pros who showed up, winning a pot with Doyle Brunson’s signature hand, ten-deuce, or winning a pot with a pocket pair deuces through sevens.
What a nice tribute for the “Godfather” of poker, who passed away in May.
The players who had the raffle ticket bounties on their backs were Owen, Neeme, Ivey, Hansen, Todd Brunson, Matt Savage, Vince Van Patten, Tony Dunst, Lynn Gilmartin, Jamie Kerstetter, WPT Global Ambassadors Ethan “Rampage” Yau and Jon “ApeStyles” Van Fleet, Ashley Sleeth, Jesse Sylvia, Angel Guillen, Caitlin Comeskey, Nikki Limo, Jaman Burton, Mariano Grandoli, Conrad Simpson, J.J. Liu, and Linda Johnson.
That’s a lot of WPT champions and current and future Poker Hall of Fame members who showed up at 9 a.m. on a Friday for the MUG, and they certainly helped fill all 28 tables an hour before the event was scheduled to officially start.
Congrats to Sunao Kitahara, who won the seat into the WPT World Championship, and also to Jim Agate, Tompr Iluz, Jeffrey Hong, Ron Ong, and Dusty Ross whose names were pulled for the WPT Prime seats.
MUG games, popularized by Owen and Neeme before they worked for the WPT, allow poker fans to mingle with players, make new friends, and simply celebrate the game of poker outside the pressure cooker of ultra-competitive poker. Even Ivey was smiling as he splashed around in the small pool and taking pictures with fans.
Hansen makes WPT return
The spirit must have gotten to Hanson, who announced he’d be at the MUG only a day before. It’s been 15 years since Hansen cashed in a WPT event, but he told WPT’s Jeff Walsh that he’s ready to “do some damage” in the WPT World Championship event.
From Walsh’s recent article:
“Charming and accessible, Hansen was quick to pose for photos with fans and sign copies of his book Every Hand Revealed. He was also more than happy to talk a little poker and take a stroll down memory lane including where poker fits into his life right now.
‘That’s a good question. I’m actually trying to figure that out myself,’ Hansen said. ‘I have a three-year-old son — just turned three a month ago — and for that reason, I’m living back in Denmark where I’m originally from. So I’m kind of figuring how much travel a year I want to do.
I know for sure that the summer in Vegas is going to be one of my stops.
My affiliation with World Poker Tour, just from being there early on and throughout 20 years or something like that. Obviously, this was a good spot to come to Vegas and join in with the World Poker Tour and hopefully do some damage in the (world) Championship Event. So I am probably looking at traveling three months a year. That’s kind of my live schedule. And then maybe play a little bit online when I’m home.”
Welcome back Gus!