WPT Returning to California for Massive Legends of Poker Main Event

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For the first time since February 2020, the World Poker Tour will be back in the state of California when it returns for the Legends of Poker main event at the Bicycle Casino in late August. 

The bike
The WPT will return to the Bicycle Casino for the $2.5 Million Guaranteed Legends of Poker Main Event (Image: Facebook/The Bicycle Casino)

The Bike has been a regular stop on the World Poker Tour for nearly 20 years and has been home to some of the WPT’s most iconic moments over that time.

The Bike’s rich history with the WPT

The Bike was one of the founding members of the WPT, hosting the tour’s second event in August 2002. Chris Karagulleyan won that event, besting a field of 134 players to earn $258,000.

“The Legends of Poker event holds a very special place in the history of the World Poker Tour,” said WPT CEO Adam Pliska. “Collaborating with the Bike on another event is a fitting continuation of our 20th-anniversary celebration.”

One of the most famous events in WPT History took place at the Bike in 2004, when all-time poker great Doyle Brunson took down the title, earning a career-best $1,198,260. It was the third-biggest prize ever handed out at the Bike, bested only by Joe Pelton in 2006 ($1,600,000), and Dan Harrington in 2007 ($1,635,000).

The Legends of Poker main event didn’t run in 2018, replaced instead with a tournament stop on the WPT500 series. Michael Copeland took down that event for more than $181K.

Year Winner Buy-in Prize pool 1st Place
2019 Aaron Van Blarcum $5,000 $2,392,000 $474,390
2017 Art Papazyan $4,000 $2,738,407 $668,692
2016 Pat Lyons $4,000 $2,465,643 $615,346
2015 Mike Shariati $3,700 $2,630,349 $675,942
2014 Harry Arutyunyan $3,700 $2,157,594 $576,369
2013 Jordan Cristos $3,700 $2,430,820 $613,355
2012 Josh Hale $3,700 $2,111,690 $500,000
2011 Will Failla $3,700 $2,570,015 $758,085
2010 Andy Frankenberger $5,000 $2,151,072 $750,000
2009 Prahlad Friedman $10,000 $2,650,500 $1,034,000
2008 John Phan $10,000 $3,520,738 $1,091,428
2007 Dan Harrington $10,000 $4,607,500 $1,635,365
2006 Joe Pelton $10,000 $4,520,200 $1,602,670
2005 Alex Kahaner $5,150 $4,195,000 $1,150,900
2004 Doyle Brunson $5,150 $3,335,000 $1,198,260
2003 Mel Judah $5,080 $1,545,000 $579,375
2002 Chris Karagulleyan $5,080 $670,000 $258,000

Legends series’ large guarantees should bring large fields

The Legends of Poker main event will run from Aug. 27 – Sept. 1 and will feature a $2.5 million guarantee — the biggest number ever guaranteed for this event. Bicycle Casino Tournament Director Mo Fathipour is optimistic the Bike will easily surpass that number.

“[The] WPT told me they are going to have [a] $5,250 buy-in everywhere unless they already have a contract with a set number, but that is their goal. Five-hundred players is nothing for the Bike. We think we should get 700-800 easily with three starting sessions now.” 

The Main Event wraps up a full week of WPT-sponsored events in LA. Dubbed WPT Week, each of the week’s six WPT events will award points on the WPT Player of the Festival leaderboard. The winner of that contest will receive an $1,100 WPT Prime Passport entry.

“This gives players more incentive to fly out for multiple events, not just the Main Event,” said Faithipour. “It gives players more chances to win and increases our Main Event entries. It’s a win-win.”

Other highlights on the Legends of Poker Schedule include the return of the Mega Millions, which features a $1.5 million guarantee, up from $1 million. Larry Quang won the most recent Mega Millions, earning more than $300K“Players love the Mega Millions. Every time we play it, we get around $2 million. So now we are increasing the guarantee to hopefully get more players to come out on Day 1s and Day 2. I’m hoping to make it a $2 million guarantee in the future.”

Also on the Bike’s schedule is a multiday Mystery Bounty event, with a top bounty of $50K.

The Legends of Poker series starts Monday, July 25 with a $200K guarantee opening event. 

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