WPT – Guide to the World Poker Tour

Discover the story behind the globetrotting poker tournament series.

The World Poker Tour is a series of live poker events held around the world since 2002, and often televised. It attracts many of the world’s best poker players, competing for large prize pools in destinations such as Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Australia, Amsterdam and Canada.

Many will be most familiar with the WPT thanks to its successful TV shows; a deal with the Travel Channel saw edited coverage of the first five seasons of WPT events screened across the USA, and further broadcast deals would follow.

Eventually more than 150 countries and territories across the world would show WPT events, making household names of World Poker Tour hosts including Mike Sexton, Tony Dunst, Vince Van Patten and Lynn Gilmartin.

TV fame may be an attractive proposition for some poker players, but the promise of big cash prizes is a common factor for anyone who sits down in a WPT event! And, true to their name, WPT poker tournaments are routinely held right across the globe, with more opportunities available online.

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Who are the World Poker Tour Hosts?

Many people’s first experience of the WPT is on TV, with broadcasts hosted by some of the most recognizable faces in the poker world.

  • Vince Van Patten is a presenter, actor, director, author, poker player and former tennis pro.
  • Tony Dunst is a formidable poker pro who has won major titles at the WSOP, WPT and online.
  • Lynn Gilmartin is an Irish-born Australian presenter and reporter who has spent more than 10 years travelling the pro poker circuit, even taking down an EPT event in 2015.
  • Matt Savage is probably the best known poker tournament director in the world, and co-founder of the Tournament Directors Association.
  • Phil Hellmuth is one of the world’s greatest poker players, with more WSOP bracelets than anyone in history.
Phil Hellmuth poses for a photo shoot alongside various hosts, commentators and colleagues of the WPT.
Phil Hellmuth, back-center, with his co-hosts and colleagues of the WPT. Source: World Poker Tour.

Notable WPT Winners

With the WPT free poker lessons are always available thanks to their extensive backlog of televised tournaments; it’s possible to watch some of the game’s biggest names take down tournaments all over the world. There is no shortage of famous faces who have triumphed at the WPT poker tables and become WPT Champions – sometimes multiple times over.

Gus Hansen

The man known as ‘The Great Dane’ not only won the very first WPT event back in 2002, but went on to win a further event later in season 1, and yet another in season 2 for almost $1.5m in combined prize money.

Darren Elias

The East Coast pro has won a record four WPT titles, including two back-to-back in 2014 (season 13). Elias also has two World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) titles to his name, proving he is as dangerous online as he is at the live tables.

Ole Schemion

One of the German young guns who hit the poker scene hard in the 2010’s, Schemion defeated WPT player/host Tony Dunst heads up to win the WPT Tournament of Champions in the final event of season 17 (2019). Also successful in online poker, Schemion once won two flagship Sunday tournaments at PokerStars on the same night.

Brian Altman

The WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open was certainly lucky for Massachusetts’ Altman, who won the event in 2015 and again in 2020 – the first time such a feat had been achieved. Proving he has more than luck on his side, Altman went on to win a third WPT title at the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa in 2021.

Anthony Zinno

This poker pro from Rhode Island has three WPT titles on his resumé, as well as four WSOP bracelets. Like Elias, above, Zinno managed to win back-to-back events in season 13 (2015), defeating two fields of over 400 players within a couple of weeks.

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History of the World Poker Tour

  1. In 2002 television executive Steven Lipscomb launched the World Poker Tour, a series of tournaments televised, initially, on the Travel Channel. The success of the broadcasts was aided by two significant technological advances: faster and more reliable internet had made online poker a reality for much of the world (including, at the time, the entire USA), while the recent invention of hole-card cameras enabled viewers to see players’ cards during a hand. This innovation helped the audience follow and understand the decisions being made by players on screen.

  2. With a growing WPT schedule of tournaments taking place in destinations ranging from Paris to the Caribbean and both US coasts, 2007 saw former WSOP World Champion Carlos Mortensen win the biggest WPT prize to date: close to $4M for winning the Five Star World Poker Classic in Las Vegas.

  3. 2009 saw the World Poker Tour valued at $12.3M, as the group was acquired by the online gaming company behind PartyPoker, PartyGaming. Two years later, in 2011, PartyGaming merged with bwin to form an even larger gaming giant.

  4. In 2013 the WPT launched the Alpha8 Tour, aimed at Super High Rollers and with buy-ins around the $100K mark. Steven Silverman of Washington DC won the first, in Florida, beating JC Tran heads-up and taking home over $891K.

  5. In 2014 a partnership was struck between the WPT and Ourgame International Holdings, with the latter licensing WPT products across Asia including in China, Hong Kong, Korea, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. A year later, in 2015, Ourgame acquired WPT in its entirety for $35M.

  6. April 2014 saw a record-breaking 2,482 players register for – once again – the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in Florida, USA!

  7. In 2021 the value of the World Poker Tour rocketed once more, as Element Partners bought the WPT for $105M, triple the price it sold for in 2014.

  8. Another record was set, as the 2022 WPT World Championship guaranteed a $15M prize pool – the largest live poker tournament guarantee in history.

World Poker Tour FAQ

What different tours are run by the WPT?

The WPT schedule includes various live poker tours that cater to different players, from low buy-in events to super high rollers, across the USA and the rest of the world. Alongside the main WPT these include: WPT Prime, WPT DeepStacks, WPT Alpha8, WPT500, WPT National, WPT Regional and special events. WPT Global is the home of WPT online poker.

Is WPT legal in the US?

When it comes to live poker WPT is one of the biggest names in the USA, regularly operating fully legal tournaments in many states including California, Florida and Oklahoma. In terms of online poker, WPT games are available in the US courtesy of ClubWPT, which is a legal, subscription-based platform. WPT Global is a real money online poker operator which is not currently available in the US.

What is the difference between ClubWPT and WPT Global?

WPT poker online is available at two different sites. ClubWPT is a sweepstakes-based subscription site where subscribers can play for cash and prizes including seats in WPT live poker events. WPT Global is an online poker platform where players can take part in cash games, tournaments and everything the best online poker sites can offer. Availability of these sites may depend on where you are based.

Can you win money at ClubWPT?

Paying subscribers have the chance to win a share of over $100K each month in cash and prizes and to qualify for WPT live events. Different payment tiers offer various other benefits including discounted ticket prices for events and concerts, as well as access to episodes of the WPT TV show and a dedicated poker training package.

Is WPT Global available where I live?

That depends on where you live! WPT Global is available in many countries, including Canada, Brazil, Argentina and many more around the world. A full list of jurisdictions where WPT Global is not available can be found here.

What is the difference between the WSOP and the WPT?

The WSOP, or World Series of Poker, is a series of live and online poker tournaments that takes place once a year, during the summer in Las Vegas (and on occasion in Europe). The WPT, or World Poker Tour, is a year-round series of poker tournaments held across the world, in various countries and at various buy-in levels. Since they were first introduced, WPT events have been produced for television.

How old do you have to be to play WPT?

You must be over 18 years, or over the legal gambling age in your country – whichever is higher.

How much do WPT players make?

This depends on where each player finishes and in which tournament they play, but winners can expect at least six figures. Eliot Hudon won the 2022 WPT World Championship and took home $4,146,400.

Who won WPT 2023?

In 2023, the winners of some of the WPT tournaments were as follows:

  • WPT Rolling Thunder: Scott Eskenazi
  • WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown: Bin Weng
  • WPT Choctaw: Jared Jaffee
  • WPT Gardens Poker Championship: Ky Nguyen
  • Wynn Summer Classic: Bin Weng

What happened to WPT Poker?

The WPT was sold to Element Partners for $105 million in 2021.

How much does it cost to enter WPT?

The buy-in range for the WPT Main Tour is between $3,500–$25,000.


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