The World Poker Tour is celebrating its 20th season this year. It is an incredible milestone for any company, especially one that has weathered the ever-changing poker climate. The WPT also has new ownership, and it means the WPT has more freedom. With that, they are retiring the WPTDeepStacks brand and replacing it with WPT Prime.
It happened in 2021. Allied Esports Entertainment had owned the World Poker Tour for years but wanted to sell it to focus more fully on esports.
Just a few months into last year, a private investment firm called Element Partners submitted a proposal to acquire the World Poker Tour. The bid was $78.25M. The Allied board of directors approved it, and everything moved forward.
In early March, Bally’s Corporation sent a business proposal to purchase Allied Esports, including the WPT, for $100M. With no affirmative response after two weeks, Bally’s submitted a new proposal to take Allied out of it. The new bid was $90M for the World Poker Tour and all poker-related assets. Element Partners responded with a new bid of $90.5M. Bally’s upped its bid to $105M. Element Partners met that bid and offered $105M.
After some consideration, Allied Esports sold the World Poker to Element Partners. They completed the deal in mid-July.
Who was behind Element Partners? We still don’t know.
A New Year, a New WPT
Much of the World Poker Tour remains the same WPT that poker players have known for 20 years. However, with new ownership and the chance to celebrate Season XX in 2022, there are changes.
One of the first changes was that the WPT seasons would now run from January through December. That was new. And when the WPT released its initial stops for Season XX, the main tour stayed in the United States but the WPTDeepStacks tour went worldwide right away, starting with WPTDS Amsterdam in late March. Next up was Australia for WPTDS Sydney for nearly a dozen days at the beginning of April.
World famous DJ and music producer Steve Aoki joined the company as a WPT Ambassador. He already participated in the first promotion, which involved people submitting videos to vie for seats at a home game at Aoki’s Playhouse. Several people won, one from Germany, and flew to Las Vegas for a day of poker and entertainment.
The WPT then revamped its Player of the Year leaderboard. It combined the main tour and WPTDeepStacks onto one leaderboard. To provide a fair scoring system, it now assigns points for a wider range of tournaments. Players don’t need to play the highest buy-ins to compete.
That Player of the Year will award $30K to the top three finishers at the end of the season/year.
1st place: $15K WPT Passport for any WPT events around the world
2nd place: $10K WPT Passport
3rd place: $5K WPT Passport
WPTDS Out, WPT Prime In
The World Poker Tour bought DeepStacks in 2014 and rebranded it as WPTDeepStacks. The tour was a new mid-major buy-in option for players, many of whom couldn’t afford to play in main tour events. At that time, many of the buy-ins were $5K or $10K.
The three WPTDeepStacks tournaments already on the schedule will play out in Netherlands (Holland Casino in Amsterdam), Australia (Star Sydney in New South Wales), and the United States (Thunder Valley Casino in California). The last one will wrap up on 1 May. That will retire the WPTDS brand.
From that point forward, the mid-major global tour option will be WPT Prime.
WPT Senior Director of Global Tour Management Cathy Zhao said, “Our continued efforts to improve the WPT live tournament experience will benefit more players than ever during Season XX. WPT Prime is the embodiment of our goal to provide the best possible poker tournament experience to players everywhere, and our strong relationships with our global partners will elevate the WPT experience around the world.”
WPT Prime Starts in Asia
There are just three stops on the WPT Prime schedule in 2022. There is no word on any possibility of adding more. But the three on the schedule now are in Asia.
WPT Prime Vietnam at Crown Poker Club in Hanoi: Festival 19-30 May, Main Event 26-30 May with VND25,000,000 buy-in
WPT Prime Cambodia at Nagaworld Integrated Resort in Phnom Penh: Festival 11-23 August, Main Event 18-22 August with $1,100 buy-in
WPT Prime Taiwan at Chinese Texas Hold’em Poker Association in Taipei: Festival 11-21 November, Main Event 17-21 November with TWD30,000 buy-in
All three tournaments will allow players to accrue points toward the 2022 Player of the Year race. In addition, each stop will have a Player of the Festival leaderboard. Players will score points throughout each series. The winner will earn a trophy and additional prizes to be announced soon.
WPT VP of Global Tour Management Angelica Hael said that the new Prime tour fits in with a celebratory Season XX and the post-pandemic comeback. “We are absolutely delighted to be back in Vietnam, Cambodia and Taiwan,” she said. “Now that international borders are opening up, the incredible hospitality of (the three casinos listed above) will once again be on display for regional and global players.”
Rose Varrelli has always been passionate about online casinos, as she’s been a player at a variety of places for years. Rose turned her personal knowledge and insight into a writing career. She aims to provide readers with the most up to date, informative news in the world of online casinos!