The World Poker Tour (WPT) is a series of international poker tournaments and the associated internationally-syndicated TV show which broadcasts the final table of each tournament. It was started in the United States by television producer Steven Lipscomb, who served as CEO of WPT Enterprises (WPTE), the company that controlled the World Poker Tour until November 2009, when PartyGaming acquired the World Poker Tour from WPTE for $12,300,000. The tournaments feature many of the world's professional players as well as up-and-coming amateur players.
The WPT started in 2002 and was broadcasted on the Travel Channel for its first five seasons. In 2008, the series moved to GSN for its sixth season and remained one the most highest-rated shows on cable. In July 2008, it was announced that the series would move to Fox Sports Net for its seventh season. The first 3 seasons of the WPT are available on DVD
The broadcasting of the show helped ignite the explosion in the popularity of poker due to a few reasons. One reason was that the show popularized the technique of letting home viewers see the players' hole cards with tiny cameras. Previous to this innovation, televised poker (mostly older World Series of Poker events) only allowed viewers to see the community cards. It goes without saying that these games were less exciting to watch.
The popularity of the WPT was also enhanced by the likability of the show's hosts. Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten commentated on the game while Shana Hiatt interviewed the players. Shana Hiatt stayed on for the first three seasons. The hosts to come after her were: Courtney Friel (season 4), Sabina Gadecki (season 5), Layla Kayleigh and Kimberly Lansing (season 6), poker player and reporter Amanda Leatherman (season 7), Kimberly Lansing (season 9).
The show's hosts, Sexton and Van Patten, sit in a booth near the playing table, mainly providing commentary and sometimes interacting with the players during the game. Their commentary about the specific hole cards is recorded later on while watching tape pf the play because gaming regulations prohibit them from watching a live feed of the hole card cameras while near the table.
The WPT, despite the fact that they still play for million-dollar prizes, tends to be a more fun tournament to watch than the WSOP, while the WSOP tends to be a more serious tournament. This is mainly due to the production and style choices of the WPT shows. The WPT was partially created as a vehicle to showcase professional players vs. amateurs. In the early years of the WPT, they set up their tournaments so that they would have an amateur winner play against the winner of their professional tournaments. A well-known match from the early days was when amateur Finish player Juha Hellpi eliminated amateur (at the time) player Kathy Liebert on his way to defeating professional player Phil Gordon in a heads-up match. The WPT's focus on professional players (at least in the early days), allowed the WPT shows to focus at least some of their time on the personalities of the players in addition to the actual games. In recent years, the WSOP has altered their production style to develop more "off-the-felt" content like interviews and player profiles. Both the WPT and the WSOP are high-quality (and fun) shows to watch in their different ways.
In July 2006, seven professional poker players sued WPTE, accusing them of violations of the Sherman Antitrust Act, the California Cartwright Act, and intentional interference with contract. The players (Chris Ferguson, Andy Bloch, Annie Duke, Joe Hachem, Phil Gordon, Howard Lederer, and Greg Raymer) alleged that WPTE's release forms, which players are required to sign in order to participate in WPT events, were anti-competitive because they were designed to interfere with the players' obligations to other companies.
The anti-competitive claim was based on the fact that WPTE's contracts with the casinos that host its tournaments prohibit those casinos from hosting non-WPTE poker events. The claim of interference with contract is based on the releases' claim to perpetual rights to the players' likenesses for any use WPTE wishes. The players claim that this would put them in violation of their other contracts (such as with online poker sites). Hachem and Raymer dropped out of the lawsuit before its eventual settlement. In April 2008, WPT Enterprises, Inc. settled with the five remaining players.
In 2008, the WPT launched a new product called ClubWPT, a subscription-based club where members pay a monthly fee to play in tournaments that award over $100,000 in prizes every month.
A series of spin-off tournaments, titled the "Professional Poker Tour", began filming in 2004. Regular broadcast of the series was delayed until 2006, partly due to a dispute with the Travel Channel over rights. The PPT series was suspended after season one because WPTE couldn't find a television home for a second season.
In 2008, the WPT announced a set of tournaments for solely for women, known as "WPT Ladies". During the first season they held five events, with buy-ins ranging from $300 to $1,500. Nancy Todd finished first in the Ladies Championship with Vanessa Selbst finishing second. There were no other WPT Ladies events after that.
The World Poker Tour Walk of Fame was created to honor the top poker players, as well as people from different areas (such as film, television and literature) who have contributed to the evolution and popularity of poker. The original inductees were Doyle Brunson, Gus Hansen and James Garner (who played skilled poker-player Brett Maverick on TV from 1957-60). They were inducted at the Commerce Casino in a ceremony before top pros and celebrities in town for the L.A. Poker Classic tournament. In February 2004, the Walk of Fame inducted its second members. No new players have been inducted since 2004.
EricBurkholz01 on March 1, 2019
HPG ADMIN on March 5, 2013