World Poker Tour History

[SS] “Have you guys seen the Burt Reynolds movie Deal?” Stan the Stat wondered.

[RR] “You mean The Color of Money remade with Texas Hold ‘Em poker instead of 9-Ball pool?” Roderick the Rock offered.

[SS] “Indeed.”

[RR] “Technically, it was a Bret Harrison movie, since he was the leading actor. But it was about poker, so I watched it. Regrettably. Sorry, Leroy, not enough poker for you. Not enough of everything else for me. I think Reynolds even earned a Razzie nomination for Worst Supporting Actor.”

[SS] “The Razzie is for collective work, so it was also for In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale.”

[LL] “Who saved him from getting the Razzie?”1 Leroy the Lion chimed in.

[SS] “I can’t argue with the winner, since I don’t know why in the world Pierce Brosnan was ever cast in Mamma Mia!. It was a musical, and he can’t sing worth a lick.”

[LL] “So, are you about to show us your list of poker movies?”

[SS] “Nope, although I have one of course. I mentioned Deal because it features a fictitious World Poker Tour World Championship.”

[RR] “And the real one is now underway.”

[SS] “Like the NBA and the NHL, the season spans the new year. The WPT schedule works around the natural break for the World Series of Poker.”

[RR] “So the season-ending WPT championship is now, before the World Series of Poker begins in May.”

[SS] “Yep, and it’s an intriguing one. The event was moved from Las Vegas’s Bellagio to Atlantic City’s Borgata, and the buyin was lowered for the first time from $25,000 to $15,000.”

[RR] “I understand lowering the buyin to attract more players, but moving out of Vegas was a big gamble.”

[LL] “How many years has the WPT been around now?”

[SS] “The very first WPT event was the Five Diamond World Poker Classic at Bellagio in Paradise, Nevada that started on May 27, 2002,2 just three days after Robert Varkonyi took down that year’s WSOP Main Event. Like the NFL, the WPT likes to use Roman numerals, so this is Season XII.”

[SS] “The WSOP Main Event had just grown a tiny bit, to 631 players, but WPT founder Steve Lipscomb correctly anticipated the continued growth of poker when he recruited Mike Sexton and Linda Johnson to create a tour that he felt could be the NFL/NBA/PGA of poker.3 And by the fourth season, the WPT World Championship had grown to a field of 605, nearly matching the 2001 and 2002 WSOP Main Events, which is even more impressive given that the buyin was $25,000, not $10,000.”


  1. Burt Reynolds has garnered four Razzie Worst Supporting Actor nominations but has never won. But he also has three Worst Leading Actor nominations and won in 1994 for Cop and a Half.
  2. The Travel Channel aired its first World Poker Tour episode on March 30, 2003.
  3. Shuffle Up and Deal, page xiii.

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