The World Poker Tour, one of the most well-known brands in poker, is currently in the midst of running its first-ever online poker tournament series.
With more than $35 million in guaranteed prize money, the WPT Online Series, hosted by partypoker, features 65 tournaments including the first WPT Online Championship which guarantees to pay out $5 million.
And though live poker events moving to the internet in the wake of the global coronavirus pandemic has become the new normal, the shift for the WPT was planned well in advance of the current health crisis.
The WPT Online Series was officially announced on March 13, just as much of the world was just starting to be ordered to stay at home as a way of limiting the spread of COVID-19.
At the time, the World Series of Poker (along with the WPT, known primarily as a land-based poker operator) was continuing to build on its success in supplementing its live poker offering with online bracelet events.
Seeing the WPT also expanding online caught our attention and prompted pokerfuse to reach out to the WPT to find out more about the motivation behind the move. We were lucky enough to have WPT CEO Adam Pliska respond to our questions. The interview took place via email between March 16 and 20.
The World Poker Tour has been holding international poker tournaments since 2002, and it recently announced the WPT Online Series, its first-ever online tournament series. Why now, and what do you hope to accomplish by expanding into the online sphere?
The WPT is always looking for ways to be creative and enhance the poker experience for our players around the world. We have been working on this event for some time, and given the current situation and the limited options for players right now, we think this is the perfect time to launch. The WPT Online Series gives players the chance to compete in an official WPT event from the comfort of their own homes at all buy-in levels.
What will the successful execution of the first WPT Online Series mean for the future of WPT online events? Will we see future live stops on the WPT incorporate online events?
Online poker is an important spoke of the poker wheel. We are hopeful that the WPT Online Series will prove enjoyable for our players, and it’s certainly something we would consider expanding down the road.
What difference (if any) in prestige exists between the WPT live and online events?
Through the support of partypoker, we expect this event to be very competitive and attract some of the biggest names in poker, including partypoker’s team of ambassadors. With a $5 million guarantee, we will be crowning yet another poker-made millionaire. So no, there is no distinction in prestige; the only difference is where the player is sitting.
Online poker operators have traditionally run online satellites to their live events. Did WPT plan to offer any live satellites to its online events?
As we are always looking for ways to facilitate players’ ability to participate in larger events, it’s definitely an opportunity we can look at down the road.
WPT is known for its excellence in video production. Are there any plans to incorporate any of the online action/highlights into any of the WPT programming?
Yes, we are very proud of our production quality, and we are exploring with partypoker ways to bring this great event to our fans around the globe.