This week, the World Poker Tour announced that it plans to deliver a holiday gift to New Jersey poker players. Coming Dec. 27-29, the partypoker US network will host its first-ever WPT Main Tour online event.
Called the WPT Online Poker Open, the $3,500 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournament will feature a $1 million guaranteed prize pool. The World Poker Tour will live stream the final table on Dec. 29.
In addition to earning the first prize, the winner of the event will join the WPT Champions Club and receive free entry into the $15,000 WPT Tournament of Champions. The winner’s name will be added to the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup, joining the names of other winners dating back to the WPT’s start in 2002.
New Jersey event part of WPT’s continued pivot online
In March 2020, the coronavirus pandemic and resulting shutdown of live poker forced the WPT to alter its live schedule. Live events were all postponed, and the tour found ways to continue online via partypoker‘s global site.
An initial WPT Online Series ran on partypoker in May. The series culminated with a $3,200 Main Event won by Christian Jeppsson. The Swedish player topped a 2,130-entry field to win nearly $924K.
The WPT World Online Championships followed, also playing out on partypoker’s global site from July through September. That one ended with a much larger $10,300 Main Event that drew 1,011 entries to create a prize pool of just over $10 million. Winner Phillip Mighall of the UK took away just over $1.55 million.
The late December tournament will be the first WPT event on the partypoker US network. Presently, the network consists of three skins, all restricted to players physically located within New Jersey:
Satellites to the Main Event will run on all three skins, with buy-ins as low as $5.
In the announcement, WPT CEO Adam Pliska characterized the event as part of “WPT’s continued pivot toward online.”
Meanwhile, Angelica Hael, vice president of Global Tour Management, referred to the continued collaboration between partypoker and the WPT, suggesting that “this $1 million guarantee will push our partnership to new heights.”
WPT joins other tours exploring online options
The WPT’s announcement comes less than a week after the World Series of Poker announced plans to conduct a hybrid online-live 2020 WSOP Main Event starting in late November and culminating Dec. 30.
That event will be played in part on the WSOP New Jersey site as well as on WSOP Nevada and the global GGPoker site before concluding with live action in both the Czech Republic and Las Vegas.
The WSOP already ran an 85-event online series on WSOP NJ, WSOP NV and GGPoker from July to September.
Both the unusual circumstances presented by the pandemic and legal developments for online poker in the United States are encouraging the WPT’s plans in America going forward.
At present, partypoker US hopes to expand its network to other states, including Pennsylvania and Michigan. However, no new sites will launch in those states until 2021.
Once they do, the forging of a multistate agreement could enable partypoker US and the WPT to expand online player pools considerably for events such as the WPT Online Poker Open.