Not to be confused with the historic World Series of Poker held at the newly rebranded Horseshoe Casino, the World Poker Tour (“WPT”) includes some of the best poker tournaments on earth. Each year, a number of events are held at casinos, gaming venues, and online platforms around the world. The WPT awards millions of dollars in prizes, and attracts the best professional players, as well as hot up-and-coming amateurs making a name for themselves.

In this article, we’ll talk about how the WPT works, a bit of history, some unforgettable moments, and what’s coming up ahead. By the end, you’ll finally know the difference between the WSOP and WPT.

What is the World Poker Tour?

In the World Poker Tour, players can participate in events around the world. For example, this year, WPT Choctaw was held in Durant, OK in May. The overall winner, Jared Jaffee, won over $400K as top prize. Before the year is done, WPT will have made stops everywhere from Liechtenstein to Australia to Vietnam to the US. Buy ins as high as $8,000 will allow players to mix it up with the best of the best.

There are top tier “main tour” events, but also various sub-brands like WPT Prime, WPT500, and OneDrop that offer additional games.

Winners of main tour WPT events are awarded membership into the WPT Champions Club. Players also accumulate points over the course of each year’s “season” for their final table finishes. The player with the most points at the end of the year is crowned WPT Player of the Year. Last year, it was Jake Ferro, but past winners include Daniel Negreanu, J.C. Tran, and Anthony Zinno.

World Poker Tour History

World Poker Tour was first conceived in 2002 by founder Steven Lipscomb, a TV producer and attorney. The brand has changed hands many times since then, but has generally followed an upward trajectory. It has expanded globally, adding events and bigger and better prizes as it has grown over time.

Winners of events include “first wave” poker legends like Howard Lederer, Daniel Negreanu, and Erick Lindgren, seasoned international stars like J.C. Tran, Bertrand Grospelier, and Matthew Salsberg, and fresher faces like Brian Altman, Jake Ferro, and Chad Eveslage.

In 2022, the WPT added a championship event. The prize pool reached nearly $30M! The winner was Elliot Hudon, who took home $4.1M for his win.

2023’s Championship Festival will kick off in November, and will feature a Main Event with a buy in of $10,400 that is sure to attract thousands of hungry competitors.

Impact of the World Poker Tour

The impact of the WPT can’t be understated. It is part of what is popularly referred to as poker’s “triple crown.” This distinction is earned by players winning a WSOP bracelet, WPT main event, and European Poker Tour main event across their career. So far, only nine players have done this. The inclusion of the WPT in the triple crown marks it as a premier poker event and one of the gaming world’s most important competitions.

When the poker boom saw the game grow in the early 2000s, the WPT was a key part of driving awareness and excitement for card playing. While the WSOP is regarded as the game’s “championship,” the WPT got the game front and center on television, allowing fans and players to see poker played year-round in a variety of venues and with a variety of participants. This helped build up the fandom, helped high rolling players become household names, increased visibility of casinos and venues, and raised the status of card players in general.

What once was a niche hobby dominated by a few cagey career gamblers quickly became a favored pastime of players across America and around the world.

Memorable Moments in the World Poker Tour

The Dane traps Juanda

In the very first season of the WPT, famously unpredictable Danish player Gus Hansen took on John Juanda at the Five Diamond Poker Classic. Hansen was always pushing hard, sometimes with total rags, and had developed a reputation for “crazy” play. Hansen was dealt pocket kings and raised preflop against Juanda’s AJo. Juanda re-raised, and Hansen snapped all in! Juanda considered for a while, and then made what he may have thought was a hero call. Nope. Hansen had used his wild reputation perfectly, getting an opponent to think a couple of face cards were good enough to take down an obvious bluff attempt. Whoops!

Counts matter

In Season 14, Bill Jennings showed Jake Schwartz why approximations aren’t good enough when it’s your tournament life on the line. Jennings raised it up preflop with AK, and Schwartz, holding AJ, asked him how much he started the hand with. Jennings reported, “about 2.5 [million].” Schwarz snapped all in, and Jennings called it. At the end of the hand, Schwartz realized it was actually a lot more: 3.15M! Many players around the world learned at that moment that an official count is needed if you’re going to bet your life.

Negreanu smells a bluff

Daniel Negreanu knows what you have. It doesn’t matter who you are – he’s probably got a bead on what you’re holding. In Season Five of the WPT, Daniel Negreanu was holding AK over a board with two queens and three hearts. He faced an all in bet from Ed Jordan. He toyed with the idea of folding to a possible set of queens, and then decided that, for the money, he could afford the call. He had Jordan dominated as a 92% favorite, and took down a monster pot in the end, knocking out the brave player.

Future of the World Poker Tour – Events in 2023 and 2024

Much like what the top poker events 2023 have to offer, the top poker events 2024 have to offer, including many from the WPT. The 2023 Championship will be in Vegas at the Wynn around the holidays. Here’s a few other notable main tour events coming up:

  • WPT bestbet Scramble (November 10th, 2023) – a $5,000 buy in event in Florida.
  • WPT Seminole Rock N’ Roll Poker Open (November 24th, 2023) – a $3,500 buy in event in Hollywood, Florida.

This is in addition to tons of events happening outside the main tour, in Madrid, France, Taiwan, and other exotic locales.

Not crazy and exciting enough for you? The 2024 WPT will include a main tour event held at sea on a Virgin cruise lines ship! A million in guaranteed prize money is sure to bring aboard even players who don’t like boats.