Rettenmaier makes WPT history; ISPT braces for Sept. 3 press conference


wpt-rettenmaier-isptMarvin Rettenmaier made history this week by winning the inaugural event of the World Poker Tour’s eleventh season, the WPT Merit Cyprus Classic. In doing so, Rettenmaier became the WPT’s first back-to-back champ, having won the tenth season’s closing event, the WPT Championship at the Bellagio in Las Vegas this May. In addition to earning a place in the history books, Rettenmaier earned a cool $287k for outlasting a 329-strong field over four days of play. Rettenmaier eliminated all five of his final table opponents, including runner-up Artur Voskanyan, who took home $184k for being the last to ignore the sound of destiny calling. The next stop on the WPT calendar is at the Parx Casino in Philadelphia, where some 231 players came up with the $3,500 buy-in on Friday’s Day 1A. ESPN reported that Rettenmaier boarded a flight for Philly from London late Friday afternoon. Is a three-peat in the works?

Other significant poker events of recent vintage include the Italian Poker Tour San Remo, which drew 375 players over five days of play. In the end, it was Allesandro Meoni raising his arms in victory and raising his bank balance by €166k. Raffaele Bertolucci earned €129k for his runner-up finish, while Julien Norbert Dolay earned €71.5k for finishing third. Maxx Dansky won the Card Player Poker Tour Choctaw main event after four days of play at the Choctaw Casino Resort in Oklahoma. The event drew a whopping 800 entrants, creating a prize pool of $760k — $152k of which went to Dansky, while runner-up Miguel Hernandez earned $93k. Finally, better late than never, 2004 WSOP main event champ Greg Raymer won the Heartland Poker Tour Albuquerque late last month, outlasting 130 other players to earn just under $72k. Robert Crawford finished second, earning $42.5k.

We’re now less than 300 days away from the debut of the International Stadiums Poker Tour (ISPT) at London’s Wembley Stadium, scheduled to start May 31, 2013. The ISPT’s new English-language media point person Stephen McLean has been making the rounds, trying to convince people that the organizers – former Full Tilt Poker suitor Bernard Tapie, his son Laurent and former Partouche Interactive president Prosper Masquelier – weren’t really on psilocybin when they dreamed up the concept of seating 30k players in the Wembley stands to play a two-day online tournament until only 10% of them are still in the hunt, at which point they’ll ditch their computers and sit down at poker tables on the Wembley pitch to play live until there’s a winner.

Contrary to earlier suggestions that the players would play via tablet computers distributed by the organizers, McLean told PokerStrategy that players will need to bring their own laptops to Wembley, and the iPoker software that ISPT reportedly plans to employ won’t work on tablet devices. McLean insists there will be sufficient Ethernet connections and electrical outlets provided to power those laptops. Laptop stands will also be provided to ensure player comfort.

There will be 50 side events over the week-long ISPT schedule. The buy-in for the main event is €600, with one re-buy and a double add-on. However, players can skip the online portion entirely via a €6k buy-in, which will ensure the player a seat for the live portion with a stack equal to the average of the online survivors. McLean says the event’s license agreement requires that this late buy-in option be made available, but it will be limited to 1,000 players. (As this appears to be a value-added option, and the live portion field is capped at 3,000, the number of online entrants who progress to the live portion will presumably be restricted to 2,000.)

McLean’s contention that the bulk of the ISPT participants will come from the UK and Ireland would seem a stretch, given that the largest live poker events on these shores involved fields 1/15 the size of the ISPT’s 30k target – and those with much smaller buy-ins than the ISPT. Then again, if iPoker is providing the software, perhaps the empty Wembley seats will be filled with bots? (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

There’s also been some concern regarding the ISPT’s financial commitment after the original €30m prize pool was reduced to €20m, then the word ‘guarantee’ that accompanied that €20m figure was scrubbed from the ISPT website, but McLean insists the €20m guarantee is real. The significant rake the ISPT is reportedly planning – €120 of the €600 buy-in, and €2k of the €6k buy-in – has also raised eyebrows, and there’s still no indication as to the overall prize structure. The ISPT has scheduled a press conference for Sept. 3, at which it’s hoped the answers to these and other questions will be revealed.