World Poker Tour Tournament of Champions: A Brand New Look

World Poker Tour Tournament of Champions: A Brand New Look

World Poker Tour has scrapped the old Championship format and created a new Tournament of Champions format in its stead dividing opinion within the poker community.

World Poker Tour Tournament of Champions: A Brand New LookThe World Poker Tour (WPT) season-ending masterpiece is having a fresh coat of paint for the second time in recent years, only this time it’s virtually unrecognisable. The WPT World Championship is dead. Long live the WPT Tournament of Champions.

Two years ago, the WPT lowered the buy-in to $15,400, shipped out of Las Vegas and moved to the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City. The fireworks failed to light. There weren’t even any sparks. Now it gets a brand new wick.

The thing is, this tournament, as glorious as it once was, just hasn’t been cutting the mustard of late. That’s a problem when it’s the apex of your brand.

The new format effectively rules out active participation. Instead, the event will be by invitation, with an exclusive club receiving an envelope via Raven.

Season XIV Main Event winners will receive the buy-in, airfare and accommodation. The rest of the field will comprise of WPT Champions Club members.

The move has divided opinion within the poker community with most voices being of dissent.

Current WPT Champions Club member Noah Schwartz is a fan:

David Peters is not:

I’m a fan.

When the football European Cup turned into the Champions League, it invited teams that were not champions. Therefore, by definition, how can it be called the ‘Champions’ league?

It’s the same with the baseball World Series (the U.S is hardly the world) and Tournament of Champions events I have seen in other poker events such as The Aussie Millions that allow people to enter who are not champions. In my eyes, this is how it should have been in the beginning.

Speaking to WPT President and CEO, Adam Pliska, and WPT Executive Tour Director, Matt Savage, it’s clear that branding is a fundamental reason for the change. I believe another reason was the declining attendances operating in parallel with the growth of other areas of the tour making the WPT Championships look a little bit like mutton dressed as lamb.

“For the last several years, WPT has been focused on elevating the importance of Champions Club and more clearly defining brand,” Said Pliska. “This step furthers that goal. While we expect change to result in certain level of debate and conversation, this Championship is on brand for our overall strategy and gives us the opportunity to celebrate the Champions like never before. It will also ensure that the event grows steady over the years and allows us to build on its significance. We think that is good for poker and the WPT.”

The problem that Pliska and his team face is attracting enough players to ensure the new format gets off to a flying start. They are going to have to pull a rabbit out of the bag for that to happen, and it seems Top Hats and carrots are on order.

“We want to place value on being a WPT Champions Club member and this will elevate the current list and all that join them in this event.” Said Savage, “There will be value added to the WPT Tournament of Champions and our current Champions Club members past and future will be part of something special in April. Right now, it may just sound like words so I guess the WPT will have something to prove, and I believe we are up to the task.”

The new format will also have a new home.

The inaugural WPT Tournament of Champions will move to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Florida and will kick off as soon as the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown ends on April 20.

Here is the full second half of the Season XIV schedule.

The WPT also announced that Season XV of the World Poker Tour will once again start in Amsterdam. The €3,300 buy-in Main Event will be held May 9-14, 2016.