Day 1 of the 2013 WPT Championship underway
It looks as if the 2013 World Poker Tour (WPT) is going to see a decent bump in attendance this year considering 113 players registered on Day 1 of the $25k buy-in tournament, an increase of 10 players from last year. With 103 players registered on Day 1 in 2012 and with registration open until Level 8 of play on Day 2, the final tally for the event last year was 152 players. So it would seem that the 2013 version of the WPT Championship will feature an even richer prize-pool than last year’s event.
While this seems like a good thing when viewed in a vacuum, zooming out and looking at the bigger picture shows a WPT Championship event that has seen better days.
Without even going back to the heyday of the WPT where attendance numbers for the $25k buy-in WPT Championship were 605, 639, and 545 entrants from 2006 through 2008, the dramatic decline of WPT tournaments (and most other major poker tours) has been marked in the past couple of years. In 2009 the WPT Championship drew 338 players: In 2010 that number dipped down to 195 (before Black Friday): In 2011 the tournament saw a slight uptick to 200 players: In 2012 attendance plummeted to 152 entrants. In five years attendance has been cut in half, and that’s after a near 50% decline in the previous few years; basically WPT attendance in 2013 is about ¼ of what it was in 2007!
Of the 113 entrants only 20 players hit the rail on Saturday, thanks to the Allen-Kessler-Approved tournament structure which features 90-minute levels and starting chip-stacks of 100,000 chips, giving each player 300 big blinds to start the tournament.
Of course the field for the tournament is a star-studded affair, and by the end of Day 1 the leader-board was littered with some of the most successful names in recent poker history, like Will Failla, Cliff “JohnnyBax” Josephy, Team PokerStars Pro Jake Cody, John “World” Hennigan, and Team Party Poker Pro Marvin Rettenmaier, all of whom finished the day in the Top 10:
1. Will Failla – 276,000
2. Jonathan Kamhazi – 273,300
3. Mike Linster – 269,000
4. Jeffrey Ishbia – 255,000
5. Cliff Josephy – 250,800
6. Jake Cody – 250,000
7. John Hennigan – 225,500
8. Arkadiy Tsinis – 222,100
9. Marvin Rettenmaier – 222,000
10. Amir Babakhani – 217,200
Of the 33 former WPT Champions that entered the tournament only 3 were eliminated on Day 1, which means a third of the field has already won a WPT tournament. Some big names that bagged-up over 200,000 chips on Day 1 include Daniel Negreanu, Guillame Darcourt, and Tom Marchese.
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