WPT goes big league with stats

Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten
Mike and Vince will have plenty to talk about with the new statistics the WPT is compiling on players.

The World Poker Tour is taking another step to legitimize the game of poker as a sport. It is partnering with Stats LLC to produce a sports-style database for the game.

Stats provides data collection and analysis for 85 sports leagues and more than 55,000 events per year, for clients including Major League Baseball, the National Football League and the National Basketball Association. With the agreement, the company will deliver stats and information from every past and present World Poker Tour final table, delivering the first-ever in-depth analyses and strategic breakdowns for the poker industry.

According to a press release, Stats will compile the aggregate actions of each final-table hand in the company's proprietary databases, featuring more than 100 tournaments in WPT history, as well as all tournaments going forward.

"The Stats information will detail playing style along with situational analysis, breakdowns and trends for a more complete portrait of each World Poker Tour star," said the company in the press release.

Examples of the information that will be provided include how often a player plays a pot, how often they take a hand to showdown and the average bet size relative to the pot by the player.

"This is an incredibly exciting move for us, as it will really change the way the game is studied and played," said Ken Graiwer, WPT Interactive vice president.

Graiwer commented that the partnership will effectively bring poker information up to the level of sports analytics, giving fans and players a whole new perspective on the game.

"Before, you could watch the show to see how players play and speculate on why - now you can actually access statistical information on why they played a certain way and the success of their particular methods," Graiwer said. "Players can study each other and themselves."

Steve Lipscomb, WPT CEO, told USA Today that he sees the statistics not only as a tool for players but also as another way to validate poker as a sport. He uses the example of the aggression index that Stats has created.

"It's a mathematical formula looking at how many times you raise in certain positions with what hand," Lipscomb said in the USA Today article. "We all know poker is infinitely nuanced, but that's no different than baseball. The audience has adopted poker as a sport. But the next step is how we talk about it in sports parlance."

Stats Executive Vice President Steve Byrd also indicated his company's excitement at working with the WPT.

"Stats enjoys a proven history of providing an alternative way for both fans and media alike to view and understand sports," Byrd said. "We strongly believe [these types] of analyses will make the game more enjoyable for the growing legion of World Poker Tour fans."

WPT Stats data is already available in the WPT player database exclusively on WorldPokerTour.com. New updates will follow each tournament.

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