The World Poker Tour (WPT) broke its own record this week when the World Championship event began on April 18 with a field of 605 players and a prize pool of $15,125,000. First place winner will be awarded a record $3.7 million, while places 2-4 will receive payouts exceeding $1 million.
The $25,500 buy-in tournament at Las Vegas' Bellagio Hotel & Casino has attracted players from nearly 40 countries. The incentive for players is two-fold: to win the coveted WPT World Champion title and to go home with a portion of the record prize money, which will be split between spots 1-100.
"The WPT World Championship is considered the toughest tournament in the world to win if you consider the caliber of the competitors," says Steve Lipscomb, founder and CEO of WPT Enterprises, Inc. "At a cost of $25,500 to get to the table, you have to be a very accomplished poker player. You've either built a very solid bankroll or you've outlasted thousands in satellite tournaments. No doubt this final table will be a cliffhanger."
The WPT World Championship crowns the WPT's fourth season, bringing the total prize money for the 17 tournaments to $85,120,000. The tournaments currently airing on the Travel Channel every Wednesday night at 9 p.m. have revealed the 20 newest WPT Poker Millionaires.
Pro players who took to the WPT World Championship tables include defending champions Freddy Deeb, Michael Gracz, John D'Agostino, Hasan Habib, Scott Fischman, Martin de Knijff, Gus Hansen, David Benyamine, Juha Helppi, Chris Bigler, Humberto Brenes, Carlos Mortensen, Johan Storakers, Marcel Luske, Dave Ulliott, John Gale, and Patrik Antonius, among others.
Final table play will begin Monday, April 24, at 4 pm. The field of hopefuls will have been whittled down to six and from those six one will take home the $3,760,165 first prize. Second place will pay $1,903,950 and third place will pay $1,025,205.