The World Poker Tour Championship used to be a top stop for poker players as they would come from miles around to compete in the various events. In the past events would draw hundreds of people, topping out at over 600 players. But now the tournament seems to be on its last leg as less than 200 players showed up to compete in the World Poker Tour’s season 8 World Championship which began this week.
The tour was really hot around season 5 with 600+ players competing and tens of millions up for grabs in the prize pool. In 2008 attendance dropped slightly with just over 500 players competing. But one year later attendance had dropped even more with only just over 300 competitors.
Now attendance has dropped even more as players are heading to newer tournaments to compete. The North American Poker Tour is quite popular in the US and players are lining up to compete in it as the WPT Championship takes a hit.
Daniel Negreanu commented to Poker Listings why he thinks the WPT is going downhill. He commented: “The EPT and the NAPT, and anything PokerStars does tour wise, kicks their ass. The thing that the WPT was always way too foolish to understand, what completely destroyed their model as a company, was not attaching themselves to online satellites. They need to compete and get these events popular by running online satellites. All the PokerStars tours work because of the satellites.”
Jack McClelland the Bellagio Tournament Director commented that it is not as simple as it may sound. He stated that many online sites would like to send players to the event but they cannot as the financial people of the Bellagio say they cannot take the money.
PartyPoker bought the WPT in 2009 and they wanted to add satellites for the WPT events but online poker is not always accepted in the US and McClelland says the Bellagio cannot take buy-in money from online poker rooms even if they wanted to.
The Bellagio has applied to the Nevada Gaming Commission to try and rectify the situation but they have yet to receive an answer. McClelland says they hope they will get permission to accept money from online companies but until that time they cannot accept any funds.
Hopefully the Gaming Commission will give the casino permission to accept funds from online poker rooms so the tournament will not have to eventually cancel or just die away. The World Poker Tour championship has been around for some time and used to be looked forward to by many poker players. It would be a shame to see a tournament series die away.
McClelland went on to comment that it is hard to compete with PokerStars. He has decided to have the 9th season of the World poker Tour Championship on May 21st through the 27th though it is a tentative schedule. McClelland stated he does not like have the event so close to the WSOP but he has no other choice.