In-full live major poker tournaments will return to the U.S. with a World Poker Tour event in January.
In a Monday presser, host venue Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood announced they’d be joining forces with the WPT once again for the Lucky Hearts Poker Open. The event will fill its traditional January slot and culminate with the $3,500 WPT Main Event with a $1 million guarantee.
Furthermore, the WPT announced on Wednesday its first U.S.-based online Main Tour event, the $3,500 WPT Online Poker Open Main Event, set for a late December running in New Jersey. That one will also carry a guarantee of $1 million.
Live WPT Events Return
Jan. 22 will mark the return of the WPT to U.S. soil.
The Lucky Hearts Poker Open Main Event will kick off that Friday with the first of two starting flights for the $3,500 reentry event. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday will see the tournament play down to a champion, who will get their name etched onto the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup and earn a place in the WPT Tournament of Champions.
The WPT Main Event will be part of an overall festival running Jan. 14-26. It will include an opening $600 multi-flight event with $300,000 guaranteed, a good mix of non-NLHE events around the $400 price point, and four other tournaments with six-figure guarantees.
The full schedule can be found here.
A WPT card hasn’t been pitched in the U.S.since mid-March with the conclusion of WPT Rolling Thunder. Instead, the top brand has opted to go with the industry norm under the cloud of COVID-19, hosting a variety of huge online events, most notably the WPT World Online Championship.
Seminole Hard Rock properties reintroduced poker tournaments several months back, so they’ve started to ramp up the action in Florida, but nothing has been in the ballpark of the WPT LHPO’s scale with its more than $2 million in total guarantees.
The WPT LHPO was last on the schedule in January 2018, when it guaranteed $2 million and created a prize pool a little over $2.9 million, drawing 911 entries.
COVID Safety Protocols
Of course, the reason the WPT and so many other poker tours have been on ice for the last eight-plus months is the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Key word being ongoing, as the situation in the U.S. and many other countries has, if anything, worsened in recent months.
Florida has been known to be one of the harder-hit states overall, and the past week at the time of writing has seen an average of 6,602 new cases per day, according to official numbers released by the state.
Knowing this, Seminole Hard Rock has instituted special “Safe + Sound” protocols in an effort to make the playing environment as safe as possible.
- Eight-handed tables with plexiglass shielding players and dealers
- Temperature checks upon entry
- Mandatory mask usage
- Routine cleaning of chips, cards and newly-emptied seats
- Wide availability of hand sanitizer for players and employees
- 50% max capacity on property
- State-of-the-art air filtration system designed to destroy viruses
New Jersey to Host Additional $1M Guaranteed
Those looking to get their names on the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup need not wait until January, though. In fact, they don’t even need to leave their own homes or play live poker at all, provided those homes are located in New Jersey.
The ambitious $1 million guarantee signifies how serious the WPT and partypoker are about making this a premier poker tournament worthy of the WPT name.
“The WPT Online Poker Open brings the most prestigious prize in poker to New Jersey and the partypoker US Network,” said WPT CEO Adam Pliska in a presser. “WPT’s continued pivot toward online will continue with another landmark for regulated online poker in the United States.”
Indeed, the WPT has pivoted into a strong series of online offerings, however all were offered to the dot-com partypoker player pool, a much larger bunch of customers than the prospective New Jersey pool. Drawing the necessary entries to meet the guarantee will require some effort, and the WPT already announced satellites will be available for as little as $5.
Speaking of the dot-cam pool, they’ll also get a January shot at WPT glory. WPT Montreal, traditionally occupying a November slot on the schedule, will take place on the main partypoker client. It begins with starting flights on Jan. 10 and Jan. 17, two Sundays that will play down to a short enough percent of the field that the tournament finishes Jan. 18.
That one will have a $3,200 buy-in and a $2 million guarantee. Click here for full details.
The only other WPT Main Tour events currently scheduled at WPT Russia in Sochi for mid-February and the second edition of WPT Online Series, scheduled for May.