WPT Expands Season XVI Schedule, Adds May Tournament at the Bellagio
4 March 2018
PokerBrave (3368 articles)

Not content with the outstanding season that they have put forth to this point, the powers at the World Poker Tour have decided to expand the schedule once again this year. It is but another event on the calendar, but it is what used to be their traditional Las Vegas home and where some of the biggest moments in WPT history have occurred.

The WPT announced today the creation of the WPT Bellagio Elite Poker Championship, a $10,000 buy-in tournament that will be played out from May 1-6 in Sin City. This big money tournament will be joined by the $25,000 WPT High Roller tournament, which will take place from May 4-6 on the same grounds. These two events will be a powerful one-two punch as the WPT invades Vegas for a month of tournaments in the city.

The High Roller will feature another first-time event – the first time a WPT event will start in one location and finish in another. The High Roller’s opening action will be contested at the Bellagio, but the final table will be moved to a brand-new location. The final day of the tournament will take place on Sunday, May 27, at the Esports Arena Las Vegas at the Luxor Hotel and Casino, a special Esports battleground built by Allied Esports.

Adam Pliska, the Chief Executive Officer of the World Poker Tour, said during the announcement of the new events, “Home to the first-ever World Poker Tour event, the iconic Bellagio holds a truly special place in WPT history. We are proud to return to where it all began as we start a new chapter for the tour and look forward to showcasing the game’s best at both Bellagio and Allied Esports’ new Esports Arena Las Vegas in May.”

Craig Lumpp, the director of poker operations at the Bellagio, echoed those statements. “Building off the recent record-setting success of our WPT Five Diamond, we are thrilled to welcome back the World Poker Tour to Bellagio for the WPT Bellagio Elite Poker Championship,” Lumpp commented. “Complete with a $25,000 High Roller event and several other premier tournaments, we look forward to hosting the top poker players in the world at Bellagio in April and May.”

The Bellagio used to be the site for the season finale for the WPT. For years the tour would close their season with the WPT World Championship. That event for years was a $25,000 “big bang” that made the history books in 2007 when Carlos Mortensen took home the largest ever WPT prize of nearly $4 million ($3,970,415, to be exact). By 2011 (Season 11), however, the numbers had fallen off for the WPT World Championship (to 146 players) and it was moved to the Borgata in Atlantic City and the buy in reduced.

With the addition of these two new events – which will both be broadcast during the upcoming season of the WPT on Fox Sports 1 that begins on April 29 – the total events on the Season XVI schedule now totals 19 tournaments. Not in that count is the WPT Tournament of Champions that will conclude the season following the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas on May 20. The additional events at the Bellagio will bring the Season XVI total events just under the 21 events (counting the ToC) that were on the Season XV roster.

The two new events also ensure that the WPT will be the focal point of the poker world for much of the month of May. With the WPT Elite Poker Championship and the WPT $25,000 High Roller at the Bellagio and the WPT Bobby Baldwin Classic and the WPT Tournament of Champions at ARIA, the WPT will engage poker audiences until deep in the month. At that point, the World Series of Poker begins as the WPT takes a break.