The World Poker Tour plus Richard Branson: “This one’s going to be special”

Terrance Reid
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Posted on: June 29, 2023 6:35 pm EDT

The World Poker Tour never fails to delight and surprise. Exciting venues, excellence in player experience, and fun partnerships; they always have something in the works.

Still, a partnership with entrepreneur and business mogul Richard Branson and Virgin Voyages is one few could have predicted. WPT CEO and President Adam Pliska shared with us how it happened, and why he’s so excited about what the partnership will bring.

Meeting Branson in Necker

The initial meeting started on the beautiful island of Necker for the Necker Cup, a pro-am tennis event that’s taken place since 2012.

Necker Island
Necker Island – Photo Credit Virgin Limited Edition

“I don’t know if you know this, but Vince Van Patten was one of the top-rated tennis pros at one point,” Pliska said of the WPT broadcaster and actor. “So we were in Necker, and that’s the first time Branson and I met. He is somebody that I’ve always looked up to. The world that he’s created around himself is beautiful. And honestly, this was the most beautiful island I’ve ever been to.”

Vince Van Patten
Vince Van Patten – Photo Credit WPT

That first trip to Necker was only the first time the two had met, but it wouldn’t be the last.

A chance conversation leads to a partnership

Pliska returned to the island recently, seeking out the beauty he had discovered that first time. He would find something more this time around.

“I went back a year and a half ago,” said Pliska. “We were about to go on a little sailing voyage, so we were just talking about being on the water. I said, ‘We do these poker cruises.’ It was actually Richard who said ‘Why don’t you do the cruises on Virgin Voyages?’ So, I went down for his birthday on one of the cruise ships to experience it. It was phenomenal.”

That casual mention of poker cruises in Branson’s company would lead to the immense partnership the two have since formed.

Richard Branson - Photo credit Getty Images
Richard Branson – Photo credit Getty Images

“It’s wild and crazy and fun,” described Pliska. “All of the things that can be frustrating about cruises have been taken out. All of the positive things and a lot of fun surprises have been put in. This is the cruise. We’re very proud.”

The full ship takeover package

The first full ship takeover WPT Voyage is scheduled for March 31st – April 6th, 2024. It will feature a $5,000 Main Tour Event, an $1,100 Prime Event, a $25,000 High Roller Event, as well as other tournaments and cash games.

“This one’s going to be special,” explained Pliska. “There are 1,400 cabins; this is a floating city. It’s a chance for the entire poker community to come together like a reunion. It’s nice to spend quality time with people you’ve collaborated with and played with over the years. To do it in a fun setting where you’ll be completely taken care of, eat amazing food, and party; it’s really aligned with WPT’s commitment to doing things a little differently.

The WPT has done poker cruises in the past, but this is the first time they’ve rented out an entire ship, courtesy of this partnership with Branson.

WPT Full Ship Takeover
WPT full ship takeover details

“We’re going to see what happens when you take the entire poker community and put them on a ship at sea,” said Pliska. “We really like people. We love poker, we love the competitiveness, but we really love the engagements. That’s what it’s all about.”

How to join the party

For full information, you can head to WPT’s direct website to see the schedule and book online. Stops will include Miami, Grand Cayman, Bimini Bahamas, and more. They even have a golf tournament planned with WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage.

Leave it to the WPT to continue to try new and exciting things to push the boundaries of what’s possible within poker. Next year, 1,400 cabins will be filled with poker players and their friends and families, and someone on board will have their name inscribed on the Mike Sexton Champions Cup.

Will it be you?