WPT debuts DeepStacks at Choctaw this fall, competing with WSOP

Kat Martin
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Posted on September 28, 2021 1:15 am EDT

The World Poker Tour (WPT) announced today that its prestigious WPTDeepStacks will be making a stop at Choctaw this fall. The full festival will run October 27 through November 8, with the $1,100 main event scheduled for November 5-8.

The Choctaw Casino & Resort in Durant, Oklahoma is no stranger to the WPT, having first hosted the tour in 2015. On that occasion, Jason Brin won the $3,700 buy-in tournament and the first prize of $682,975. This fall’s event is, however, the first time the WPTDeepStacks has been held at the property.

Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma own and operate eight casinos in the state. The Durant location represents the original property of the chain. The property is regarded as the flagship of the Choctaw Nation gaming industry. It recently underwent a $600 million renovation, and now features the 21-story luxury Sky Tower.

Geography plays a major part in the success of poker series at Choctaw-Durant. Located in south-east Oklahoma, the resort is only an hour north of the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. The last few years have seen an apparently unstoppable poker boom in Texas which provides a large player base, eager to test their mettle in a major poker series.

Provocative timing

While the Choctaw location for the WPT DeepStacks is natural and battle-tested, the timing of the event has struck many as surprising. The Main Event of the 52nd annual WSOP has four day 1 flights this year, scheduled for November 4 – 7. While it’s in principle possible for a player to bust the WPT early and head west in time for one of the later WSOP flights, it would be a bizarre decision for a poker player to plan such an itinerary.

It seems that the WPT has decided to schedule the Choctaw event in direct competition to the WSOP Main Event in Las Vegas.

Given the huge success of the WPT over two decades, most observers have concluded that the company has based this decision on solid business reasoning. The main player catchment area of Texas has been notoriously opposed to COVID-related measures such as lockdowns and mask mandates. Thus early November may see a poker-playing bifurcation, with those broadly pro-vaccination converging on Las Vegas, as skeptics turn to Durant.

Whatever the business rationale, poker players will have options this fall for major series. It will be interesting to see the relative participation at the two events held by the industry leaders.

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