If you want to qualify online for the $40 million guaranteed WPT World Championship, there’s currently only one real-money site running satellites. WPT Global is part of the official WPT stable, and it’s a start-up that’s gone from launch to profitability in just 18 months—no mean feat in a world where big-name players have tried and failed to get sites off the ground. We spoke to its general manager, Alex Scott, about how he’s done it, how WPT Global stands out from the crowd, and the big value it’s offering players in the run-up to the World Championship this December.
PokerOrg: Before we get onto the World Championship, can you tell us about WPT Global and how you fit into the larger WPT ecosystem?
Alex Scott: WPT Global is the online home of the World Poker Tour. You’ve got the WPT live events and the TV show, which reach hundreds of millions of households worldwide every year. Then there’s ClubWPT, which is a subscription model, and LearnWPT, which is a training site. WPT Global is the latest addition to the stable, and we’re called Global partly because we’re taking real-money online poker into lots of new regions.
You launched about 18 months ago, so you’re still a new operator. How hard has it been to establish yourself?
AS: We’ve grown really quickly, and we’re already profitable. That’s really important in the context of being a startup because most startups are never profitable. But we’re still in startup mode, and we operate with a similar mentality to the Silicon Valley startups that you might have heard about. We’re more like a high-tech startup than a traditional operator working with legacy infrastructure.
We try things to see if they work. And the fact that we’re a .com-regulated business makes it easy for us to do that—it’s something we couldn’t do if we were in strictly regulated markets like Spain, France, or Germany, where everything needs to be approved in advance. We experiment, double down on what works, and throw away the stuff that isn’t working.
Game integrity at WPT Global
Game integrity is a huge issue for players now, and it’s only going to get bigger as technology advances. You were one of two operators who signed up to form a partnership with GTOWizard recently, so is this an issue that you want to lead on?
AS: I still remember, back in the day, when bot detection was essentially just ‘let’s ask Windows what other pieces of software are running at the same time as the client’. Things have changed so much since then. Nowadays, detecting things like bots and RTA is all about big data, and that’s a big technology shift for an established online poker business. We’ve been built that way from the beginning. We never had the old way of doing things. We weren’t looking at somebody’s computer to see if they were running bots. We’ve been built on this big data foundation. So we collect an enormous amount of data—not personal data, but data on the way that people play and the way they interact with the software. And we have very powerful tools—the kinds of tools that you would expect a tech start-up to have. We’ve never had to make that big, expensive change that many of the older online poker providers have to make to be successful, and we’re very happy to partner with organizations like GTOWizard to improve detection of RTA, which is a very topical threat to online poker at the moment.
We also use our data to make the games fairer; we essentially segment players into pros and recreational players. If you’re classed as a pro, there are a limited number of seats that you can occupy. If you’re a recreational player, every seat is open to you. Most of our games are eight-handed, and there are a maximum of two pros per table.
What other issues are important to you at WPT Global?
AS: One of my main objectives is to get our customer support up to the level that everybody remembers from the early days of online poker. My second job in the industry was working for customer support at PokerStars, back when its support was legendary. I’ve tried to bring as much of that experience to our team as possible; that’s how I want our customers to be treated.
WPT World Championship – $40 million guaranteed
Moving onto the WPT World Championship, what was your first thought when you heard about the $40 million guarantee?
AS: Everybody expected it to be bigger than last year because we blew the guarantee out of the water. In 2022, we were expecting it to overlay, but for it to be a fantastic event and something we could grow. I knew it would be a much bigger guarantee this year, but I was expecting it to be $25 or $30 million. $40 million is typical of the kind of ambition we have in our team.
You need 4,000 players to hit the guarantee, which is ambitious, especially with other big events going on at the same time. How many players are you hoping to send from WPT Global?
AS: We’re going to send hundreds, but the final number is up to us to hit at the moment. There are lots of different ways to qualify from $1 up, and I can confidently say that there will be lots of overlays in these World Championship satellites, and we’re going to be giving away a lot of value to players. We’re generous with our promotions at the moment because we’re trying to attract as many new players to our site as possible.
Qualify for the World Championship at WPT Global
Can you give us more information on the different qualification routes?
AS: We’ve tried to mix things up and do things that appeal to everyone, so it’s not just direct satellites, although there are plenty of those. Every Sunday, we offer qualifiers at $220 and $1,060. Winners receive a $12,400 WPT World Championship Passport, and you can satellite in from $5.
Then we’ve got a Scavenger Hunt, where you can complete six weekly challenges and play in a freeroll every Sunday with a $12,400 Passport up top. And a Discord leaderboard where you can earn points by playing in $10 tournaments. If you end up at the top of the leaderboard after the last tournament of the month, you’ll win a Passport. If you’re a new player, you’ll get satellite tickets for signing up, and we’re also running a PLO Rake Challenge and a Kings of Cash Challenge where players earn freeroll tickets for every 100 hands they play, with satellite tickets up for grabs in the freerolls. We’ve tried to think of everyone and be as creative as possible.
Is there one that you’d say stands out above the rest? If our readers were going to try one way, which would you recommend?
AS: This is a tough one, as there are so many ways to qualify, and there’s something for everyone. Arguably the best-value way to qualify is to take part in the World Championship Scavenger Hunt, where you complete six simple missions to take part in a freeroll with a World Championship package for the winner. The missions are so easy, it’s great value.
But my personal favourite is the 5-Card Omaha launch giveaway, because I love the non-hold’em games. In this giveaway, you just need to play enough Omaha hands to generate $25k in rake, and you’ll receive a World Championship package worth $12,400. That’s nearly 50% rakeback, and you’ll be playing in incredibly juicy games, so it’s a great combination.
Did you have any WPT Global qualifiers go deep at the World Championship last year?
AS: Yes! Last year, Stephen Kehoe from Ireland qualified on WPT Global, winning his seat in a $500 satellite. He ended up finishing 14th for $269,000. This year, we hope that many more of our qualifiers will do well and cash in the event, if not win!
What can players expect if they qualify through WPT Global?
AS: Last year, the WPT World Championship rightfully won the GPI Award for Best Live Event. The community has been talking about how great it was for nearly a year now and how well players were looked after on and off the tables. This year’s event promises to be even more spectacular, with $40 million guaranteed, and WPT Global is the only place to qualify for it online. Players who qualify can expect a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Images courtesy of WPT