WPT World Championship Preview: All we do is Wynn

Adam Hampton
Published by:
Posted on: December 8, 2023 6:36 am EST

Last year’s WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas was the first of its kind. Sure, there had been WPT World Championships before, but they’d had different names (WPT Championship, WPT Tournament of Champions), been held in different places (Bellagio, Borgata, Aria) and at different times of the year – usually around springtime.

But when the WPT World Championship put on its show at Wynn Las Vegas in December, everyone agreed that something special happened. From the amazing venue, to the involvement of their ambassadors, to the way they courted the media and, most importantly, the players, the 2022 WPT World Championship saw the stars align.

A trophy won on the World Poker Tour that looks like a miniature replica of the Wynn Las Vegas hotel and casino
The WPT World Championship is back at Wynn Las Vegas for a second year

It wasn’t luck, and that hard work paid off with the Championship Event’s ambitious $15 million guarantee almost doubled to over $29 million. Not to mention a Global Poker Award for Best Poker Event of the Year.

Now, back at Wynn Las Vegas for a second year, any fears of a sophomore slump are proving to be unfounded. In fact, in the best traditions of Las Vegas’ other favorite card game, more than anything else the WPT World Championship is doubling down.

Bottling the magic

Actually, make that more than doubling down. Last year’s magic number of $15m GTD has been bumped up to a huge $40 million guaranteed for the Championship Event. This record-breaking figure requires no fewer than 4,000 players to stump up the $10,000 plus fees.

Overlays may scare operators and card rooms, but they do the opposite to players. Anyone hoping to scoop up some house money in this one may be disappointed, however. There are four starting flights, kicking off at 11am each day from December 12, each featuring seven levels of late registration. You can bet there are plenty of satellites running, too, giving any poker players in the city, from professionals to tourists, ample opportunities to take part.

Factor in the top-notch location, the goodwill generated by last year’s event, and the fact that any one of us could follow in Eliot Hudon’s footsteps and win $4+ million playing a game we love, and it would be hard to bet against the WPT repeating the feat of 2022. Perhaps you can’t bottle magic, but you can see what works and do it again. Once more, with feeling (and 1,000+ more players than last year, fingers crossed).

WPT World Championship 2022 winner Eliot Hudon poses for a winner's photo
Eliot Hudon – and color-coordinated friends – celebrate his win at the 2022 WPT World Championship

Beyond the Championship Event

The big $10k with the eight-figure pot of gold is rightfully going to grab the headlines, but there’s a lot more going on during the WPT World Championship Festival, much of it aimed at those players whose passion for poker is deeper than their pockets.

A suite of $1,100 events are scheduled, giving players a shot at big money without breaking the bank. Here are a few that have caught our eye:

WPT Prime Championship

The $1.1k buy-in tourney with the $5m guarantee started on December 7, with Day 1s running through to December 10. Days 2 and 3 take place on December 11-12, with the final table held on December 19. That one will be on TV, too, so brush your hair why don’t ya.

HORSE Championship

Mixed game players will find the thrills they seek on December 12-13. That’s the same day as some of the World Championship Day 1s, so don’t be surprised if a Hall of Famer joins your table after busting out of the Main.

Limit O8 Championship

If you prefer four cards to two and are averse to huge preflop shoves, December 17-18 are dates for your diary. Last year’s winner was Allan ‘Chainsaw’ Kessler, who scooped over $50k for the win.

PLO Championship

Hold’em’s brash cousin takes center stage on December 13, and should attract plenty of players – including those who already locked up their Day 2 seats in the Championship Event.

2022 WPT Prime Championship winner Stephen Song is interviewed by Vince Van Patten
Stephen Song won more than $712k in the 2022 WPT Prime Championship

$10k too small?

If this all seems a little small-ball for you, then a) must be nice, and b) you’ve still got options. Don’t let that money burn a hole in your pocket, here are some tourneys we’d play if we could:

$25k High Roller

You know that one player? From the TV? They’ll probably be here. December 17-18 are the dates for this one, which last year was won by that one guy from YouTube, Ethan ‘Rampage’ Yau.

$50k WPT Alpha8 at Wynn Las Vegas

December 20-21 will see the Wynn play host to the tournament which makes the High Roller look like, erm, a smaller roller? Look, it’s a big buy-in, is what we’re saying. But even this is small compared to…

The Big One for One Drop

It’s the biggest tournament on this – and most – poker schedules. The Super-Duper High Roller with the $1 million buy-in takes place on December 18-20, and you’d better believe that final table will be televised. Who doesn’t want to watch elite players battle for prizes with that many commas in the numbers?

A banner at Wynn Las Vegas advertises the Big One for One Drop poker tournament
The million-dollar buy-in tournament is sure to draw a crowd, both live and watching online

More, more, more

The WPT are calling this a Festival for a reason; there is plenty of entertainment going on whether you’re playing or not.

  • The premier meet-up game on December 1 saw a whole bunch of big names, from Phil Ivey to Gus Hansen, join the crowds to play some $1/3 and $2/5 for chips and giggles.
  • The WPT Ladies meet-up game is taking place this morning, with added prizes and a range of games spread at affordable stakes. Jamie Kerstetter and a bunch of legendary ladies will be playing from 9am.
  • Plus, a special content creators’ cash game on December 7 saw PokerOrg’s Conrad Simpson play on stream with the likes of Brad Owen, Andrew Neeme and BensBenz. With mixed results…

If you can’t make it in person, the WPT is streaming tons of the action during the festival, so make sure you tune in. And if you are in Vegas for the WPT Festival, what have you seen that looks like fun? Let us know on our socials, and if you see one of us in our PokerOrg white hat, come say hi!

Images courtesy of the WPT