I’m on a crusade.
The World Poker Tour is officially on the endangered species list, and we need to act now to save it. I know I’ve done my share of complaining, but I’ve had a revelation: The poker world needs the WPT.
We owe so much to the World Poker Tour. Yes, Chris Moneymaker helped usher in the poker boom, and yes, the hole cam was essentially invented by Henry Orenstein, not WPT creator Steven Lipscomb. But the WPT made poker glitzy and mainstream. ESPN had been televising the World Series of Poker for years and never made an impact like the WPT did in 2003. Sure, the WSOP is must-see TV now, but it wasn’t always so, and it owes a debt of gratitude to the WPT.
Speaking of debt, you may not know this, but the World Poker Tour hemorrhages money. It’s fighting to keep its NASDAQ listing, which requires a stock to trade at a minimum of $1 a share. Imagine that: World Poker Tour Enterprises can’t keep a stock above $1. We see poker’s champagne and caviar lifestyle all over the tube and yet the company bringing you these images is foundering.
Poker Hall of Famer Lyle Berman is the WPT’s chairman of the board and has never taken a dime from the tour despite pouring millions of his own money into the venture. He does it because of the love of the game, because he knows how important it is to have a tour like this. What a shame it would be if the World Poker Tour folded, essentially leaving the WSOP as the only option for big-time poker tournaments and exposure in the United States. Competition is good. It keeps you on your toes, which is why the WPT has had numerous incarnations and homes. Sure, some of those ventures failed (the PPT, the Cryptologic fiasco), but without failure, how can one know success? And if you’re not failing once in a while you’re not trying hard enough. And that’s what makes the WPT so important, because it’s willing to try new things, to bring us new poker opportunities (ClubWPT, WPT Events, WPT Boot Camps, MySpace WPT).
Would you know who Gus Hansen, Phil Ivey or Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi were if not for the WPT? Maybe, maybe not. Do you really think there would be so many poker rooms to choose from in Florida if the WPT never existed? Don’t bet on it. So whenever you see a WPT event on any one of its three hosting cable networks (Travel Channel, GSN, FSN), you need to put down the remote and watch. Support the WPT. And the next time you rake a pot or pitch a card, be sure to give thanks for the folks at the WPT. I know I will.
— Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re a fellow poker TV junkie.