By Lynn Gilmartin
For sixteen seasons, the World Poker Tour has trucked/shipped our television set to different casinos around the planet, which was quite a novelty. But now, we have a new novelty. Now, we have a permanent home where history will continue to be made under the same roof, in the city that serves as the central hub of all things poker — Las Vegas.
The HyperX Esports Arena is designed to host every form of competitive gaming, including poker, with a 50-foot LED video wall projecting games out to the 30,000 square-foot space, complete with various lounge areas, a couple of bars and a restaurant, an exclusive VIP box on the “Boss Level”, and the freedom to lounge about or walk throughout the space as a member of the high-stakes poker rail during World Poker Tour final tables.
Earlier this month, we had our first few final tables play out in our new home and it was nothing short of extraordinary. I just kept looking around in amazement, feeling like we had reached an entirely new level of cool.
I mean…we had a live string quartet of rockstars playing our opening song, Rise Above, to kick off the show! It was phenomenal.
For players, it’s now such a novelty to get to step into the exact same arena that previous televised WPT champions have, to fight for their trophy in the very same place. And with the time extension that comes with the pause in play to travel to Las Vegas, players can now make confirmed plans ahead of time for their rail to join. This month, players seemed to have a support team of 20, 30, 60-plus people each!
This rarely happened in the past unless they were playing in their home town, which often wasn’t the case for most transient poker pros. Some players had even gone as far as making custom shirts and finding sponsors. The energy in the room was electric and it all added to the magic of the arena.
And for us, the viewers, we got to indulge in the viewing of three back-to-back-back final tables in the one place. We got to witness eighteen different players from around the world fight for over $6 million in final table prize money. We had loads of ClubWPT VIPs in the house who got to meet WPT Champions Club members, such as Scotty Nyguen, enjoy dinner and drinks with a view, see all the behind-the-scenes production that goes on for our show on Fox Sports Regional Networks and get up close with three final tables.
It was a true Las Vegas experience to remember for all of us. If you can, join us again on May 30, 31 and June 3 as we do it all over again with three more final tables in this incredible space.