In Focus: A WPT Premier Meet-Up Game Photo Blog

The second annual WPT Premier Meet-Up Game kicked off the WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas. Poker fans came from around the world to play cash games and have fun alongside some of the biggest starts in the game. Photographer Drew Amato captured it all.

Lance Bradley
Dec 2, 2023

For the second year in a row, the World Poker Tour kicked off the WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas by hosting the Premier Meet-Up Game at Wynn Las Vegas to give poker players, enthusiasts, and fans alike the opportunity to play with some of the biggest legends in poker. The buzz from the poker room in the Wynn was impossible to ignore and legendary photographer Drew Amato was in the house to capture every amazing moment. 

The schedule said pretty clearly that the start time for the Premier MUG was 9 a.m. but that didn’t stop the absolute diehards from getting their early to secure a seat and by 8 a.m. nearly all 28 tables were full. 

Playing a 1-on-1 game against Michael Jordan or getting in a round of 18 holes with Tiger Woods is an impossible ask for almost everybody – but getting to sit in a $1/$3 cash game with arguably the greatest poker player of all time was one of the highlights of the day for many players in the room. Phil Ivey, who was the first player to confirm entry into the $1 million buy-in WPT Big One for One Drop, was happy to splash around in low stakes games and take photos with his fans.
WPT Ambassadors Andrew Neeme and Brad Owen created and popularized the Meet-Up Game concept. When the pair joined WPT, it was a match made in heaven. Friday’s amazing turnout wouldn’t have been possible if the two friends – affectionately referred to as the Vlogfathers – hadn’t dreamed up this concept years ago.

One of the faces of the World Poker Tour, WPT anchor Lynn Gilmartin was handing out bad beats, raffle tickets, and high fives as she moved from table to table on Friday.  

Just 24 hours before the WPT Premier MUG kicked off, Gus Hansen was announced as an addition to the line up of poker superstars in the field. Hansen, who won the first ever World Poker Tour event in 2002, was also the first player to win three WPT titles. Not only did he bring that impressive resume to the Premier MUG, he also brought with him one helluva poker face.

For the last six and a half years, Tony Dunst has been in the WPT commentator calling all of the action at WPT final tables. On Friday, he was in the action and his personality and passion for poker was on full display.

In case there was any doubt about the can’t-miss status of the WPT Premier MUG, the fact that the man who is the busiest person on the planet at this time of year made it out should put that thought to bed. Santa Claus came to town on Friday and brought a jolly energy to an already bustling room

After nearly five hours of action, all eyes turned to the raffle which awards five seats to the WPT Prime Championship and a single seat to the $10,400 WPT World Championship event. Sunao Kitahara took home the big prize and now turns his WPT Premier MUG adventure into a shot at a share of the $40 million guaranteed prize pool.