By Sean Chaffin
Los Angeles, Barcelona, Las Vegas, Northern California – there are plenty of hot spots left on the WPT Season XVII schedule with players from around the world hoping to cash in and dreaming of adding their names to the Champions Cup. The Hublot Player of the Year battle is heating up as well with Ping Liu on top and Tony Ruberto right on his heels.
On top of that, the WPT will be hosting its first series of final tables filmed for FOX Sports from HyperX Esports Arena at Luxor. It’s an exciting time for the tour, and there’s plenty to look forward to. Here’s a look at what players can expect in the coming months.
WPT L.A. Poker Classic
The WPT rolls into the Commerce Casino March 2-6 for one of the most historic events on the tour. This event dates back to Season I and offers winners a chance to be mentioned among some big names like previous winners Michael Mizrachi, Phil Ivey, Chris Moorman, and Anthony Zinno.
Another interesting storyline broke through last year in Season XVI, when Dennis Blieden took home the $1 million top prize. It was the first WPT cash for Blieden, a recreational player originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, and now works as a vice president of finance for a digital media company in Hollywood.
One highlight of this year’s LAPC will be the One Million One Day Satellite event, with Commerce awarding 100 seats into the $10,000 Main Event in one day on March 1. Players making the final table will head to Las Vegas on March 11 to play to a champion at HyperX Esports Arena.
Players will see plenty of culture and cards at Casino Barcelona from March 8-17 in a complete week-long ultimate WPT experience. That includes €5 million in guarantees across the WPT Main Event (€3 million), WPTDeepStacks ($1 million), and WPT500 ($1 million).
The series is part of the WPT’s partnership with partypokerLIVE and offers plenty of opportunities to qualify online as well. WPT Barcelona offers the ultimate in a European poker vacation. The €3,300 WPT Main Event runs March 11-17 with the €1,500 WPTDeepStacks event set for March 14-17. Players can get the week started with the €550 WPT500, playing March 8-12.
With big money and prestige on the line in a historic city, poker players have plenty of reason to head to Spain for this inaugural event. Buena Suerte!
WPT Rolling Thunder
With an increased buy-in up to $5,000, the WPT Rolling Thunder event is upping the ante this year and should make for an even bigger prize pool in this popular event. Players can head to NoCal for some California dreamin’ with Thunder Valley Casino located about a 40-minute drive northeast of Sacramento.
The fun runs March 8-12 and should attract plenty of West Coast rounders as well as players from across the country. Previous champions include Mike Del Vecchio, Ravee Mathi Sundar, and Harrison Gimbel. Former WSOP November Niner J.C. Tran won his second WPT title at the event in Season XII (2014), the first year it became a part of the tour.
David Larson took home the title last year for $295,128 in an event that featured 440 entries and a $1.4 million prize pool. It wasn’t easy. Larson faced a stacked final table that included 2015 WSOP Main Event champion Joe McKeehen, current Hublot Player of the Year leader Ping Liu, and DJ Alexander, a Houston pro with $2.2 million in live tournament winnings.
It should be a great event yet again, and the final table will live-streamed online on March 12. Players can expect plenty of fun at a great property.
Champions Cup Finals – WPT TV Final Tables
Final table players will settle things in style in March, the first three televised events played out at HyperX Esports Arena at Luxor Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Players will play to a champion on March 11 (L.A. Poker Classic), March 12 (Gardens Poker Championship), and March 13 (Borgata Winter Poker Open) – all in front of the cameras to appear on FOX Sports television.
The final tables also offer friends, family, and poker fans a unique way to take in the action. The state-of-the-art facility is being utilized by the WPT in partnership with MGM, and this marks the first year that Main Tour final tables will be filmed at HyperX Esports Arena exclusively for FOX Sports.
The 30,000-square-foot arena features multiple levels with a complete broadcast center and production studio. It’s designed to host every form of competitive gaming, including poker, in a cool, high-tech environment. Players will play on a competition stage with a 50-foot LED video wall displaying all the action for those in attendance.
Along with cutting edge production facilities, fans can grab a cocktail and meal at bars and eateries located inside the venue. Television screens are placed throughout for checking in on the action at the tables. Fans can even go big time and cheer on their favorite players via the “Owner’s Box” luxury VIP lounges – with cards, cocktails, and fun.
Plenty of big names and interesting characters will be hoping to add their names to the Champions Cup in Las Vegas, and it should be quite a nice vibe and experience.
WPT at Venetian
It’s more Vegas poker action when this inaugural event makes its debut March 22-26. The Venetian is a luxurious property with a major poker scene. Located right in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip, the event should bring out plenty of Vegas-area rounders looking for a big payday as well as players from across the country.
The event features a $3,500 buy-in and $1 million guarantee. WPT commentator Tony Dunst has already committed to getting on the action at the property, and no doubt some of the tour’s past champions will be anteing up for some Vegas action also.
The event is part of the property’s DeepStack Showdown Poker Series and this year features 27 events kicking off March 13. That includes a buy-in level for everyone, from $200 to $1,100. Take a trip back to historic Italy right in Las Vegas. Only now after that gondola ride through the canals, you can head to the poker room – and hopefully, win enough to visit the real Venice soon.
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas. His work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.
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