By Sean Chaffin
The World Poker Tour has a long history with the state of New Jersey. And while players may not be heading to the Borgata this winter for a tour event, there will still be plenty of WPT action in the Garden State in December.
After running two successful online series in the state, the tour is once again teaming with partypoker US Network for the $3,500 WPT Online Poker Open. The series is set for Dec. 27–29 with a $1 million guarantee and marks the first time a WPT Main Tour event has been available online for players in the U.S.
Players can expect much of what they’d expect in a live WPT tournament including adding the winner’s name to the Mike Sexton Champions Cup. The champion also collects a $15,000 seat into the WPT Tournament of Champions presented by Baccarat Crystal as well as points toward the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race.
The new champion also adds a Hublot Big Bang E Titanium watch to their six-figure first-place prize, valued at $5,000.
Several East Coast-based WPT champions are pleased to see more online action for American players in the age of COVID-19. A WPT Main Tour opportunity only adds to that environment with some added prestige.
Brian Altman, of Boston, leads the Hublot WPT Player of the Year race after winning the WPT Lucky Hearts Poker Open and taking third in WPT Maryland. With Eric Afriat in second just 400 points behind, a nice online score could pad his lead a bit. But beyond that, Altman is simply happy to see another positive step for regulated online poker in the U.S.
“It’s great that an online WPT Main Tour event is finally available to the American market,” he said. “I’m looking forward to playing in it later this month. Collaborations like these make me very excited about the future of poker in the U.S.A.”
While he won’t be able to play the event, two-time WPT champion and New York resident Jonathan Little echoes Altman’s views.
“I think WPT is consistently doing a great job to provide high-quality events for the players,” he says. “I am excited to see them continuing to expand their offerings to players in this tough time.”
Four-time WPT champion Darren Elias is a consistent online presence in recent months, and no doubt would be happy to be the first live and online Main Tour winner.
“I think it’s great that WPT is running an online event in New Jersey,” Elias says. “While the numbers will certainly be smaller than an open event due to the market restrictions, it’s a good start to poker in the U.S. to see events like this. I am planning on playing and looking forward to it.”
New Jersey players David Coleman and Tony Sinishtaj have the opportunity to add second WPT titles to their New Jersey online poker resumés. Sinishtaj had already been a member of the WPT Champions Club when he took down the $1,060 WPT Online Borgata Series Main Event in September. He took home $77,350 for his efforts and can’t wait to give it a shot at his second tour title via the partypoker US Network.
“Hopefully it’s something that gets added to the schedule for coming years,” he says of the upcoming event. “I would love to close out 2020 with a second New Jersey WPT title. It would be an honor to be the first. Also, the money would be nice.”
Coleman won the $400 WPT Online Poker Open in June for $56,586 plus an $11,000 prize package to play in the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic. He’s anxious to jump back in the action online – this time for a shot at adding his name to the Sexton Cup.
“I will be playing the event for sure and am pretty excited about it,” he said. “I think partypoker [US Network] and WPT did a great job putting this event together and keeping it exclusively online. Live poker should be put on hold for the time being, and online poker is a great alternative.”
Sean Chaffin is a freelance writer in Crandall, Texas, and his work appears in numerous websites and publications. Follow him on Twitter @PokerTraditions.