WPT Prime Championship Smashing Lofty Expectations in Year 2

Checking in on the $1,100 WPT Prime Championship through two flights finds the mid-major event not only soaring to its $5 million guarantee but possibly offering a seven-figure first-place prize.

Jeff Walsh
Dec 9, 2023
WPT Ambassador Brad Owen battling in Day 1B of the WPT Prime Championship at Wynn Las Vegas.

There were lofty expectations placed on this year’s $1,100 WPT Prime Championship, especially after last year’s inaugural Prime Championship brought out more than 5,000 runners and shattered the guarantee of $2 million.

In anticipation, World Poker Tour bumped up the prize pool guarantee to $5 million this year hoping players would respond to a more aggressive number in line with the $40 million guarantee attached to the WPT World Championship. That push is paying off as players, so far, are coming out en masse. With 3,834 entries piling into the Wynn through the first two (of four) starting flights, onlookers are wondering just how high the WPT Prime Championship will fly.

Of course, nothing is set in stone as anything can happen, but extrapolating the number from the first two flights paints a picture that could result in a seven-figure payday for this year’s winner.

Last year, the numbers looked like this:

Day 1A – 1,205 entries
Day 1B – 1,868 entries
Day 1C – 2,357 entries

Total entries: 5,490
Prize pool: $5,267,100

In the end, the event was won by Stephen Song for $712,650 which was 13.5% of the prize pool.

Here’s a look at where the tournament stands through two flights

Day 1A – 1,636 entries (+431, ~ 35% increase)
Day 1B – 2,198 entries (+330, ~18% increase)

Total entries through two flights: 3,834

Both Day 1A and Day 1B brought out the crowds with plenty of notable names and Champions Club members in the field. On Day 1A Poker Hall of Famer Huck Seed was joined by the likes of WSOP champ Joe Cada, Jack McClelland, Maria Konnikova, Tyler Patterson, Cherish Andrews, Landon Tice, and Lara Eisenberg among others.

Day 1B was also a star-studded affair with WPT Player of the Year points leader Bin Weng among the likes of WPT ambassadors Brad Owen and Andrew Neeme, Calvin Anderson, WSOP Champ Hossein Ensan, Kathy Liebert, Jared Jaffee, Scotty Nguyen, and WPT commentator Tony Dunst. In other words, both days were packed with familiar faces looking to be a part of the action.

Through two days, the tournament less fewer than 1,400 runners to reach the guarantee. With two flights left, should the WPT Prime Championship follow suit with nearly every tournament in the modern era, the later the flight the more players arrive. The guarantee feels well in hand and should be reached by midday on Day 1C, and possibly exceeding last year’s totals by end of registration that day.

Once the guarantee is met (5,211 entries), the next number to keep an eye on is first-place prize. Provided officials follow a formula close to last year to determine the winner’s share, the prize pool probably needs to exceed $7.5 million for someone to turn a $1,100 buy-in into a seven-figure payday. It’s a big number: 7,816 runners but it’s very doable.

Here’s what it could look like: even a modest increase on last year’s Day 1C number of 2,357 entries should get the total entries for this close to 6,400. Again, history shows that the last chance to enter a tournament where there’s life-changing money up top, like Day 1D, could make for an absolutely jam-packed day at the Wynn.