The holidays arrived a little early for poker players at the Wynn and it was the World Poker Tour came was bearing gifts. When the total entries in the $40 million guaranteed WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas were tallied at the end of registration, the final number reached 3,835. An impressive number for any $10K, but not the 4,081 needed to hit the target guarantee.
So, in the end, the final prize pool is exactly that: $40 million, which now includes an overlay of just over $2.4 million, an added amount of value to players in the field of one of the biggest poker events of the year.
Just one year after crushing the inaugural $15 million guarantee, to the tune of $29 million, the World Poker Tour and Wynn Las Vegas partnered again and kicked up the stakes. In the face of worldwide competition, they came up with an ambitious guarantee – one that energized players and reinforced the must-play aura of the WPT World Championship. In the end, the unadjusted prize pool was just over $37.5 million – $8.5 million more than last year.
The amount of money missed represents just 6% of the guarantee, and for players it’s the equivalent of having 246 fewer players to get through to reach the destination of the now-announced $5,678,000 first-place prize. It’s not just first-place that will walk with life-changing money, all six players of the final table will walk with seven-figure paydays.
Right after registration closed, World Poker Tour CEO Adam Pliska spoke with the media in attendance about the event, the overlay, and his vision for the future of the partnership with Wynn Las Vegas.
“We were creating a stretch goal, substantially higher definitely than the guarantee last year, but more than that, substantially higher than the prize pool for last year,” Pliska said. “We wanted that because we realized that was the best avenue to provide the value to the players. Now our ultimate goal is to create absolutely the best tournament that we can.
“We are growing this franchise and we want to make this something that lasts for many, many years,” he continued. “The $40 million guarantee is our way of making a truly stretch goal and to say that we are committed. We’re not going any place. We’re building this up. We’re going to continue to make positive changes.
“But the most important thing we are after – we want players to say that this was the best player experience. And we’ve had so much positive feedback. And a lot of that is that the players have been contributing to that feedback. If you ask me what I’m proudest of is that I truly believe that we have taken the feedback to heart.”
To put it in perspective, according to WPT Executive Tournament Director Matt Savage, this is not only the biggest prize pool in World Poker Tour history, but the day 1D field of 1,523 entries is also the single biggest one-day prize pool in the Tour’s history ($14,925,400, rake adjusted)
A breakdown of the entries by starting flight:
Day 1A: 609 entries (202 advanced – 33% of the field)
Day 1B: 730 entries (265 advanced – 36% of the field)
Day 1C: 973 entries (337 advanced – 34% of the field)
Day 1D: 1,523 entries
Total Entrants: 3,835
Pliska went on to praise his team at the World Poker Tour as well as the partnership with the Wynn calling the partnership “probably one of the great transformational chapters of the World Poker Tour.” Ultimately, Pliska viewed the overlay not as a failure but as an investment in the company, the events, and the players.
“We believe that the growth of the World Poker Tour, the growth of good poker all over, helps poker. At the end of the day, what are we competing with? We’re competing with the real estate in the minds of people that they want to play this game. And so, if they come here and they have an excellent experience, I think we’ve done a great job for the brand, but I (also) think we do a good job for poker.”