Poker News Daily can confirm that World Poker Tour (WPT) Hostess Amanda Leatherman is parting ways with the brand. Unconfirmed reports have her joining the PokerStars-backed North American Poker Tour (NAPT).
The WPT is in the midst of filming its eighth season and will hold the Celebrity Invitational over the weekend at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles. On February 26th, the annual $10,000 buy-in L.A. Poker Classic will begin and crown a champion on March 4th. Two days after the Main Event begins, the Commerce Casino will host the series’ High Roller tournament, which features a sizable $25,000 price tag. The WPT’s seventh and eighth seasons have aired on Fox Sports Net, which also carries the UB.com poker news show “Poker2Nite.”
Leatherman has been a staple of online video updates with some of the greats of the game and has interviewed a large chunk of players who have taken to the WPT’s felts. A representative of the roving tournament series confirmed to Poker News Daily that Leatherman was on her way out: “Amanda is well-known in the industry for her work across a variety of live reporting and poker news outlets. She was a great addition to the WPT Live Updates team for two seasons and now she’s moving on to her next adventure. We wish her all the best and look forward to seeing her on the poker circuit.”
Her future destination has not been formally announced. On the TwoPlusTwo forums, speculation had the fiery female heading to the NAPT, which kicks off on Saturday from the Venetian in Las Vegas with its first U.S. event. TwoPlusTwo poster Allen “doublejoker” Kessler asserted, “Amanda Leatherman out as Hostess of WPT, and the new hostess for Pokerstars NAPT on ESPN2. I confirmed this with sources from Pokerstars as well as the WPT.” Leatherman could reprise her role as a Live Updates Hostess, as model Joanna Krupa will serve as the on-air face of the NAPT on ESPN.
Poker News Daily can also confirm that a new WPT Live Updates Hostess will likely be hired in time for the L.A. Poker Classic. We expect to have an exclusive interview with the newest member of the WPT broadcast team after the final paperwork has been submitted. In the meantime, TwoPlusTwo fans are clamoring for the WPT to bring back Kimberly Lansing, who worked with the brand prior to Leatherman. Christian “charder30” Harder remained supportive of the departing Leatherman: “congrats amanda, good stuff and good luck!”
ESPN will air 16 hours of original NAPT programming beginning in April, with Krupa serving as its on-air face. Among those looking forward to watching the action unfold both in person and on television is Team PokerStars Pro member Daniel Negreanu, who commented in a press release distributed by the world’s largest online poker site on Thursday, “Having the North American Poker Tour on ESPN2 is going to take poker on this continent to a different level. With some of the most important gaming venues in the U.S. onboard and the reach of ESPN2, the NAPT is set to bring the excitement of world-class tournament poker to millions who love this game as much as I do.”
Party Gaming, the parent company of PartyPoker, recently purchased the rights to the WPT and may soon greatly expand the brand outside of the United States. During its eighth season, WPT stops were scheduled for Venice, Bratislava, Cyprus, Marrakech, Bucharest, Paris, and Barcelona. In addition to Fox Sports Net in the United States, its past seasons can be found on The Travel Channel and GSN. Full Tilt Poker sponsors the eighth season of the WPT and 13 final tables will air on the cable station over 26 episodes. The first occurred on January 24th with action from the 2009 Bellagio Cup.
Stay tuned to Poker News Daily for the latest on this breaking story.