In its illustrious history, the World Poker Tour has broken new ground. Most notably, they decided that the world needed to see televised tournament poker regularly on cable television twenty years ago! Now the WPT is taking on a new challenge of running a “hybrid” poker tournament that will take place in Mexico City in May.

Starts Online, Ends Live

The WPT500 Mexico City will be unique in that it will start as an online tournament. Currently, the WPT’s online home WPT Global is hosting satellite tournaments for the $500 buy-in event. These tournaments will continue to be run online until May 21, and players are permitted to enter as many times as they desire. The “best stack forward” rule, where a player’s best stack from Day One play is in action, will be utilized.

After May 21, players will receive $1000 towards travel to Mexico City’s Fronton Mexico, where Day Two will kick off its action on May 31. Players who earn multiple slots in the Day Two festivities will have their lesser stacks converted into a min-cash from the Day Two prize pool. With the $500 buy-in ($50 juice) and a $500,000 guaranteed prize pool, it promises to be an event that many will be interested in.

The hybrid tournament is not a new creation. The World Series of Poker has held bracelet events in the past that started as online tournaments and ended in a live setting (and who can forget the 2020 “Main Event” debacle?). But there is precedent for this type of tournament, although it failed to capture the attention of the poker world the way the promoters wanted.

Do You Remember the ISPT?

Back in 2012, there was an organization called the International Stadium Poker Tour that looked to create a unique tournament experience. The ISPT wanted to give the opportunity to players to play online and then transfer play in the tournament to a major sports stadium for the final days of the event. The ISPT garnered extensive buzz for their concept, particularly in part because they were looking to have thousands of players on poker tables and a $30 million prize pool.

The stage was set, with Wembley Stadium in London, England, serving as the venue which would receive thousands of players for the tournament. Alas, that turned out to be wishful thinking. Scheduling the final days of the tournament for June 2013, online numbers just didn’t come up to the standard that the ISPT expected. By September 2012, they had removed the “guaranteed” prize pool from their marketing and there were some serious questions as to whether the event would actually take place.

In the end, there was a tournament that was lackluster compared to what the ISPT was billing. When all was done, only 761 entries would be received for the €3000 buy-in tournament. 100 players would eventually earn a cash from what would be the only ISPT event, including poker notables like 2008 World Champion Peter Eastgate, Antoine Saout, Sam Trickett, and Ole Schemion.

The final table could have been a memorable event. Praz Banzi, David ‘The Devilfish’ Ulliott, and Freddy Deeb all finished short of the final table in fifteenth through thirteenth places, while British pro Julian Gardner was the last notable name on the list. The heads-up match came down to Jakub Michalak defeating Xavier El Fassy, with Michalak defeating El Fassy to take the inaugural (and only) title on the ISPT.

What will be the outcome of the WPT500 Mexico City? The players will be the ones who determine that fate!

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