Although it is getting a bit quieter with the holidays approaching, the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour have been busy with some moves. In one case, one organization is announcing the dates for its historic anniversary and the other is announcing a sale that leaves some questions.
WSOP to Run May 28-July16, 2019
In what will be the 50th anniversary of the venerable tournament, the WSOP will be held at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino once again in 2019. From May 28 through July 16, the best in the poker world – and the amateurs who will rise to the challenge – will battle it out on the green baize of the tournament poker tables in Las Vegas. As usual with the WSOP, there will be some “made for the WSOP” tournaments, including the first event soon after the opening of the schedule.
On May 30, the “Big 50” will begin, featuring a $5 million prize pool. The “Big 50” will have four flights to build the player field, with the first entry being a rake-free $500 (each reentry will be raked at normally rates, as will reentries). Players will play 50-minute levels with a starting stack of 50,000 in chips. This should be a massive event, because of the low buy in, and it is entirely conceivable that entries could crack the 20K mark, let alone the 10K that would allow it to break even.
There are other “specialty” events that are noteworthy on the schedule. The “Millionaire Maker,” with its $1 million guarantee for the eventual champion; the “Monster Stack,” in which players start the tourney with a 50K stack; and the “Crazy Eights,” with a guaranteed $888,888 to the champion, will dominate the schedule in June. All of these tournaments (and, of course, literally tens of other events) will lead up to the WSOP $10,000 Championship Event. The “Main Event” will begin with its first of three-Day Ones on July 3, with Day 1B on Independence Day and Day 1C on July 5.
“We’re excited to commence our golden event,” said WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart. “We expect our opening weekend “Big 50” event to be one of the largest in our history, and certainly one of the best value tournaments ever offered. This is part of our concerted plans to make the 2019 WSOP a better value all-around.”
Chinese-Based Ourgame Sells WPT to Black Ridge Acquisition Corporation
While everyone is annotating their calendars accordingly, the WPT is in the middle of some changes of its own. The Chinese-based ownership of the WPT, Ourgame, sold WPT and another entity, Allied Sports International, to Black Ridge Acquisition Corporation late last week. In a worrisome move, the two entities will be merged into one company that is known as Allied Esports Entertainment, Inc. In their press release, there was very little mention of poker and more emphasis placed on the “Esports” part of the game.
“AESE will be an esports entertainment company dedicated to providing world-class in-person experiences, multiplatform content and interactive services to the global video gaming community through a unique fusion of two leaders in the esports and entertainment industries, Allied Esports and WPT. By strategically combining Allied Esports’ global network of properties and content creation facilities with WPT’s nearly two decades of international expertise in live events, content distribution and customer engagement, AESE will provide esports audiences with offerings unparalleled in the industry today.”
If you didn’t notice it, the future of the WTP isn’t exactly at the top of the list when it comes to the company. Part of the property picked up by Black Ridge is the HyperX Esports Arena in Las Vegas, which the WPT will be using next year for some final tables of their tournaments. But nothing is mentioned about the WPT, the plans for next year (which would be Season XVIII) or the long-term goals and targets for Black Ridge and its ownership of the WPT.
With the money that Black Ridge is spending, you’d have to think there’s some plan in the works. The $213.8 million deal is a huge increase over what Ourgame spent just a few years ago. In 2015, Ourgame spent $35 million cash for the entirety of the WPT (which, in itself, was a markup over the $12.3 million that bwin.party digital entertainment paid for the WPT in 2009). But without anything concrete spelled out in their communiques it leaves the mind to wonder.