World Poker Tour Championship Moves to Atlantic City for 2014
The World Poker Tour’s 2014 Championship Event is taking lace in Atlantic City this year, marking the first time in 12 years it has not taken place at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The event this year will be held in the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in New Jersey.
The WPT’s move caused Borgata president Tom Ballance to make a bold claim: “With online gaming and the popularity of the Borgata brand, the center of gravity of poker is moving to New Jersey.”
While the event might not itself signal such a revolutionary moment in American gambling, it does show that the Atlantic City’s appeal has grown, since the state began allowing online poker in November 2013. Several of the major sponsors for professional poker tournaments now have partnerships with Atlantic City casinos. The host of the 2014 WPT Championship is partypoker. The gaming company is owned by BWIN.Party, which is a partner on the Borgata Online gaming site.
WPT President Discusses Legal Online NJ Gambling
Adam Pliska, World Poker Tour president, says the move to Borgata this wyear was meant to highlight the availability of online poker in New Jersey, while also taking advantage of the greater media exposure Atlantic City casinos are getting for the opening of their online portals. Along with Delaware and Nevada, New Jersey is one of three U.S. states which offer legal online gambling.
The size of the field this year will be 328 players. The Borgata will have an overlay on the prize pool, because slightly more players would have been needed to match the minimum requirements. The minimum guaranteed prize pool is $5 million, while the WPT Champion is guaranteed at least $1.3 million in winnings. The casino will dip into the rake from the $15,000+$400 entry fees. The usual entry fee was lowered from $25,000 to $15,000 this year.
- 1st Place – $1,310,146
- 2nd Place – $727,860
- 3rd Place – $452,729
- 4th Place – $363,930
- 5th Place – $286,292
- 6th Place – $235,341
- 7th Place – $189,244
- 8th Place – $143,146
- 9th Place – $97,048
Thirty-six players will finish in the money. The 36th finished will earn $30,085. The $1,310,146 in winnings taken home by this year’s champion will be slightly more than the $1,150,297 won by David “Chino” Rheem for winning the 2012 World Poker Tour Championship Event.
New Jersey Online Qualifiers
As one might expect, some of the entrants are not professionals. This year’s field will have 10 entries who qualified through playing for real money on the Internet. Another 30 poker players qualified through the Borgata Spring Open online event. That event is significant, because New Jersey players who would not have been able to gamble online last year are the ones who qualified with the Borgata Spring Open.
Tom Ballance noted that fact when he said, “The fact that after such a short time we have had people qualifying online says a great deal about the changing face of poker.”
East Coast Professional Poker Players
Ken “Teach” Aldridge will be on hand for the tournament. Aldridge is a professional gambler from Pleasant Gardens, North Carolina. He drove to the World Poker Tour Championship Event this year, something the proximity to his homestate allowed.
Ken Aldridge says he enjoys the lifestyle pro poker has given him, and hopes to do well in this year’s WPT Championship event. Aldridge, who has won over $1 million in live tournaments over the course of his career, said, “I enjoy these tournaments and I’m fairly successful in them. I’m using poker to travel the world. I just got back from Chile.”
The World Poker Tour aired before the Poker Boom created when Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2003. When the American (and world) public became obsessed with televised Texas hold’em and poker live events, it was the WSOP and WPT which were at the forefront of that popularity.
The World Poker Tour continues to air on Fox Sports Net. Previous seasons appeared on Travel Channel and GSN. The 2014 airings will be taped during this month’s event and broadcast for the first time in May 2014.