WPT to Close Season XIX with Bellagio Five Diamond
The current World Poker Tour season is nearly over. For the first time, the season didn’t run its normal course. Most years, a WPT season ran from mid-summer of one year to late spring of the next year. This year, however, Season XIX will end this month after only starting in mid-May. The WPT Bellagio Five Diamond World Poker Classic will wrap the season early.
Last year – the year of the pandemic – forced so many normal World Poker Tour stops to be cancelled or postponed. That was the start of rethinking the WPT seasons. In addition, the WPT is preparing to celebrate its 20th season – Season XX. It seems that they want it to run from the beginning to the end of the year, and that will be the case in 2022.
There may also be some changes as the World Poker Tour sets out on a new path. In July of this year, Allied Esports Entertainment sold the WPT and related poker assets to Element Partners. WPT executives have been mum regarding what it all means, even as to who is actually behind Element Partners. Expect some announcements and revelations in the months to come…I’m guessing. The new ownership combined with Season XX starting in January will likely come into focus as a literal new season for the World Poker Tour.
WPT VP of Global Tour Management Angelica Hael only hinted at what is to come. “We are thrilled to be able to finish our season with a showcase event with one of our longest running partners. From there, we are ready to head into Season XX and put an even bigger spotlight on our partners, our champions, and our tour.”
When we last checked in with the World Poker Tour, it had just offered two online series. The WPT World Online Championships on partypoker ran through mid-September, and Rok Gostisa of Slovenia emerged as the Main Event champion.
And around that same time, the WPT Online Borgata Series ran with partypoker US Network for players in New Jersey. The WPT Main Event missed its $1M guarantee but ran a solid event with 305 entries and Orson Young as the winner.
The next tournament on the schedule had been WPT Maryland at Live! Casino for late September. However, with so many pandemic uncertainties still looming, the casino cancelled the event long before its scheduled start date. That left just two events on the calendar: WPT Seminole and WPT Five Diamond.
Large Turnout in Florida
The WPT Seminole Rock ‘N’ Roll Poker Open took players down to Florida just after the WSOP finished up in Las Vegas. The entire festival of tournaments actually started on November 18, but the Main Event began on November 26. The $3,500 buy-in carried a $2M guarantee and unlimited reentries allowed.
The significant numbers of players at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida, threw all previous estimates out the window. The two starting days resulted in 1,566 entries and a $5,011,200 prize pool. That was enough to pay the top 196 finishers at least $5,265 and reserve more than $778K for the winner.
Such an incredible turnout for the @WPT RRPO Championship! The record-setting 1,566 entries blasted the $2,000,000 GTD and put up a prize pool worth $5,011,200. The last 196 spots will be paid with a massive $778,490 up top.
So many big numbers!
— Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open (@shrpo) November 28, 2021
Day 2 brought 455 first-flight survivors back to the tables. But a very fast day of action burt the money bubble and left only 63 players to bag chips at the end of that night. Day 3 saw the eliminations of players like Luke Martinelli, Ren Lin, Frank Funaro, Nate Silver, and Nick Yunis. Only 15 survived, with Scott Levitt holding a massive chip stack and lead. A man named Gediminas Uselis was one of the shorter stacks but still had 60 big blinds with which to work.
Day 4 started with the 15th place elimination of Kristen Bicknell for $40,860. Levitt took a wrong turn and busted in 13th place. Joseph Cheong departed in tenth for $79,630, and Willie Wiggins busted on the final table bubble with $139,610 to ease the pain.
— World Poker Tour (@WPT) December 1, 2021
The final table began on December 1 with Harout Ghazarian in the lead but Jacob Ferro close behind. Clayton Maguire followed, with Gediminas Uselis next, Selahaddin Bedir next, and Anshul Rai had a very short stack. Rai did, in fact, move his few big blinds all in on the first hand, and Ghazarian busted him.
It was then that Uselis started surging ahead. Maguire eliminated Bedir in fifth place just 20 hands into the day, By the first break, Ghazarian had only a slight lead over Ferro, and Uselis was still climbing. Ferro took over the chip lead, though, as Bedir kept falling. Ferro busted him in fourth place. And in a big turn of events, Uselis busted Ghazarian in third place.
Ferro took 31.9M chips into heads-up, but Uselis was nearby with 30.7M. Uselis played an aggressive game, though. By the 102nd hand, Ferro trailed and pushed with jacks. It just so happened that Uelis had queens, Uselis claimed victory.
-1st place: Gediminas Uselis ($778,490)
-2nd place: Jacob Ferro ($573,605)
-3rd place: Harout Ghazarian ($380,000)
-4th place: Selahaddin Bedir ($282,380)
-5th place: Clayton Maguire ($211,925)
-6th place: Anshul Rai ($170,835)
— World Poker Tour (@WPT) December 3, 2021
WPT Bellagio Begins This Week
As mentioned, the World Poker Tour will close out its Season XIX with its collaboration with the Bellagio in Las Vegas. The Five Diamond World Poker Classic Main Event will run December 15-19. There is only one starting day, but late registration will remain open until the start of Level 10, which will be after the start of Day 2.
The buy-in of $10K is larger than other WPT stops but has always been the price for the Five Diamond Main Event. And players do come out for it. This time, though, the final table won’t play at Bellagio. Rather, it will travel down the Las Vegas Strip to the HyperX Esports Arena at the Luxor Casino on December 19. The WPT will film the final table for a 2022 broadcast on Bally Sports.
WPT President and CEO Adam Pliska noted, “The Bellagio holds special significant for the World Poker Tour. The Five Diamond World Poker Classic was the first World Poker Tour event, and it seems fitting to finish our current season there before launching our historical 20th season in January.”
— World Poker Tour (@WPT) December 7, 2021