WPT Championship returns to Bellagio

Apr 11, 2005 4:41 AM

Crowning a 16-tournament third season that awarded $70 plus million in prize money and averaged "a millionaire a week," the World Poker Tour (WPT) will attract the sport’s premiere players to the Bellagio for its season finale WPT World Championship, April 18-24.

The culmination of a record third sason for the hit series on the Travel Channel, the tournament will boast a prize pool of at least $10 million, a potential five-fold increase over WPT’s aeason one championship prize pool.

Last year’s WPT Championship awarded its winner, Martin De Knijff of Stockholm, Sweden, a staggering $2,728,356. At the time, it was the largest prize ever paid to a single-placed finisher in a televised poker tournament.

This year’s WPT World Championship will boast an even larger payday for the winner, estimated at $3.5 million. Hundreds are expected to ante-up the buy-in of $25,000, which is known as one of the priciest tickets in televised poker.

At Bellagio, all eyes will be on the best poker and the best poker players in the world. De Knijff will return to defend his title against a galaxy of established and emerging poker stars including some winners from the WPT’s riveting three years of televised tournaments.

"You couldn’t script a more gripping drama than the one that will be played out at the WPT World Championship this year," says Steve Lipscomb, president and founder of WPT Enterprises. "The field of players has never been better, the stakes have never been higher, and the millions of fans who now follow the WPT on television every Wednesday night can’t wait to see if one of their favorites or an unknown talent will capture the crown. The results are totally unpredictable, and it will be a great ride all the way to the end."

Battling De Knijff will be poker legends Doyle Brunson, T.J. Cloutier, Daniel Negreanu (the tour’s leading money winner thus far), Gus Hansen, Phil Hellmuth Jr., Howard Lederer, Annie Duke, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Scotty Nguyen, Men "The Master" Nguyen, Phil Ivey, Jennifer Harman, Kathy Liebert, Humberto Brenes, John Juanda (one of the season’s most visible players) and many others.

The field also includes rising stars who have made their mark during the World Poker Tour’s first two seasons, including Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari, Phil Laak, Paul Phillips, Clonie Gowen, Isabelle Mercier, and WPT’s 2004 "Player of the Year," Erick Lindgren.

The still-in-progress third season has also produced a new crop of final table regulars and poker faces to watch, among them are:

Alex and Erek Brenes of Costa Rica, brothers of fellow poker star Humberto, who has had his own star turns on the WPT in the last two seasons.

Surinder Sunar, a karate black belt who kicked the competition at a WPT final table this season.

David Williams, who won his entry into last year’s World Series by playing online, and finished second to Greg "Fossilman" Raymer. A student at Southern Methodist University who was also accepted to Harvard and Princeton, Williams will be seen finishing in the money in at least one WPT season three tournament.

Josh Arieh, who finished third after Williams in the 2004 World Series and placed high at one WPT season three final table.

Proving that you can go to school on the pros, 23-year-old John Stoltzman, a University of Wisconsin senior who made a stunning showing at one final table.

Last year, Matt Matros, a Sarah Lawrence grad student, walked away with a cool $706,903 at the championship.

Mike "The Mouth" Matusow, who followed up a final table showing in season two with another in season three.

Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi and Canadian pro Haralobos Voulgaris whose two-hour battle at the L.A. Poker Classic will make for classic poker television this season.

The WPT championship will also feature celebrities including Mena Suvari, David Sutcliffe, and Carlos Bernard who all won their spots with victories in this year’s World Poker Tour Hollywood Home Games, and Ben Affleck, who earned his spot by winning Commerce Casino’s California State Poker Championship No Limit Hold ”˜em event, is expected to amp up the glamour quotient.

Anyone can enter the tournament by anteing up the $25,000 buy-in fee. Another option to nab a coveted spot at the table is by winning a satellite tournament run by the Bellagio or at a WPT satellite tournament affiliate casino across the country. For more information on satellites, aspiring WPT champions can go to: www.worldpokertour.com.

Fans may view the final table at the Bellagio on April 24, with seating available on a first-come, first-serve basis. The tournament will begin at 4 p.m. but it is suggested that fans arrive by 2 p.m. to ensure a spot.

Earlier WPT results at
Bellagio, Las Vegas

No Limit Hold’em, $1,500 buy-in
469 entries $682,000 pool

  1. Mark Boudewijn $222,570
    and a seat in WPT Championship

  2.  Harry Demetriou $118,240

  3. Abraham Gray $62,405

  4. Warren Karp $36,105

  5. John Juanda $26,275

  6. Asher Derei $18,395

  7. Johan Storakers $13,140

  8. Fred Lavassani $10,510

  9. Bennett Cloud $9,195

  10. Billy Corrigan $7,885


No Limit Hold’em, $2,000 buy-in
296 entries $574,000 pool

  1. Marcel Luske $212,070
    and a seat in WPT Championship

  2. Nicholas Marsico $115,235

  3. Daniel Alaei $57,620

  4. Joe Awada $32,950

  5. Cecilia Nordenstam $24,695

  6. Scotty Nguyen $19,205

  7. Lonnie Alexander $13,720

  8. Vadim Trincher $10,975

  9. Mike Lutz $8,780

  10. Las Vegas Ferrand $6,585


No Limit Hold’em, $2,500 buy-in
246 entries, $596,000 pool

  1.  Raja Kattamuri $236,790
    and a seat in WPT Championship

  2. Can Hua $125,630

  3.  Donald Delancy $62,815

  4.  David Levi $34,270

  5.  Erik Sagstrom $25,695

  6. Chris Tsiprailidis $19,985

  7.  John Stolzmann $14,275

  8.  Ken Lennaard $11,420

  9. Allie Prescott $8,780

  10.  Luis Pires $6,855

No Limit Hold’em, $3,000 buy-in
236 entries, $686,000 pool

  1.  David Pham $270,165
    and a seat in WPT Championship

  2. Jean Gaspard $145,475

  3. Sam Oliverio $72,740

  4. Alan Snow $39,670

  5.  Daniel Alaei $29,755

  6.  David Knauff $23,145

  7.  Abraham Gray $16,530

  8. Johan Storakers $13,225

  9.  Horatio Kemeny $10,580

  10.  Greg Debora $7,935