WPT sizzles at Bellagio

Apr 17, 2003 1:28 AM

Hot off a sizzling debut, The World Poker Tour, a 13-week series on The Travel Channel, will film its championship event this week at the Bellagio, a $25,000 buy-in per player, the richest in poker history!

The Championship episode, which will air in June, is attracting poker’s most elite and colorful pro players, but under the format created by the World Poker Tour (WPT), anyone with a cool $25,000 can claim a spot at the table.

More than 50 players are already signed up and the estimated prize pool at the start of the tourney at the opulent Bellagio is expected to be $2 million to $3 million.

The tournament will feature all of the drama that has hooked viewers across the nation. "We are very excited about the World Poker Tour series on the Travel Channel and the significant increases in viewership we’ve experienced since the series premiere at the end of March," said Travel Channel General Manager Steve Cheskin. "The success of the series shows that poker makes for good television ”” and that’s a testament to the World Poker Tour’s unique and compelling format."

By bringing viewers inside high stakes poker tournaments filmed in exotic casino locations throughout the world and using state-of-the-art technology to reveal the cards held by the world’s elite poker players, the World Poker Tour has turned a popular card game into a must-watch spectator sport with millions of dollars on the table.

With the record buy-in, the series finale and championship, taping April 18th at the Bellagio, marks a high point in the game. For players who are confident of their skills, the estimated multimillion-dollar pool is well worth the risk.

"We’re thrilled with the early ratings success of the World Poker Tour series," said World Poker Tour CEO Steve Lipscomb. "The series’ success further emboldens our feeling that we’re on the crest of a wave ”” with the best yet to come.

"Poker is a hugely popular pastime with an estimated 40-50 million players nationwide," he continued. "However, poker as a primetime television series is brand new, and it is clearly resonating with audiences."

Viewers don’t have to wait for the dramatic series finale that will air on June 25, from 9-11 p.m. to see heart- and wallet-wrenching poker action. World Poker Tour tournaments air on Wednesdays on the Travel Channel at 9 p.m., and remaining episodes take audiences to some of the most famous casinos and card rooms in the world.

The World Poker Tour is a global series of 13 poker tournaments united under one banner for television. The WPT will widen the television audience for poker by injecting high concept, cutting-edge television production values into the dramatic world of high-stakes, upscale, tournament poker.

The World Poker Tour is a joint venture between Steven Lipscomb and Lakes Entertainment, Inc.