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Pro poker tour debuts

Nov 16, 2004 12:44 AM

When the initial Professional Poker Tour (PPT) final table is concluded on Friday night at Foxwoods Resort Casino, only one player will be able to say that he or she captured the very first victory in this exclusive league for professional poker players.

Backers believe that’s like saying you won the first PGA tournament in history, or ensnared the first Wimbledon title.

In addition to being entitled to bragging rights and becoming the latest answer on the next generation of Trivial Pursuit, the winner will go home with $200,000, a $25,000 seat to the World Poker Tour World Championship and some serious respect from the poker world.

The All-Star player line-up, which includes champions from World Poker Tour (WPT), World Series of Poker, and European poker competitions will ensure that the competition is fierce.

Launched by WPT Enterprises, Inc. (WPTE), the creator of the World Poker Tour, the Professional Poker Tour reflects the evolution of poker as a sport. The tournament at Foxwoods is the first of five that will offer a total sponsored prize pool of $2.5 million over the inaugural 2004-2005 Season.

The preliminary rounds were played Nov. 9-10, with the final table filmed before a live audience on Friday, Nov. 19. The public is invited to watch the final table as part of the studio audience, and attend a PPT viewing party.

After its debut at Foxwoods in November, the Professional Poker Tour will move on to Commerce Casino (Los Angeles), Bellagio (Las Vegas), and The Mirage (Las Vegas) in season one of the tour.

Whereas anyone can play on the WPT, only the game’s professional elite that qualify will compete on the PPT. To be eligible to play on the Professional Poker Tour, players must have proven themselves in past poker competition: By winning or making a final table at a WPT event or a WPT Championship, by scoring as a top 10 point leader in WPT Player-of-the-Year rankings, by winning or placing highly in the $10,000 buy-in event at the World Series of Poker, by securing a spot on either Card Player Magazine’s Card Player of the Year Top 10 or Poker Europa’s Top 10, or by being a member of the Poker Hall of Fame.

"By launching the PPT, we are raising the bar on professional poker," said Steve Lipscomb, president of WPTE. "We are assembling the masters of the game in one place to face each other. Throughout the course of a season, five will prevail — and will stand atop their profession. We’re looking for poker’s first MVP."

Among the players on the PPT roster whose names will be recognizable to poker fans are: Doyle Brunson, Howard Lederer, Phil Ivey, Johnny Chan, Annie Duke, Phil Hellmuth, Gus Hansen, Phil Gordon, Men "The Master" Nguyen, Chris Moneymaker, Antonio Esfandiari, Bobby Baldwin, Daniel Negreanu, Chris "Jesus" Ferguson, Jennifer Harman, David "Devilfish" Ulliott, Samy Farha, Mel Judah, Scotty Nguyen, Erick Lindgren, Phil "The Unabomber" Laak, Huck Seed, Tom McEvoy, Layne Flack, Carlos Mortensen, Chip Reese, Erick Seidel, Lyle Berman, Kathy Liebert, T.J. Cloutier, and Linda Johnson.

For more information on the Professional Poker Tour or WPTE, please visit www.worldpokertour.com.