February 11, 2021
The World Poker Tour may have been back in vintage form last month with a field of more than 1,500 turning up in Florida, but it will continue this month in decidedly non-vintage form: on an Asia-based app.
The WPT Spring Festival is set to begin today with the first of 13 numbered events as part of a series that’s scheduled to stretch from Feb. 11-22.
Perhaps most interestingly, all of the tournaments will take place on the Poker King app. All of the buy-ins are denoted in Chinese yuan, and the total guarantee offered will be ¥12 million (~$1.85 million). The bulk of that comes from the ¥2,000 (~$300) Main Event, which features a ¥10,000,000 (~$1.54 million) guarantee.
Angelica Hael, VP of global tour management of the WPT, called it a “first-of-its-kind” event in a January presser.
The Main Event kicks off Feb. 17 and looks to feature a slow structure as it’s scheduled to include three starting flights, a Day 2, a Day 3, and a livestreamed final table on Feb. 22 to close out the series. PokerNews was told the livestream will look similar to those used by the WPT for several 2020 online events.
They’ll need 5,000 entries to meet the lofty guarantee. In addition to sponsored players Tom Dwan and Phil Ivey, celebrities promised to be participating include actor Andy Milonakis and NBA legend Allen Iverson. Knockouts of select players will be worth ¥1,500 (~$230).
It’s unclear whether the winner will get a place on the Champion’s Cup. PokerNews was told only that the WPT Spring Festival falls under the company’s “Special Event” category similar to some of the online events from 2020.
In addition to the Main Event, there’s a ¥10,000 (~$1,500) High Roller with a ¥400,000 (~$62,000) guarantee, a ¥600 (~$92) WPT Kickoff Event with a ¥500,000 (~$77,000) guarantee, and a ¥200 (~$31) WPT Mini Main Event with another ¥500,000 guarantee.
WPT Spring Festival Schedule — Numbered Event Starting Days
Feb. 112:30 p.m.#1: ¥600 WPT Kickoff Event¥500,000
Feb. 122:30 p.m.#2: ¥300 NLHE PKO Event (6max)¥40,000
Feb. 132:30 p.m.#3: ¥300 Monster Stack Turbo¥200,000
Feb. 142:30 p.m.#4: ¥200 WPT Mini Main Event Day 1a¥500,000
6:30 p.m.#5: ¥200 PLO Deepstack (6max)¥40,000
Feb. 152:30 p.m.#4: ¥200 WPT Mini Main Event Day 1b¥500,000
Feb. 166:30 p.m.#6: ¥200 Short Deck PKO (6max)¥40,000
Feb. 172:30 p.m.#10: ¥2,000 Main Event Day 1a¥10,000,000
6:30 p.m.#7: ¥300 NLHE Deepstack Hyper¥50,000
Feb. 182:30 p.m.#10: ¥2,000 Main Event Day 1b¥10,000,000
6:30 p.m.#8: ¥220 PLO Progressive Knockout¥40,000
Feb. 192:30 p.m.#10: ¥2,000 Main Event Day 1b¥10,000,000
6:30 p.m.#9: ¥500 Short Deck Championship¥70,000
Feb. 206:30 p.m.#11: ¥10,000 High Roller¥400,000
8 p.m.#12: ¥400 NLHE Heads Up¥50,000
Feb. 212:30 p.m.#13: ¥300 NLHE Finale Event¥100,000
What is Poker King and Who Can Play?
Of course, many players will attempt to search for the Poker King app in hopes of participating in the WPT Spring Festival. After all, it’s not often a $1.5 million prize pool is available at the touch of a button for the affordable price of $300.
However, many will likely be disappointed.
“The Poker King app is available on the Poker King network in various Asian regions which players can see by visiting the platform,” the WPT said when asked about the app’s availability. “The platform is entirely mobile based at the current time.”
A site rep on TwoPlusTwo was more explicit in a posting from last June:
“If you are NOT a Chinese, Vietnamese, or Thai citizen or permanent resident that has your own bank card you can NOT play.”
According to the site’s “About” section, it’s licensed in the Philippines and dates from 2018. It claims 1.2 million registered users and 100,000 players online, a figure that wouldn’t look punt compared to some of the biggest online rooms in the world.
Is this the Beginning of a Trend, Paying Off $10M?
The recent sale of the WPT also came with a clause that up to $10 million additional cash will be paid by new owners Element Partners LLC to the sellers, money that will come from “WPT-branded tournament entry fees on Element-owned or licensed gaming platforms.” That money is due over the three years following closing.
Is this such an event? If so, this could be the beginning of a series of events on Poker King in an effort to pay off that sum. PokerNews inquired as to whether Poker King was associated with Element.
“The company is currently going through the closing process and is legally restricted from commenting beyond the press release,” came the response.