For years, the World Poker Tour has bypassed the United Kingdom, despite a strong British interest in the game and wealth of poker talent emerging from the island, but that has finally changed, with the commencement of the inaugural WPT London, which kicked off on Sunday.
The £5,000 + £300 buy-in championship event started Monday, drawing not only the biggest names in British poker, such as James Akenhead, Luke Schwartz and recent WSOP bracelet winner Praz Bansi, but star names from the rest of the world too – Phil Ivey, Erik Seidel, Huck Seed and Tony G all showed up to Mayfair’s Palm Beach casino, for Day 1A.
It took little over half an hour for an action hand, despite the deepstack structure of the event, as two players found themselves all-in, both holding pocket aces. No bad beat appeared though and the gathered crowd quickly dissipated.
It was Seidel who topped the chip counts when play came to a close, with226,200 in chips – almost 40,000 clear of nearest rival Talal Shakerchi. Seidel had earlier been presented with an award for making his 100th appearance in a World Poker Tour event, something which might well have inspired his impressive performance at the WPT’s newest venue. Phil Ivey also put in a good showing, sitting fourth in chips as Day 1A closed for business.
The turnout for WPT London’s Championship Event was far lower than expected, with just 72 players stumping up the buy-in for the first day’s poker, but hopes are higher for Day 1B, which starts Tuesday afternoon, as players are eliminated from the EPT event over in Portugal. Late registrations are available, which should also help to raise the numbers. In any case, what WPT London lacks in quantity, it makes up for with quality.
The final table of the WPT London Championship Event will take place on Saturday, but not before the High Roller tournament starts on Friday – a £15,000 buy-in No Limit Hold’em event which organisers hope will attract some of the best poker players in the world.
The conclusion of WPT London will not mark the end of the world class poker action on the local felt though, by any stretch. September will prove a busy month for England’s capital city, as the English Poker Open will run from September 11th to 14th, followed by the World Series of Poker Europe from September 14th to 28th and the PokerStars EPT rolls into town on the 29th.
Stay tuned for the latest poker news from around the world.