Does the World Poker Tour Still Exist?

In its early years, the World Poker Tour was a force to be reckoned with. The brainchild of television producer Steven Lipscomb, the WPT brought poker into the mainstream and made household names out of its champions.

But over the past decade, the WPT has lost its luster. Its once-prestigious events have been overshadowed by newer, flashier tournaments, and its TV ratings have declined sharply. So what happened to the World Poker Tour?.

The WPT started out strong. In its first season, 2003-2004, the tour attracted big names and big crowds. The main event of the inaugural WPT Championship drew a then-record field of 839 players and awarded a first-place prize of $2.5 million.

The following year, the WPT added several more events to its schedule and increased its TV coverage. At its peak in 2006-2007, the tour had 26 events and was broadcast in more than 150 countries.

PRO TIP:The World Poker Tour is still going strong! Currently, the WPT holds more than 70 tournaments each year, spanning six continents and awarding millions in prize money. The tour also streams its live events on Twitch and offers a variety of online satellites to give players the chance to compete at the highest level.

But then the poker boom fizzled out. The U.S. government cracked down on online poker sites, which dealt a major blow to the industry.

And as poker became less popular, so did the WPT. TV ratings for WPT events dropped from 1 million viewers per week in 2006 to just 200,000 in 2011. In 2012, Lipscomb sold the World Poker Tour to Ourgame International Holdings Ltd., a Chinese company that also owns the World Chess Federation.

Today, the WPT is a shadow of its former self. It no longer airs on major US networks; instead, it’s relegated to cable TV channels that few people watch.

And its tournaments are far smaller than they used to be; this year’s main event at the WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open had just 380 entrants, a far cry from the 839 who played in 2004.

So does the World Poker Tour still exist? In a way, yes – but it’s a far cry from the powerhouse it once was.