BT Sports Broadcasts WPT in UK and Ireland
Early this February, the World Poker Tour (WPT) announced a new distribution deal with BT Sport. The deal will ensure that season XV of the WPT will be broadcast across the various BT Sports channels, including BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and BT Sport 3. As a result of the partnership, millions of households across the United Kingdom and Ireland will be able to watch the competition.
Rich Sarris, Manager of Content Distribution in the United Kingdom for the World Poker Tour, pushed hard to get the deal done. After the official announcement, Sarris stated, “The World Poker Tour is thrilled to be partnering with one of the largest sports television networks in the UK in BT Sport.”
The WPT believed the TV deal will play a vital role in the continued expansion of the Tour across the globe and will help bring the contest to a new audience. The poker competition will play alongside BT Sports’s coverage of the Premier League (52 live matches per season until 2022), Champions League, FA Cup and more.
The WPT has been around since 2002 and played a key role in launching the global poker boom through its creation of a television show that broadcasts the high-stakes poker tournaments. WPT events have been broadcast in more than 150 countries and territories and the WPT is currently in its 16th season.
Drama Filled Season XV of the World Poker Tour
The fifteenth season of the World Poker Tour took place from 2016-2017 and featured twenty-one different events spanning six countries. The season of the Tour, hailed as “one of the most exciting seasons in the history of the World Poker Tour” by Johnny McMahon, VP of WPT Studios, was significant for a few reasons.
During the comp, German-born Benjamin Zamani led an incredible run to win the WPT’s Player of the Year Award. Sam Panzica’s two notable victories (WPT best bet Bounty Scramble, WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star) were impressive but were only enough to secure the second position in the WPT’s Player of the Year Leaderboard. Mike Sexton, former commentator for the WPT recorded his first ever career WPT victory at the partypoker.net Montreal competition. All of these occurrences will be broadcast for UK and Irish audiences across BT Sports networks.
Perhaps the most significant victory occurred at the Tour’s fourteenth event, in which Ema Zajmovic, who Sexton has described as a “combo of Phil Ivey and Vanessa Selbst,” became the first woman to win an open WPT event . Zajmovic finished atop a field of 380 entries in the event. After the victory, the young poker player said, “Honestly, I am really happy that I proved women can do it.” The prize for winning the $3,500 buy-in event was $200,769 and a seat at the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions (invite only).
WPT Sets its Sights on Europe
The WPT’s expansion into the European market does not begin and end with its BT Sports TV deal. Just this week, the WPT agreed upon another partnership with 888poker , the online poker room operated by 888 Holdings. The deal will last for three years.
888poker will sponsor two new events in the 2019 WPTDeepStacks Europe schedule. The events will take place in Malta and Portugal. In addition, the online poker room will facilitate online qualifiers for both poker competitions. The VP of WPT Europe said, “[the WPT has no doubt the addition of 888poker will greatly increase visibility…across Europe.”
888poker has over 10 million registered members worldwide and is the fastest growing online poker room. A new player signs up about every 12 seconds. Numbers like these suggest that the partnership between 888 and WPT will be lucrative for both parties.
Deepstack tournaments are an innovative way to improve the playing experience for mid-level and amateur players. Players start with a much higher number of chips and the blinds tend to increase at a much slower pace than they would at a normal tournament (15+minutes). This allows players to play for a longer period of time, and in theory, reduces the amount of luck or variance one experiences throughout a competition (more skill based).
Upcoming European WPTDeepStacks competitions take place on March 14 (Barcelona), March 28 (Amsterdam) and April 11 (Malta).