Can Antonio Esfandiari Save the WPT?

by , Feb 22, 2008 | 5:35 pm

That’s what it seems like they’re banking on — you know, along with restructuring tournament operations and slimming down staff. Steve Lipscomb just announced today at a press conference (at the Commerce in LA?) that Antonio the WPT-Made Millionaire will be the new face of the World Poker Tour.

And despite the reduced schedule, the WPT also apparently has a WPT-Europe in the works. Should be interesting to see how this all shakes out over the course of 2008. My prediction is that the WPT will, several years from now, be seen as the AFL* of Poker.

* And by AFL I mean American Football League, not the other AFL that looks out for the hard-workin’ little guy.

5 Comments to “Can Antonio Esfandiari Save the WPT?”

  1. California Jen

    Yes, Dan, it was at the Commerce Casino in L.A. Remember when I called and said I was in nightmare traffic after waiting 30 minutes for my car that the valet lost? That conversation was only several hours ago. Are you ok? 😉

  2. Kevin Mathers

    It makes sense that they use someone popular like Antonio, but he hasn’t made a final table of a non-special WPT event in almost 4 years. Looking at the video on their website, it’s sort of quaint that you can finish 3rd at a WPT event and only win $44k (for a 3k buyin). I’d love to see the strategy of how the WPT Europe will succeed. I’m sure “Anon” will be glad to enlighten us on the various casinos that would seem to be an option for this venture. The way things are going, it’s more likely they’ll be the USFL of poker unless things turn around soon.


  3. DanM

    Yes, Jen, I do remember you being in traffic. How else do you think I could scoop you with your own information?!? Just wasn’t positive I had the venue right. But thanks for verifying.

    Kev, you bring up a good point with top-heavy prize structures. I suppose the WPT loves the multi-million-dollars on the line for the TV cameras.

    For example, check out the payouts for the $25k WPT Championship:

    How is it that you can finish in the top 1 percent such a big buy-in tourney (with 600+ entrants) and win only $300k? And the guy who finishes five places higher than you wins $4 million?

  4. Kevin Mathers


    To be honest, that wasn’t my intention, i just thought I was showing how far the WPT that to make the top 3 and “only” win 44k (btw, 1st in that tournament was 146k). If you look at WPT Bellagio events, Jack McCelland is famous for his payout structures (paying many spots, with extremely top heavy payouts). Imagine a tournament that cost 25k to enter, getting 108 entrants (like the 1st WPT World Championship) and paying 28 (two eliminated in 27th). You just don’t see any casino/cardroom having a payout that deep.


  5. DanM

    You are right, KM, and that is pretty cool — paying 25 percent of the field. But I still think they should restructure the payouts a bit so there is not so much disparity at the top of the prize pool.

    In the WPT Championship, for example, what if they shaved $1 mm off first place? Would that be so bad — $3 mm for the win? I don’t think so … and would allow them to pay out the places behind it a little better.

    Just a slight tweaking to their prize structure would go a long way, imho.