WPT Europe

by , Feb 22, 2008 | 8:28 pm

Has a familiar ring to it, eh?

It seems that the World Poker Tour is in the process of creating some type of WPT Europe, in addition to the WPT schedule that pretty much stays within the U.S. border with the one exception of Canada. The WPT signed an agreement, the details of which are yet to be released, with Group Perelada in Spain.

In today’s press conference, Steve Lipscomb only touched on the subject but said the following:

“We are expanding our presence in Europe and other international markets as we go into the online gaming space, and as we do that, we’re taking those markets piece by piece… This year, we’re going to do a WPT Europe event. We’re going to be doing regional tours similar to what we’re doing in China… Those audiences, as we understand, are very hungry for programming as they grow their own poker world, and we’re going to help them and grow it together.”

9 Comments to “WPT Europe”

  1. Owen Laukkanen

    Eh, honestly PokerStars and the EPT already do tournament poker in Europe (and, with the APPT, worldwide) substantially better than anything the WPT can produce. Lipscomb claiming to be ready to “grow” poker in Europe and other international markets is either evidence of his own ignorance or a weak rationalization of his desire to move in on Stars’/EPT’s/APPT’s/LAPT’s turf. The era of the WPT being the global poker ambassador is over; Lipscomb & Co would be better served focusing on improving the North American product, imo.

  2. DanM

    Perhaps that’s what the WPT is setting up — future partnership with the EPT and/or APPT?

    Those ops have the solid tournament thing down … and the WPT knows a bit about putting them on TV. Could be a win-win … or even a win-win-win (third win being for the players) … if greed doesn’t get in the way.

  3. anon

    The WPT “regional tours” outside North America will not necessary be based on Texas Hold’em.

    For example, WPT attached its brand to the government-run China National TuoLaJi (Traktor) Tour (WPT paid the China Leisure Sports Administrative Center of the China State General Administration for Sport USD$3 million over 5 years for the privilege).

    TuoLaJi, which has pockets of popularity in Shanghai and Beijing, is a derivative of Bridge, not poker.

    Not to be outdone, PokerStars.net is sponsoring a DouDiZhu (Landlord) tournament in GuangZhou (a.k.a. Canton, which is about 75 miles north of Hong Kong) this weekend.

    DouDiZhu is another derivative of Bridge, but played by individuals rather than 2-man teams. DouDiZhu is the card games of choice in ChongQing (a.k.a. ChungKing), China’s biggest city with a population of over 30 million.


    It’ll be interesting to see to which Spanish card game WPT ends up attaching its brand.

  4. anon

    One thing to remember: government-run “sports” events usually do NOT command any TV rights fees on government-owned sports TV channels in mainland China.

    Most domestic “sports” events that air on central government-owned free-to-air sports channel China Central Television Channel 5 (CCTV5) get on CCTV5 on a barter or time-buy basis.

    Not even the NBA gets a rights fee to get its games on CCTV5.

    (About the only thing that CCTV5 will pay a rights fee to a foreign rightsholder is international soccer, i.e. the World Cup and European Championship.)

    The jury is definitely still out on how WPT can ever make any money on its TuoLaJi project in China.

  5. anon

    > Perhaps that’s what the WPT is setting up — future partnership with the EPT and/or APPT?

    No, Dan.

    WPT wants to attach its brand onto various regional card games around the world, produce televised tournaments for those card games, and to sell advertising and sponsorships for those televised tournaments.

    WPT China National TuoLaJi (Traktor) Tour was the first of the “new” WPT efforts.

    The “new” WPT is all about brand licensing.

  6. Anonymous Asshole

    To Jen’s point…..

    In today’s world, when any business is 6-7 years into an evolution of sorts, you can clearly make the case that:

    (1) The WPT has an audience
    (2) It truly helped bring poker to a new group of U.S. consumers via the Travel Channel (likely has smaller ratings/audience with GSN)
    (3) The competitors have seized the lack of focus in Europe by the WPT. The WPT had other issues to deal with like “SURVIVING.” I’ll use the $1 stock price as that proxy. Single digit midget stocks (<=$3) are that price for a reason, people are concerned re: their long-term prospects and ability to generate cash flow.

    Look, the WPT had growing pains and lets recognize it. They took their eye off the ball and, while they did that, new competitors emerged to create a comparable tour yet in a different geographic part of the world. It is a “me too” strategy that is replicated world-wide, industry after industry. Now, the real question for those “in the know” is this.

    1) Is the “growth faze” over for the industry in Europe or is there more room for growth?
    2) Is there room in a market for 3-4 competitors? I would guess most likely not, at least in the form of ENORMOUSLY profitable and visible businesses.
    3) Who has the first mover advantage? First movers typically get 40%-60% market share with the #2 competitor getting 20%-30% and 3rd getting 10%-20%. Industry after industry shows this over the long-term as consolidation occurs….Lets differentiate between online and casino events too as the audiences are different.
    4) Do the business groups like each other? Do mgmt teams hate each other or is there a healthy rivalry? Long-term, this can lead to mergers/acquistions. Remember, the WPT is a public company and, if the cash flow / economics make sense for both parties the EPT or WPT can “cash out” and let the other take over at some time.
    5) In reference to point #4, does the WPT have a strength that the EPT or PokerStars doesn’t? Are their production skills superior to the EPT/PokerStars for broadcasting events?

    Just something to chew on…..I look at this issue from a COMPLETELY different angle folks as I have worked/consulted with CEOs/Presidents of companies. Either Lipscomb is a tad “naive” thinking he can grow to be #1 (when the U.S. $$$ is weak) or he is positioning the company to create a “win-win” type of scenario down the line with another competitor.

    AA out!

  7. Dan M

    Awesome, TuoLaJirati.com is available!

  8. Dan M

    To answer Mr. Ahole:

    1) they are in the middle of the growth phase in Europe. It still has some legs before Asia becomes where the real dollars are transacting.

    2) I think the burger business would disagree with you. There seems to be room for McDonald’s, Burger King, Jack in the Box, Wendy’s, Carl’s Jr., In-n-Out Burger, Fuddruckers, et al. Definitely enormously profitable.

    3) PokerStars clearly has the first-mover advantage in Europe. Though watch out for PartyPoker, who have also been making some moves, particularly in the TV area.

    4) Everyone is in bed with everyone in poker, though there seem to be stronger loyalties to online rooms than brick-and-mortar brands. Lyle Berman and Mike Sexton play in the WSOP, for example. Everybody hates everybody, too.

    5) Good question.

  9. anon

    Interesting to see the significant drop in attendance at the LA Poker Classic in 2008 compared to 2007.

    2007: 791 players
    2008: 665 players

    Difference: -126 players, or -15.9%

    The EPT event at Copenhagen, which sold out all 460 seats, no doubt siphoned off many Europe-based players who chose not to make the trip to LA this year.

    At this point in time, WPT may be better off attaching its brand to some other Spanish or European card game instead of trying to fight the Texas Hold’em battle against two much bigger entities, namely PokerStars.net/EPT and Harrah’s/WSOP Europe.