(Mostly) The Real Skinny on the Future of the WPT

Steve Lipscomb speaks of new television partners, revamped biz model, layoffs, etc.

by , Jul 7, 2008 | 4:16 pm

photo: Michele Lewis

WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack and WPT CEO Steve Lipscomb taking in the spectacle of the main event and whatever it may suggest about what’s ahead on the poker horizon.

All WSOP-long I’ve been seeing Lyle Berman and feeling torn between my journalistic ethos and respect for poker etiquette. Here, the guy who has answers to everything everyone wants to know about the future of the World Poker Tour has been anywhere from 10-feet to 100 yards away from me, but I can’t bring myself to approach him mid-tourney or just after a painful bustout to pepper him with questions about whether or not the business he helped build is crumbling. Call me a wussy journo or poker fanboy, but could I really take a chance of putting Mr. Berman on tilt, especially when WPTE stock is trading for less than a dollar a share and he might really need the prize money?

But lo and behold, WPT CEO Steve Lipscomb showed up at the Rio yesterday, and he wasn’t playing! He was just taking his annual tour of the WSOP main event with buddy Jeffrey Pollack … which seemed like a great time to trip him by the shoelaces, pin him down on the ground and shove a recorder in his face while threatening to pop him with a loogie. Alas, no one had a concealed watergun in the pressbox and he was wearing loafers, but still … Lipscomb did sit down with Pokerati for almost a half hour during the main event and give some frank(ish) answers to whatever softballs I could hurl at him.

(NOTE: I didn’t know at the time that the WPT had laid off about 10 people last week and was about to give a few more their walking papers today — but now his comments about hating that part of the job make a little more sense.)

Steve Lipscomb (at the WSOP) on the future of poker and the WPT
June 6, 2008 — Las Vegas


What you don’t hear below …

OK, now here’s the bad part: This was totally impromptu — had about 10 seconds to prepare — and because I’ve hardly used my recorder this WSOP (we’ve been using Pauly’s device for Tao of Pokerati) I must’ve pressed some wrong buttons or something … because the first five or six minutes just ain’t there. Grrr. And of course I wasn’t taking notes because I was too busy pressing buttons on the recorder. So here’s a quick summary of what we talked about during that time — you’ll just have to take my word or wait for Steve Lipscomb to post a comment correcting me:

Dan: So, what’s going on with the WPT?
Steve: Lots of stuff. Reinventing selves. Isn’t the WSOP great? Can’t tell you exactly what the WPT has working in terms of TV deals, but we’re gonna be announcing something about it really soon.
Dan: Really soon like two days or like two months?
Steve: Can’t say, but we were hoping to have it out before the main event, if that tells you anything. [Obvious implications that the deal is probably not with GSN and may or may not be akin to an online poker site time-buy.] Something about time-buys vs. some other television term, something about finding a new broadcast partner …
Dan: Something else, don’t remember what.
Steve: The WSOP really is great … different animal altogether yadda yadda. WPT played a role in making it all possible. Bad beats in the form of the UIGEA and GSN executive overhaul. People saying that the WPT is going away? Balderdash!

That’s where the audio picks up …

12 Comments to “(Mostly) The Real Skinny on the Future of the WPT ”

  1. Kevin Mathers

    Seems that Steve better get hope to get his I’s dotted and T’s crossed, the Bellagio Cup main event starts Friday. Listening to the conversation, it seems that they’re heading back to the old logo policy (which banned all of them, with players being covered with all sorts of colored tape).

    While the WSOP/WPT are the two big brands in the US, the EPT is a strong 3rd, with the APPT/APT looking to come on strong in Asia.

    You also could have asked him why he never updates his TV Week blog.

  2. DanM

    Actually, I think I also left out Full Tilt and PokerStars when talking about the biggest brands in poker.

    We did talk about blogging, but not recorded. Lipscomb and Pollack bantered semi-jokingly about how blogs aren’t as easy as you think they will be, though Jeffrey is updating his about every nine days, which ain’t bad.

    The Bellagio Cup is definitely on and ready to be filmed. Where that tape will go is still the magic question … but I am sure we will get an answer soon enough. It’s not like anyone’s gonna not get enough notice to properly set the Tivo.

  3. shronk

    Hey Dan, it’s shronk. You mind if we use some of this audio on the radio show tomorrow? Obv will give you guys a shoutout and tell people to visit the site.

    Lemme know. prradio@pokerroad.com Thanks.


  4. DanM

    no problem, of course. in fact, you can find a higher-res version at https://pokerati.com/podcast/lipscomb.mp3

  5. Mick

    Sounds like The World Poker Tour is looking for the same websites that they alienated to bail them out. It would be interesting to see if the people that were suing them are now going to turn around and sponsor them. Would Full Tilt and Pokerstars really keep them afloat when the WPT has been trying to compete with them? Why wouldn’t they just buy them out?

  6. olivert

    How about this for the backbone of a new “time buy TV” tour to give WPT a run for its money:


    How about this little nugget: a major operative, who was part of the team that launched a regional tour off the ground with rousing success, has moved himself from Costa Rica to Vancouver.

    That should tell you what is happening behind the scenes.

    With the above info, and your prior knowledge of the name of the company which yanked a portion of its marketing dollars from WPT events in a flash a few months ago, you should be able to eliminate one major potential candidate that is interested in helping WPT buy time.

  7. olivert

    I will be buying a plane ticket for a business trip after the WSOP.

    Destination: Bellingham, Washington.

    Enough hints…

  8. California Jen

    OMG, Oliver, I am so confused by your cryptic comments.

    If anyone would like to interpret, please help.

  9. California Jen

    OMG, Oliver, your cryptic comments are too much.

    Can someone break the Oliver code here?

  10. Kevin Mathers

    I’m going to guess PokerStars (since he’s often talked about them removing commercials from WPT broadcasts).

  11. Poker on TV

    He means PokerStars is starting a North American Poker Tour to go with its European, Asian Pacific, and Latin American ones. They’ll get on US TV via time buys, like the recent PokerStars Caribbean Adventure did.

  12. Poker on TV

    And is he suggesting that FTP may help WPT with US time buys?