The price of poker goes waaay up this month, the WPT Alpha8 series inaugural event is this month at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood.
The tournament, No. 23 of the 33-event Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open, costs $100,000 to enter and will run Aug. 26-27, kicking off a worldwide series of $100,000 buy-in tournaments. Poker tournaments of other ilks usually cost $10,000 or less to enter.
The concept of the players investing $100,000 in a tournament intrigues Ali Nejad, who along with Olivier Busquet will provide commentary. The WPT series will start airing on Fox Sports 1 in March 2014.
“For the viewing public, obviously stakes are what create excitement,” Nejad said. “When you’re playing for Oreos and M&Ms there’s a little less drama.”
The tournament is expected to draw two types of players: The really good pros and the rich businessmen, who like to play for high stakes.
“The thing I’m interested in seeing is while many of the poker players are certainly qualified to do so financially they’re not in the same situation as the businessmen,” he said. “We’re talking billionaires, and some might be taking a nonchalant, recreational attitude. That’s not to say they’re not competitive, but let’s face it, they’re not going to have the money weigh on them in the way it might on the professionals.”
Nejad, who has been an announcer for NBC’s “Poker After Dark” and the “National Heads-Up Poker Challenge,” said full-time players are going to require a little composure, a lot of adjustment and it could affect play.
“It could compromise their ability to render decisions,” Nejad said, noting that, ironically, the players are likely entered in the event because they view the rich businessmen as easy money. “The reality is it’s going to be looming closer in their background than that of the businessmen.”
Nejad complimented the WPT for “making a commitment unlike any show has to broaden the content to include the lifestyle,” especially at a time when poker on TV has slipped with the shutdown of online poker in the United States.
“So much that happens at a tournament is ancillary to the event itself,” Nejad said. “They’re gambling as they fly in, either on golf or poker, or Chinese poker or what time the plane will land.”
He said the WPT will look to showcase and exhibit the entire lifestyle.
“You have a colorful cast of characters and you put them into a city or a casino and there’s no shortage of interesting stories,” he said.
Viewers will be able to watch the final table streamed live on www.WPT.com on Aug. 27. The SHRPO $10 Million Guaranteed Championship Event will run August 22-28. Viewers also can watch live streaming action of the SHRPO series at www.seminolehardrockpokeropen.com.
“Showcasing the world’s poker elite and featuring multimillion dollar prize pools, Alpha8 represents the highest televised treatment of super high roller tournament poker to date. Playing out over a global stage, this series will give audiences insight into the intensity and skill demanded at the sport’s highest levels,” said Adam Pliska, WPT president.