WPT Alpha8 struggles in London

London leg of the £100k WPT Alpha8 tour draws a disappointing 20 players

The second leg of the WPT’s new ultra-high stakes tournament tour, the Alpha8, is currently ongoing in London’s Palm Beach casino. The plush Mayfair casino is a fitting location for the astronomical £100,000 entry tournament but, with only 20 players competing, questions already surround the longevity of the WPT’s latest venture. The first Alpha8 tournament, held in Florida in August, attracted 21 players and that figure has slightly dropped in London with just 20 runners. 

Those 20 included many of the game’s best players such as Viktor ‘Isildur1’ Blom, Sam Trickett and Erik Seidel. A swathe of German super high rollers, including Tobias Reinkemeier, Phillip Gruissem and Max Altergott, were also predictably out in force. However, can a tournament series really continue in the long-term with such minuscule numbers attending? The £100k buy-in is both the appeal and also the detriment of the entire Alpha8 concept. While each tournament is being filmed for a delayed TV release, there is also a question over the appeal these shows will have too. Poker insiders and experts know that players such as Altergott and Gruissem are world-class but to the average poker fan they are essentially nobodies.

The tournaments don’t have the prestige yet, or the numbers, to attract the likes of Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu that the masses wish to see. The £100k buy-in essentially reduces Alpha8 events to a two-table sit-and-go filled with great players and lacking in much value, aside from a few businessmen happy to take a punt. It’s interesting stuff for the hardcore poker fan that is aware of all the names competing and can appreciate the intricate play – but for the wider audience, which the WPT is surely looking to attract, the Alpha8 is still nothing more than a curiosity. 

The London event is currently playing out to a finish and ten players remain. The chipleader is Tobias Reinkemeier, with Viktor Blom and Tony G hot on his heels. Live updates can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/Alpha8London. The winner will receive £862,000.

PokerPlayer would love to see the WPT Alpha8 become a huge success, and there is a gap in the tournament market for a high stakes prestigious poker tour. However, in order to be that leader the field sizes must grow and more marquee names must be enticed to play. Otherwise it’s hard to envision the Alpha8 surviving in the long-term. 


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