Flashback Friday: Reliving the North American Poker Tour
With the two-year anniversary of PokerStars back in the United States, we thought it would be apropos to feature the North American Poker Tour (NAPT) in this week’s Flashback Friday. The NAPT was a spinoff of the successful European Poker Tour (EPT), which saw one and a half seasons played from 2010-2011 before the series was suspended.
Season 1 had seven events on the schedule with two events at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas, two events at the Venetian in Las Vegas, two events at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut, and NAPT Los Angeles from the Bicycle Casino in L.A.
The tour was a way for North American players to satellite their way into PokerStars-run events and a place where young players made a name for themselves.
Canadians Will Molson and Matt Marafioti both final-tabled the second event in Season 1: the $25,500 PCA High Roller event. Marafioti finished in seventh place for $87,465 while Molson finished as the runner up to William Reynolds, receiving $322,075.
The NAPT was also a place where PokerStars found talent in the form of professional ambassadors. Vanessa Selbst and Jason Mercier both captured titles in Season One. Selbst won the $5,000 buy-in NAPT Mohegan Sun Main Event for $750,000 while Mercier won the Mohegan Sun High Roller Bounty Shootout. Mercier turned a $20,000 buy-in plus $5,000 bounty into $475,000. Canadian Shawn Buchanan made the final table of the 35-player shootout and finished fifth, winning $80,000 in the process.
Selbst also managed to win the final event, a repeat performance from Season One in the NAPT Mohegan Sun. The second time around, the field reduced to 387 players from Season One’s 716 entries. Selbst outlasted a final table including Dan Shak (second — $254,000), Tyler Kenney (third — $170,000), Joe Tehan (sixth — $70,000), and Steve O’Dwyer (eighth — $32,330) for the $450,000 first-place prize.
Two days after the third event on Season Two of the NAPT, PokerStars halted play in the tour due to the seizure and shut down of PokerStars.com by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for breaking the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) on April 15, 2011. While PokerStars removed the NAPT from its website in March 2012, it returned to the U.S. in March 2016, offering legal sports betting, casino games, and poker to residents of New Jersey. There are many that hope PokerStars revives the series, but there hasn’t been any announcement in the two-year return to the US.