The Battle to Be the Best Live Poker Tour

Phil Ivey

There are a lot of advantages to playing online poker: you can play from the comfort of your living room, food and drinks are readily available from your fridge in the kitchen, you can play the game in your underwear if that's what you want to do.

But as many advantages as online poker might have, poker remains a social game, played between people, and as such, there's a special feeling to riffling real chips and squeezing real cards. Looking your opponent in the eye across the felt when you put in that check-raise with the nuts can be far more satisfying than putting the moves on a virtual avatar.

Of course, live poker happens nearly every day of the year in nearly every city on the planet these days, but when it comes to tournament poker, a few folks have stepped up the game, putting together tournament series that stand the test of time, and keep players coming out.

World Poker Tour

One of the most venerable and recognizable poker tours around is the World Poker Tour (WPT). Started in 2002, the WPT is now in its 16th season of providing top notch poker tournaments around the world. As one of the most watched televised poker tours, the WPT is not only seen as an important tour by players and industry insiders, but it's often also a poker newcomer's first exposure to the game.

With Main Event entry fees ranging from as low as $3,000 to as high as $15,000 for the season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions, the WPT lives up to its world billing, with events this season in Canada, USA, Germany, the Netherlands, and China. Season XVI is coming to an end now, with ARIA Resort & Casino set to host the WPT Tournament of Champions starting May 24. Through a deal with FOX Sports, the WPT is set to keep providing poker action to the masses through season XIX.

In addition to the main tour, the WPT runs smaller scale WPTDeepStacks and WPT500 tours, which offer the same professional tournament environment for a lower price tag than the main tour. With deep structure. multi-day tournaments, the WPT may have the poker you're looking for, no matter what your buy-in level is.

PokerStars Live

Not wanting to be limited to your computer screens, major online poker providers have been staging live poker for a long time. PokerStars Live is the latest edition of the iconic live poker series run by the online poker giant. After a brief rebranding as PokerStars Championship events in 2017, PokerStars iconic brands like the European Poker Tour (EPT), the Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT), and the Asian Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) are back with new force.

With buy-in ranges in the €5,000 - €10,000 range, the EPT events are among the premier live events in Europe. Iconic stops like Barcelona and Monte Carlo give the tour consistency and history, while new locations every season provide flavour and variety. With the additional tours in Asia and Latin America, as well as premier events like the PokerStars Caribean Adventure and the newly minted PokerStars Players Championship in the Bahamas in 2019, PokerStars Live has global coverage.

In addition to the main tours, PokerStars sponsors several regional tours with smaller buy-ins, such as PokerStars Festivals, the PokerStars MEGASTACK, and the Brazilian Series of Poker. Additionally, more local series run in several markets, such as the Genting Poker Series in the United Kingdom, and the Italian Poker Open, among others.

partypoker MILLIONS

Another online poker giant, partypoker, is also making a serious stab at the top end live tournament market. The global MILLIONS series is running massive events across the globe with prize pools as large as $10,000,000 guaranteed. The recent MILLIONS North America at Playground Poker Club in Kahnawake, Quebec had a guarantee of $10,000,000 and awarded at least $1,000,000 to the top three finishers. Other "side events" with guarantees of $1 million brought the total money guaranteed over the entire series to $15,000,000.

In addition to the MILLIONS series, partypoker runs Grand Prix, and Grand Prix Mini events across the world, a series of lower buy-in events that provide a great live poker experience at a bargain price. On the other side of the coin, the Triton’s Premium Super High Roller Series offers nosebleed tournaments for the poker elite.

There's plenty more live poker from partypoker with tours like the Eurasian Poker Tour (EAPT). which runs festivals in cities like Prauge. Minsk and Sochi. As well, classic events like the Irish Open and the Caribbean Poker Party mean that no matter what buy-in you are looking for, or where you are in the world, there's probably a partypoker live event happening soon, somewhere near you.

World Series of Poker

It would be irresponsible to talk about the best live tournament series' around the globe without mentioning the oldest and most fabled of them all: the World Series of Poker (WSOP). The WSOP runs ever year in Las Vegas in June and July, and features the largest selection and greatest variety of poker in any one place at any time in the poker calendar.

This year's event kicks off, as usual, with the Casino Employees' event — a low-buy in tournament where registration is restricted to dealers and other casino employees who will be working their butts off during the rest of the series. For the next six weeks, poker of all shapes and sizes is played by tens of thousands of people. While other tours and live stops sometimes offer a range of mixed games, the WSOP is the only live stop that guarantees a crack at just about any variety of poker you care to play.

Of course, there's a huge variety of no-limit hold'em through the six-week series, with buy-ins as low as $365 for Event #6: Giant. But they also run a full selection of mixed-games like H.O.R.S.E. and eight-game, as well as more innovative formats like mixed triple-draw lowball, which mixes ace-to-five with deuce-to-seven and badugi. One of the premier tournaments on the schedule every years is the Poker Player's Championship, which is being played this year as an eight-game dealer's choice format.

Everything builds up to the most coveted title in all of poker, the WSOP Main Event — a massive $10,000 tournament spanning 13 days of poker, including three starting days. The Main Event bracelet is the trophy every poker player wants, and the best players in the world always show up to fight for the title.

Its a new poker world these days on the live felt, but there's still plenty of great action around the world. Where will you play your next hand?

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