If you have about $100,000 sitting around waiting to burn -- and who doesn't, right? -- and you fancy yourself a card stud, South Florida is ready to give you a game. A new international tournament series for "super high rollers" is getting ready to kick off with a late-summer event at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood.
It's the first tournament series of its kind. And although the news is shooting excitement through the industry, some poker experts are wondering if the card world can handle so many big-pocket events.
Such $100,000 buy-in events are usually one-off high-roller exhibitions -- inherently big, glitzy draws thanks to the money involved but not feasible as extended tours. But the World Poker Tour is betting (puns!) to change that with the new tournament, dubbed Alpha 8.
The setup features a $100,000 buy-in with $200 and $400 starting blinds and the chance for reentry. Hoping to draw in high-roller excitement, the tournament is already scheduled for TV broadcast on Fox Sports 1 starting in March 2014.
The Hard Rock will host the inaugural Alpha 8 on August 26 as part of the casino's own Poker Open -- a main-event game that features a $5,000 entry and a guaranteed prize pool of $10 million. According to word on the street, the Alpha 8 will feature a Carmen Sandiago-ish worldwide reach, with stops in Europe, Asia, and South Africa -- although organizers are mum on those specifics right now.
When New Times reached out to the World Poker Tour about who's playing in the Hard Rock event, the organization was still keeping its cards to its chest (boom, count it -- more puns). "We're not ready to announce the names of any players as of yet," WPT's Jon Katkin told us in an email. "We'll look to do this within a couple weeks, however, to help build more momentum for the tournament."
But some big thinkers in the poker world are looking at the Alpha 8 with suspicion. How many, they're asking, six-figure buy-ins can the poker industry possibly support? With that kind of coin needed, we're not talking about the sunglasses-and-Kangol crowd you see burning down afternoons at the $5 tables. Logically, there are only so many deep-pocketed businessmen or oil sheiks or trust-fund babies who can afford to throw in. Too many events scatters the market.
At least, that's PokerNews' Editor-in-Chief Donnie Peterson's take. In his Five Thoughts column this week, he addressed the Alpha 8.
"When you factor in all of the other super high roller events around the world on the European Poker Tour, the WSOP and at the Aussie Millions, how much money does the WPT expect players to have?" Peterson wrote. "The new WPT Alpha8 stops are only going to create more congestion amongst an already saturated poker tournament market. Just look at the first one, which butts right up against the EPT Barcelona €50,000 Super High Roller at the end of August."
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