On Saturday, the World Poker Tour held a press conference inside the Monet 1 Ballroom at the Bellagio to announce changes that would be taking place for Season IX of the tour. "This is an exciting year for WPT,” Steve Heller CEO of the World Poker Tour said. “WPT has always been an innovator of poker and today we are pleased to reveal the first in a series of new additions throughout the season that will enhance the entire WPT experience.” The biggest change and possibly the one everyone is most looking forward to, was the announcement of the show's new anchor.
"This should become one of the most significant changes to the television show, that you will see, and we're very excited. For the first time, the WPT will introduce an anchor position. This will be a central hub of the show itself. This is more reminiscent of other large sports media, maybe SportsCenter or you can imagine Bob Costas at the Olympics. Incorporating this will allow us to do a number of things. First it allows us to get more commentary in the show, puts in more player interviews and bios, and more importantly, it allows us to get the stories that led to the final table. How did the players get there and give the viewer content. Like Mike and Vince, the anchor position will be there from day one and will be there reporting. You'll hear from the anchor on the web and you'll see the anchor throughout the show. We think this is a very important innovation and should change the look and feel of the show, give it more of that sports aspect that the show deserves," President of the WPT Adam Pliska said before announcing Kimberly Lansing would be returning to the World Poker Tour in the anchor position.
Lansing was part of the World Poker Tour in Season VI. "Coming back, it just feels so natural and so right and I'm so excited for what's in store for the World Poker Tour," she said.
Another addition to the WPT is the introduction of the Royal Flush Girls. There are six girls in all; four of the six will appear at every WPT stop. Michelle Banzer, Melyssa Grace, Jennifer Haley, Melanie Iglesias, Sunisa Kim, and Katrina Topacio will serve as WPT event ambassadors, taking TV viewers on a behind-the-scenes look at the WPT stops, as well as making the money presentation at the final table.
Matt Savage was also officially announced as the WPT's Executive Tour Director at the press conference. As tour director, Savage will be the liaison between the WPT and the casino tournament directors, as well as the player advocate. "This has been one of the most exciting things I've ever been a part of. Everything that they are doing, seems like they're putting in a lot of effort, a lot of money behind the tour from day one. For me, it's about the players and that's what I want to focus on, working with the players to make a better tour for them," Savage said.
Season IX of the World Poker Tour kicked off on Sunday with Day 1 of the Bellagio Cup VI. By the end of the first day, 243 players had registered, but tournament staff has extended registration until Tuesday afternoon.
You can follow all the updates at WorldPokerTour.com.
*Photo courtesy of WPT.com