In Part I of this article, we outlined the success that the PokerStars.net North American Poker Tour had in its first season. This time around, we’ll take a look at how the first season of the NAPT compares to that of other tours in their first seasons.
Firs, we need to decide which major tours competed with the NAPT. The two largest tours in North America that rival the NAPT are the World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker Circuit. Both tours have had a lot of history in poker and both have had their fare share of success. After all, the people we write talk about had much of their championship history stem from these tours.
During the WPT's 2002-2003 inaugural season, it held 12 events. The events ranged in buy-ins from an invitational $300 to a World Championship $25,000 price tag. In its first year, the average buy-in was a hefty $8,027. That’s a bit more than the average buy-in on the NAPT, which was $6,325 including the 2010 PCA Main Event. Without that event, the average buy-in was $5,000, or $3,027 less than the average buy-in the WPT had in its first season.
Over the course of the first WPT season, an average of 124 players came out to each event and the average winner took home $377,115. Both of those numbers are significantly lower than those of the NAPT where the field size was 763 entrants without the 2010 PCA Main Event thrown into the mix and the average winner took home $767,549. When you throw the 2010 PCA Main Event back into the equation, those numbers jump to 955 and $1,125,662, respectively. Either way you look at it, the NAPT’s numbers crush the WPT’s numbers in a landslide.
Moving over to the WSOP Circuit, which began in 2005 with five events on tour, the numbers are a little closer. The average prize pool for the NAPT was $6,335,785 with the 2010 PCA Main Event included and $3,503,947 without it. The WSOP Circuit had an average prize pool of $2,112,801. Without including the 2010 PCA Main Event, the average first-place prize on the NAPT during the first season was $767,549. That’s about $75,000 more than the $692,301 the average winner on the WSOP Circuit’s first go-round took home.
The one number that stands out as a big discrepancy in the two is the average number of entrants. The NAPT drew 763 players per event, not including the 2010 PCA Main Event, which increase that number to a jaw-dropping 955 players. The WSOP Circuit only attracted an average of 222.4 players to each field. One of the big reasons this number is a lot smaller is that the buy-in for each WSOP Circuit event in its first season was $10,000. As mentioned before, even including the 2010 PCA Main Event, the average buy-in along the NAPT was much less — $6,325. If you take that event out of the equation, the number drops to 763 at half the buy-in of the WSOP Circuit. One could roughly estimate that if the buy-in were to be doubled, the field would be halved, giving the NAPT an estimated average of 381.5 players with a $10,000 buy-in on each $5,000 event. You can then factor the 2010 PCA Main Event back into the equation because it already has a $10,000 buy-in. That makes the average number of entrants 668.4, and that’s still plenty more than the WSOP Circuit saw.
Just in case that’s been a little bit too difficult to understand, here are some graphs of the comparison to help paint a clearer picture of things.
Also working toward the rivalry is the fact that the NAPT was able to secure a television contract much like the WPT and WSOP Circuit had. According to one of the biggest players in the game and Team PokerStars Pro Daniel Negreanu, this was a big reason why the NAPT was so successful. “Securing ESPN to broadcast the NAPT's first season was a real key to its success as the turnouts at each stop exceeded expectations,” Negreanu said.
It’s also important to point out that the NAPT is much more than just a single main event. Like the other tours it rivals, each stop along the NAPT is a series of events. One thing that is fun and new on the NAPT that no one has seen before from a large, televised tour is the “Bounty Shootout” event. Negreanu talked about this, as well. “Along with the main event, we also added a new unique event: the “Bounty Shootout," which has become popular with the players and allows poker to be presented on television in a fresh way,” explained Negreanu. “I think [that] is important for poker's future going forward.”
Fellow Team PokerStars Pro Jason Mercier also told us how he felt about the success of the NAPT’s first season. “I think that the NAPT's first season was a massive success,” he said. “Although we only had four stops, all of them drew huge fields. You just don't see those numbers for main events at WPTs or WSOP Circuit events.”
Looking forward, Mercier is confident about the NAPT progressing and growing even larger. “I think next season will be bigger and better. I assume that we will have more stops, and even bigger fields. I am really looking forward to playing all the NAPTs next year,” he said. Bigger is always better for poker tournaments. If the 2011 PCA Main Event registration list with over 500 players already signed up is any sign of things to come, the NAPT is surely on path for an even bigger year in its sophomore season.
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