On Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011, the World Poker Tour held a press conference at the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens, California, to make a few major announcements pertaining to its tenth season. In addition to top executives WPT CEO Steve Heller and president Adam Pliska, the usual WPT personalities were in attendance, including Mike Sexton, Vince Van Patten, Kimberly Lansing, Tony Dunst, and of course the Royal Flush Girls.
Season IX of the WPT introduced a revamped product that led to attendance records, TV ratings records and numerous new casino partners. This year, even bigger changes are in store. As the WPT said in its press conference invitation: “New technologies, new tour stops, new talent, more on-set and televised enhancements...this promises to be a WPT unlike anything you’ve ever seen.”
The press conference, which PokerNews attended via a simultaneous conference call, began with a short video presentation highlighting the WPT. From there, Steve Heller, Adam Pliska, Mike Sexton, and Vince Van Patten took to the panel (which happened to be the Royal Flush Girls Bar). The latter two were recognized for their work on the WPT, which dates to the very first episode, and it was announced that they would both be returning for Season X. Needless to say, they were met with a warm round of applause from those in attendance.
Heller was first on the mic and briefly mentioned some of the Season X improvements including VIP treatment for champions, live streaming from every final table throughout the year, and coverage from all events, including those overseas.
Things were then turned over to Pliska who announced the fruitful relationship between the WPT and FSN, and that ClubWPT.com would be an official sponsor of Season X. Pliska’s attention then turned to the topic of live streaming WPT final tables and announced that Tony Dunst, who had great success with his Raw Deal segment from Season IX, will be the new live-streaming host. In addition, well-known poker personality Ali Nejad will take over live announcement duties from the final tables.
Other topics from the press conference include:
Royal Flush Girls: Four of last year’s Royal Flush Girls will be returning for Season X: Melyssa Grace, Melanie Iglesias, Michelle Banzer, and Sunisa Kim. They will be joined by two new additions: Mica Javier and Melissa Fisher. The former is an actress, model, singer, and NYU graduate; the other is studying nursing.
New Stops: The WPT has added two new stops on the East Coast at the Jacksonville Poker Room and the Parx Casino outside Philadelphia. Numerous stops outside of the United States are on the schedule as well, including France, Italy, Ireland, Prague, and Malta. Also, there is a good chance there will be even more added before the season in over.
The High Life: Anyone who wins a WPT event will join the “Champions Club” and will receive a variety of benefits and VIP treatment. Not only that, the winner's name will be inscribed on the Champions Cup, a perpetual trophy that will immortalize winners and will travel to every WPT event.
Improvements to the Set: To improve the experience of the final table, the Royal Flush Bar will be part of the set and VIP players will be able to watch the action from there. Additionally, new monitors have been implemented on the set to allow for more interaction with the audience. For example, viewers will be able to contact either the hosts or Royal Flush Girls via Twitter and other social media during the broadcast and ask their own questions.
Honoring Andy Frankenberger: From there, both Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten took turns at the microphone and reminisced about their favorite moments from ten seasons of the WPT. Sexton then presented the Season IX Player of the Year trophy to the winner, Andy Frankenberger. The former Wall Street trader was given a flattering introduction by Sexton and it seemed only fitting that he was recognized at the very event he won in Season IX. “Play within your means, never think you’re smarter than you are,” Frankenbeger modestly answered when asked if he had any advice for young players, adding: “Thank you for giving me the chance to make a name for myself.”
Q & A: The press conference then opened up to a Q & A session. Here are some summaries of the questions and answers asked during this period (unfortunately, not all questions were captured because those asked from members of the live press conference audience were not always audible on the call):
What will Matt Savage’s role be in Season X?
Matt Savage will be returning and will serve as a sideline reporter on the show while serving as an ambassador for the World Poker Tour.
How will Dunst’s role differ between the Raw Deal and his new live-streaming gig?
Dramatic differences. His Raw Deal was a segment; the live streaming will be hours long. The WPT family, however, believes that Dunst’s attributes will play well in both formats.
Will the Legends of Poker final table be live streamed?
Yes, the Legends of Poker live stream will be on a thirty-minute delay at www.Liveatthebike.com.
For more on Season X, visit the World Poker Tour website.