The world’s best players will converge on Las Vegas from May 24-26 2011 for the second “dramatic and thrilling” World Team Poker Championship.
Last year’s maiden event saw the likes of Tony G, Doyle Brunson, Phil Hellmuth, Mike Matusow, Annie Duke, Chris Ferguson and Jeffrey Lisandro take part – and an even more impressive line-up is anticipated by organisers this year.
The tournament, to be held at the South Point Casino, will include the best players from no less than 20 countries as they battle within a team format that is made up of three rotating games – Pot Limit Omaha, No Limit Hold’em and Limit Hold’em.
World Team Poker and Fox Sports Net combined last year to air the event and it is expected that will again be case this year with the event shown over 13 successive weeks.
The countries already announced for the tournament are, in no particular order, the United States, England, Brazil, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Russia, Vietnam, Cyprus, Germany, Israel, Iran, China, Greece, Italy, Ukraine, Pakistan, Lebanon, Korea and Spain.
Other countries to have expressed an interest are Mexico, the Caribbean Islands, Denmark, Costa Rica, India, Norway, Wales and the Philippines. It is expected all eight will join after organising line-ups.
There will also be a so-called Wild Card side made up of celebrities to be led by massive poker fan Dr Jerry Buss, who owns the LA Lakers basketball side.
An interesting character, the 77-year-old, who also owns the LA Kings ice hockey franchise, has played high-stakes games for numerous years but has lately become more interested in tournaments.
A regular on television shows, he has also appeared on GSN (formerly the Game Show Network) series High Stakes Poker and NBC’s show Poker After Dark.
No stranger to final tables in big events, Buss recorded a third place finish in the seven-card stud event at the 1991 World Series of Poker and took the second spot in the World Poker Tour (WPT) Freeroll invitational in 2003.
The tournament’s format should be firmed up over the next few weeks, but it is likely to mirror last year. So, it will probably be eight players seated at the first-round tables with the leading two qualifying for the final table. If any team provides more than a single finalist, however, the players’ total chips will be calculated and one member nominated to take part.
Captains are permitted to coach members of their team and make substitutions, thus allowing certain players to enter the fray if a specialist in one of the three poker formats utilised at the event – or if considered particularly effective within certain situations.
A World Team Poker spokesperson said: “Watching poker superstars coaching their teams is not only exciting poker, but dramatic and thrilling reality entertainment certain to captivate audiences.”
Team China’s David Chiu and Johnny Chan – the co-captains – as well as Rich Zhu, Chau Giang, Winfred Yu, Derek Cheung and UB.com professional Maria Ho, collected the $300,000 winners’ prize at the Golden Nugget in Vegas last year after defeating Brazil in a epic 19-hour battle. Brazil’s line-up was skipper Juliano Maesano, Rodrigo Caprioli, Leandro Pimentel, Christian Kruel and Felipe ‘Mojave’ Ramos.
Meanwhile, World Team Poker is planning to alter the format by creating four events – the Pacific League, the Mediterranean League, the Americas League, and the European League – that will culminate in the yearly World Team Championship.
The Pacific match in Macau will come first in the autumn, with Brazil hosting the Americas event, Greece welcoming the Mediterranean tournament, and London holding the European competition.