WPT President and CEO Adam Pliska Interview – What to Expect from the 2023 WPT World Championship

wpt adam pliska interview

5 minutes

Last Updated: January 25, 2024

The excitement in the poker community continues to build up as the WPT World Championship event approaches. The big date is now less than three months away, and everyone’s anxious to know as much as possible ahead of time.

To try and satisfy that curiosity, we got in touch with the people running the show. Last week, we sat down with Matt Savage, WPT’s Executive Tour Director, who shared some insights about what it looks like to run things on the floor during an event like this.

This week, we were able to catch up with none other than Adam Pliska, President and CEO of the World Poker Tour, to talk to him about the idea for the bold $40,000,000 guarantee, The Big One for One Drop, and more.

WPT

Q: Let’s start with a question that’s on everybody’s mind. A $40,000,000 million guarantee is unprecedented for live tournaments and a really ambitious target. How did you come up with such a huge number, and what makes you confident you’ll be able to hit it?

Adam: Based on the success of last year, we began discussing guarantee almost right after the conclusion of last year’s World Championship. In the end, we felt $40 million would serve as a strong signal of our commitment to making the WPT World Championship a premiere, world-class event. 

We believe that with our partner, Wynn Resorts, we have created a schedule that can accommodate the great demand and feedback we received from players while delivering true value.

Q: Last year, the turnout for the WPT World Championship was really big, and it blew the original $15 million guarantee out of the water. If there is one thing we’ve seen this year is that live poker is on a serious uptick, with attendance records being broken left and right. How much has this positive trend influenced the decision to go all out with the Championship Event?

Adam: The positive trend certainly helped in coming to terms with the $40 million guarantee. The influence was not so much mathematical though, but more so a desire to match the energy of the live poker growth and the enthusiasm we are seeing from players.

Q: A couple of other big events are happening around the same time as the WPT World Championship, namely WSOP Paradise and the EPT in Prague. Do you believe this tightly packed schedule in December could influence the turnout, as some players will have to choose where to play?

Adam: The multi-event lineup is likely more a sign that the player ecology is thriving, and I suspect all events will benefit from it. Ultimately, I believe anything that inspires players to play more benefits the poker community in general.

Q: In addition to the record-breaking Championship Event, the schedule features the $1,000,000 Big One for One Drop event. The tournament has traditionally been a part of the World Series of Poker, so it was certainly a bit of a surprise. How did you come to this cooperation?

Adam: The WSOP and the One Drop Foundation had an amazing partnership and raised many funds for One Drop’s important global cause.

WPT was a perfect fit to continue that mission and elevate our joint charity initiatives. We are thrilled to bring back the Big One for One Drop as a culmination of the first year of our partnership.

Q: Can you tell us if the Big One for One Drop event is a one-off thing or if you have future plans for cooperation with the One Drop Foundation? What are your expectations for the tournament in terms of attendance?

Adam: It’s too early to announce our future plans but I will say that The Big One is an extraordinary event that we feel adds great momentum to the growth and excitement we’ve seen in poker.

We are hopeful that our other One Drop events over the summer as well as the early interest are a positive sign for the Big One for One Drop this December.

Q: Filling up all the seats at the Championship Event is a challenge, but online qualifiers will likely help in that regard. WPT Global has been running satellites for about a month now, so from what have you seen so far, how many players do you think will win their entries online? How likely are we to have an epic story of someone turning a few bucks into millions?

Adam: WPT Global is the primary online path to win your way into the WPT Championship worldwide. Last year, Global awarded over 200 seats to players and with even higher expectations this year WPT is experiencing significant field expansion from package winners — something we always wanted.  

Considering the many opportunities to win a seat online on WPT Global, as well as ClubWPT, and the anticipated prizepool this year, there’s always a chance of some real rags to riches story lines.

Q: The WPT World Championship seems to be going from strength to strength, with the December event promising the perfect end of the year for players and poker fans alike. That said, what are your plans for the future? Where does the event go from here?

Adam: The great thing about the WPT World Championship is that the work will never be completed, and the festival will continue to evolve.  Wynn and WPT are committed to listen to players and finding ways to improve each year.

Q: To wrap it up, what message would you like to send to all the players out there? Why should they be in Las Vegas this December?

Adam: First, the WPT wants to thank the players for the support they have shown in making the December event what it was last year and as it grows.

Whether a player comes for the $40 million guarantee, the qualifier-rich field, the fun off-the-felt activities, or exceptional room rates at Wynn, we want the players to know we are going to do our utmost to deliver the best experience we can for them.

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