World Poker Tour Season 4
2005 Jason Kirk  

Outside of the World Series of Poker, the World Poker Tour is the most recognizable tournament series in the game today. Its weekly broadcasts on the Travel Channel the WPT are some of the most watched poker tournaments on television, and it's safe to say that the flood of poker programming that has hit the airwaves in the last year can be directly attributed to the WPT's success. After three years of bringing the highest buy-in tournaments in the world to the American viewing public, the WPT is now in its fourth season and it's bigger and better than ever. Here's a rundown of this year's WPT action.

The Mirage in Las Vegas was home to the WPT's Season 4 kickoff event , the Mirage Poker Showdown. 317 players ponied up ten grand apiece for the chance at a first prize worth over $1 million and a seat at the $25,000 WPT Championship at the end of the season. After three days of grinding tournament play, the final table was set to begin on May 26. World-class player Ted Forrest was the marquee player at the table, and he was joined by Mark Ellerbe, Eugene Todd, Chris Bell, Gavin Smith, and Thang Pham.

Up next was the Grand Prix de Paris at the Aviation Club in Paris, France. The field was smaller this time around, with only 160 players filling up the world-famous Aviation Club. The buy-in of 10,000 euros per player created a 1.5 million euro prize pool. Roland De Wolfe, Juha Helppi, Michel Zajdenberg, Tim Anders, Curt Kohlberg, and Alan Goehring made the July 29 final table of this event, and De Wolfe walked away with the first prize of 480,000 euros and entry to the WPT Championship.

The Legends of Poker, held at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles, CA, was the season's third event. Though the buy-in was a mere $5,000, the field didn't top that of the Mirage. 239 players entered to create a $4.1 million prize pool. Kenna James, Jake Minter, Tim Phan, Alex Kahaner, Todd Phillips, and Kevin O'Donnell made the August 31 final table. It was the Israeli, Kahaner, who walked away with the $1,125,000 first prize and a seat in the WPT Championship.

WPT Ladies' Night, a tradition for the last two seasons, continued this season. Six women were invited to play in this season's made-for-TV tournament: Aidiliy Elviro (wife of Michael Mizrachi), Marsha Waggoner, Spanish Cecilia Reyes (wife of Carlos Mortensen), defending champion Isabelle "No Mercy" Mercier, WSOP Ladies' Event bracelet winner Jennifer Tilly, and Terresa Gallagher. Tilly held off the rest of the field to win a seat to this season's WPT Championship.

The Borgata Poker Open, held at the stylish Borgata casino in Atlantic City, NJ, drew the largest field of any Season 4 WPT event to that point. 515 players put up $9,700 to enter the tournament on September 19, creating a $5 million prize pool. By September 22 the field had been whittled down to the final six: Al Ardebili, Richard Q Festejo, Kathy Liebert, John D'Agostino, Robert Hwang, and David Singer. Local player Ardebili won the $1,498,650 first prize and the WPT Championship entry.

UltimateBet's Aruba Poker Classic was held in late September for the fourth straight year, and it was a smash hit once again. A whopping 647 players entered the tournament for $5,000 on September 26, creating a $3.1 million prize pool. By October 1 only six remained: Freddy Deeb, Joss Schlein, Johan Storakers, Devin Porter, Robert Border, and Stacy Matuson. Professional player Deeb took home a cool $1 million for his victory, and also won his seat in the WPT Championship.

Season 4 continues at the Doyle Brunson North American Poker Championship main event this week at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and next week at the World Poker Finals at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Mashantucket, CT.


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