Top Stories of 2022, #7: Sing When You're Wynning

Over the past few years, if you were to ask any poker player in Las Vegas where their favorite place to play poker was, chances are they’d say the Wynn. The venue has long been known for its elegance, professionalism, and cleanliness. They hold themselves to a high standard, which doesn’t go unnoticed.

The Wynn has traditionally been an independent operator, preferring to host their own tournaments series such as the Wynn Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter Classics, all of which have traditionally been very successful. In 2021, they upped their game by introducing both the Wynn Millions and Mystery Bounty tournaments. The former instantly became one of the premier tournaments on the schedule, while the latter revolutionized the tournament landscape by showing operators the world around how to best execute the new format.

It’s hard to imagine how Wynn Las Vegas could continue its upward trajectory, but Director of Poker Operations Ryan Beauregard and Tournament Director Ray Pulford found a way – by partnering with the World Poker Tour (WPT) for the WPT World Championship, a $10,400 buy-in December tournament with a $15 million guarantee, the largest-ever for a live event.

It was ambitious, and the Wynn were clearly willing to put their money where their mouth was, and the poker community responded by making the entire festival a resounding success. While the Global Poker Awards for 2022 won’t be held until February, the WPT World Championship at Wynn is a surefire nominee, and with all likelihood the favorite to win.

Check out the Wynn Poker Room review here on PokerNews!

WPT Championship a Massive Success

WPT Wynn

The original goal of the WPT World Championship was to hit 1,500 entries, which would meet the $15 million guarantee. It was a risk given other venues had missed big GTDs in the past such as when the $10 million GTD Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open missed its mark to the tune of $2.5 million, the largest overlay in poker history.

Even the most optimistic thought 2,000 runners was probably the ceiling. No one predicted that the guarantee would be nearly doubled as 2,960 entrants turned out in force over the course of three starting flights. That included a mix of recreational players and poker pros from around the world.

There were many memories made, such as that of father-son combo of Jerry and Miles Barnum, as well as plenty of bad beats and coolers, but after six days of play, it was Canada’s Eliot Hudon defeating Benny Glaser heads-up to win the 2022 WPT World Championship for $4,136,000.

What’s more, the WPT World Championship was just one event in a nearly three-way festival.

Here are some of the bigger headlines from the WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas:

Kudos to Beauregard & Pulford

Ryan Beauregard
Ryan Beauregard

Back in 2016, PokerNews published a feature article on Beauregard on the heels of them debuting their brand-new poker room. The industry veteran, who began his career as a dealer at the Wynn when they first opened, had just been named Director of Poker Operations after six years working in Macau.

At the time, Beauregard said: “I think our players here respect the tournaments that we run. While we don’t run as many as some other people, the ones that we do run, like the Wynn Classic and one-off weekends, they have their own following. Those who play one usually play all of them. Players plan their trips to Vegas around the Wynn Classic.”

Ray Pulford
Ray Pulford

In six years, Beauregard and his team have grown the Wynn’s tournament offerings into a gold standard. Even Daniel Negreanu ranked it as one of his favorite places to play, though he did recently suffer a really bad beat there.

While Beauregard deserves credit for making big moves to elevate Wynn Poker, Tournament Director Ray Pulford deserves equal credit for actually pulling them off. Their tournaments tend to run with minimal hiccups, and all the while the staff executes in a fun, friendly, and professional manner. Seriously, ask anyone who has the best dealers and staff in Vegas and you’re sure to hear the Wynn as the answer.

Don’t Forget the WPT

Of course, the highly-successful stop wouldn’t have been possible if it wasn’t for Wynn’s partnership with the WPT, which closed out its 20th anniversary with the WPT Championship. They deserve just as much credit for the stop’s success thanks to everything they did, which was a lot.

Here’s a list of just some of the things the WPT did to ensure their stop at Wynn would be a hit:

  • Qualified hundreds of players via WPT Global, ClubWPT, and various giveaways.
  • Hosted both a Premier Meet-Up Game (MUG) and Ladies MUG.
  • Offered halftime shows including Ballon Girl, DrumBots, Water on Mars, Tina Guo, Pilobolus, ELEW, and Lisa Marie Smith.
  • Offered various guests special access to a VIP Lounge.
  • Hosted a special book signing by WPT Ambassador Doyle Brunson.
  • Enlisted the full strength of their WPT Ambassador roster that included Brunson, Phil Ivey, Brad Owen, Andrew Neeme, and Steve Aoki, as well as WPT talent such as Lynn Gilmartin, Tony Dunst, Matt Savage, and Vince Van Patten.
  • Brought in media from around the world.

“This event is the culmination of more than 18 months of work by the World Poker Tour family to deliver the biggest initiative in company history,” WPT President Adam Pliska said at the start of the festival. “What started out as an idea has blossomed into the most highly anticipated poker event of the year.”

WPT President Adam Pliska
WPT President Adam Pliska

More than two weeks later, Pliska added the following:

“The success of the WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas was a spectacular way to commemorate 20 years of global, WPT events and the many players who have made WPT what it is today. We attempted to make this a true festival atmosphere and are so grateful for the overwhelming reception we received.”

The WPT and Wynn changed the game at the tail end of 2022 with a truly historic series. The good news is that it’s not a one-and-done. Both the WPT and Wynn have confirmed they will run it again in 2023, and given they’ve had the opportunity to learn what worked and what didn’t (of which there was little), players can expect the next iteration to be even bigger and better!

*Images courtesy of the WPT.

Name Surname
Chad Holloway

Executive Editor U.S.

Executive Editor US, PokerNews Podcast co-host & 2013 WSOP Bracelet Winner.

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