WSOPE, WPT Venice and NBC National Heads-Up Poker Championship

This week saw big live poker tournaments coming and going as well as a significant move for one of the largest poker championships in the world. Of course we’re talking about the end of the WPT Venice Main Event, the beginning of NBC’s National Heads-Up Poker Championship, and the WSOPE’s big move from London, England to Cannes, France.

In regards to the WSOPE move, the news was broken first not by tournament producer Caesars Interactive Entertainment but by a French news site that was apparently too excited by hearing about the move to keep their mouths shut until the WSOPE press release. Regardless, the damage has been done and many WSOPE fans are having mixed feelings about watching Europe’s biggest poker tournament leave its longtime stomping grounds.

Another notable tournament left its host country today, but unlike the WSOPE it’ll be back again next year. That’d be the WPT’s Venice leg which ended with the Main Event final table yesterday. The Main Event started on Thursday with just two Day 1 runs. Altogether, 523 players showed up to compete for what amounted a more than $2 million prize pool. The event was dominated by native players, and the Italian pros held out all the way through the last day.

Italian player Alessio Isaia played consistently well over the weekend, repeatedly topping the chip counts at the end of every day. He came to the final table with just under 3 million chips, which put him a good million behind Day 3 leader David Vamplew. There was a little jockeying around on the last day, and as a result Vamplew didn’t make it to the heads-up portion, but Szabolcs Mayer and Alessio Isaia did. Ultimately Isaia overcame a huge chip deficit (Mayer had 12,865,000 to Isaia’s 2,800,000 at the start of the heads-up action), hanging on for more than eight hours of grueling play to win his way back to the top and keep the WPT Venice title in Italy.

What’s next on the live tournament schedule? Most of the American pros are booking flights to Las Vegas to participate in or watch the ever-popular National Heads-Up Poker Championship. The Heads-Up Poker Championship is once again going to be sponsored (and broadcast) by NBC and will take place at Caesars Palace from March 3 through March 6.

Because entry into the Heads-Up event is by invitation only, the field is uncharacteristically small for a tournament that carries such prestige, but the list of competitors reads like a who’s who of heads-up players: 2010 Champion Annie Duke will be back to defend her title against poker giants like Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, and the recently unretired Peter Eastgate.

Related Entries