On Monday, April 21st, the World Poker Tour hosted a private cocktail party and ceremony at the Bellagio’s “O” Theater to honor its 96 previously crowned champions. The objective of the evening was to look back at six seasons of the World Poker Tour and award all of those tournament winners with newly unveiled Tiffany bracelets.
The event kicked off at 8:30pm with the cocktail party for players, media, and VIP’s. Amidst an exhibition of the “Art of Richard McDonald” and a large “wall of champions” displaying photos of all 96 past WPT winners, players walked the red carpet and mingled until the ceremony began at 10pm. Complimentary drinks were served at the cocktail party with platters of food from the Bellagio’s Fix restaurant.
WPT Enterprises President, CEO, and founder Steve Lipscomb began the Ceremony of Champions in the plush “O” Theater with some recollections of the first six seasons of the WPT and those who helped make it possible. The remainder of the evening was emceed by Masters of Ceremony Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten. They introduced numerous video clips on a large screen that reminisced about some of the most memorable moments, worst beats, and interesting personalities of the show thus far. In addition, the two emcees added their own jokes, including a point at which Mike Sexton supposedly took a cell phone call from Phil Hellmuth and explained that he wasn’t being honored because he had not won a WPT tournament.
At one point, Doyle Brunson was invited onto the stage by Sexton to give a special remembrance to the late Chip Reese. Brunson took a few moments to share some memories and note how much he will be missed in the poker community for years to come.
Throughout the ceremony, winners from each season of the WPT were honored. All six sets of winners were welcomed to the stage for photos and applause as each player was given a beautifully wrapped box that contained their newly created bracelet. Tiffany & Co. designed the 96 personalized bracelets for each champion – each one a ribbed link bracelet made of titanium and sterling silver with the WPT logo engraved in a matte finish and accented with a diamond set in the spade of the logo.
Prior to the evening, Lipscomb had noted, “There are so many incredible stories to celebrate from the six World Poker Tour seasons and we are thrilled to pay tribute to each of our WPT champions. The championship bracelet has become synonymous with poker as a symbol of achievement and respect, and we are honored to continue the tradition that Benny Binion began over 30 years ago.”
Players in attendance seemed genuinely honored to be given the bracelets and attend a ceremony to pay tribute to them. Many WPT executives came to the celebration, as well as players’ significant others. It was an enjoyable night for all, and the care and time that went into the planning for the event made it into an evening for the WPT winners to remember.