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Poker News | World Poker News

WPT China Claims Success, WPT Online Folds

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When the World Poker Tour first came onto the poker scene, it led the way in television programming and created a tournament circuit that brought people into the game in a unique way. While the WPT has had its problems through the years, as does any publicly-owned business, it continues to find niches in the poker market in which to thrive. WPT China is one of those.

WPT China began in the summer of 2007 in Beijing with the WPT China National Traktor Poker Tour, the first ever of its kind in China. Together with the China Leisure Sports Administrative Center (CLSAC), the WPT has grown traktor poker into a growing trend and popular game. In November, the first episodes of the tour aired on Nanjing Entertainment Television in the Jiangsu province, and the series is scheduled to be broadcast in other areas of China as well. With official government sanctioning, WPT China has grown into somewhat of a national phenomenon.

The Chinese market is embracing other areas of the poker industry as well, as internet and mobile platforms have recently launched with games for the masses. The WPT China website is also offering a seat into the Season 2 finals as the second season of the tour just got underway. The World Poker Tour seems to be successfully making its mark across the world in China.

At the same time, however, WPT Enterprises has had its share of struggles in the U.S. With a lawsuit by players , failing stock prices, threatened delisting from Nasdaq, and a shortage of income since it moved its WPT television shows from GSN to Fox Sports Net, the company has faced some true challenges since the World Poker Tour first launched in 2002, many of them coming in the past year. One of those issues faced has been the downfall of WPT Online, the company’s attempt to find success in the online poker market.

WPT Enterprises tried to be a fixture in the worldwide online gaming market for several years, though it was a tough road to hoe. Not only did the company make this attempt after most other sites had been established and held a solid percentage of the market, but WPT Online was not available to U.S. players for fear that the public nature of their company would set off alarms in the U.S. Justice Department when the UIGEA was passed. But global customers, many of whom were not as familiar with the WPT as those in the U.S., did not clamor to play on the site as the company had hoped. In addition, the website was saddled with technology-related issues and a general inability to pull customers from other already-trusted sites.

Finally, WPT Enterprises decided to attempt to follow in the footsteps of UltimateBet and CardPlayer by opening ClubWPT, a subscription-only website that operates under lottery rules. Again, however, by the time ClubWPT entered the U.S. market with the idea, customers open to it were already paid members of other sites established months prior. ClubWPT still struggles to maintain its base and work a Fox Sports television show around the site, and while its success remains to be seen, the company decided to abandon its WPT Online efforts in the hopes of putting more resources into ClubWPT.

Thus, WPT Online shut its virtual doors in late November of 2008, and WPT Enterprises must simply write it off as a belated and failed effort to get its piece of the online gaming pie. While there is enough blame to be placed on various decisions surrounding that effort, the company’s focus is now on dealing with its new Fox Sports partnership, ClubWPT endeavor, and struggles with stock prices and the likely Nasdaq delisting in 2009.

Though the company claims to be on a solid track and moving forward with successful projects, the ever-thinning Season 7 tournament schedule just saw the removal of the ever-popular Borgata stop in January. And, as of yet, the broadcast schedule for Season 7 shows has still not been announced as the tour reaches its midway point of the current season.

The World Poker Tour led the way in revising poker programming and making it a staple in households everywhere. If any company can roll with the punches of a struggling economy and strained poker market, it seems as if it would be WPT Enterprises. Quite possibly, the success of WPT China and the projected success of other endeavors will put the WPT back on top where it fought so hard to be.

*If you are never at a major land based tournament, you will never sit at a WPT table. But if you play PokerStars, you have many options to satellite into major land based tournaments around the world. And PokerStars has a free money offer for a limited time. Take a seat, play the game!*

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