Expanding Footprint: WPT Partners With New FanJolt Social Media Video Service; More Action Ahead

The World Poker Tour continues branching out in new forms of media distribution and fan engagement. From entering the world of NFTs to expanded streaming platforms, tour management hasn’t shied away from expanding its footprint in recent years.

The tour announced yet another partnership on Friday, teaming up with FanJolt. The company offers “a new interactive fan experience that directly connects users with their favorite faces from the worlds of poker, sports, and entertainment to support their charities and foundations.”

That now includes some of the WPT’s biggest names and most well-known poker players.

“FanJolt is a unique enhancement to our overall fan engagement,” WPT CEO Adam Pliska said in a news release. “We look forward to sharing the opportunity for an exclusive WPT experience with poker players and fans around the world.”

Along with that deal, the tour also recently announced a new agreement for an NFT Poker Club involving online poker. Here’s a look at some of the latest news from the tour.

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How does FanJolt work?

FanJolt allows users to join live broadcasts with their favorite celebrities. Each live broadcast includes an opportunity for a participant to be “JOLTED” into personal, one-on-one conversations with the individual celeb host.

The company is a startup and the launch will now include WPT cast members Vince Van Patten, Lynn Gilmartin, and Tony Dunst.

Poker pros Daniel Negreanu, Maria Ho, and Antonio Esfandiari have also joined the FanJolt lineup. Ho and Negreanu make their FanJolt debut with a dual broadcast on Feb. 17.

Broadcast fees start at $1.99. A look at the launch showed upcoming streams with golfing legend Annika Sorenstam, tennis superstar Rafa Nadal, and actor/comedian Chevy Chase.

Other participants include Aaron Judge, Kareem Hunt, Kevin O’Leary, Jewel, Ashanti, and others. As part of the initial launch, all live broadcast fees in February will go to designated charities.

“Through FanJolt, World Poker Tour fans can instantly and easily gain access to their favorite players through a variety of upcoming events,” FanJolt founder and CEO Trevor Short said.

“In addition to bringing fans and their icons together on one platform, FanJolt and The World Poker Tour look forward to not only engaging with the community, but being able to use the platform to benefit a variety of charities and foundations with each interaction.”

Media presence expansion continues

Poker continues to see some mainstream interest in recent weeks. 16-time World Series of Poker champion Phil Hellmuth headlined a celebrity event last week for the American Cornhole League.

The event had Hellmuth, who also hosts the WPT’s Raw Deal segment, paired with a pro and playing at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas on ESPN.

Actor Laurence Fishburne also recently hit the screen in a television commercial for the free-to-play WSOP mobile game. The WPT now adds some of its own talent and players to a bit of the Hollywood ranks with FanJolt.

The tour also recently announced a deal with GAMAVRS. The company is launching the Poker Heroes Club, the world’s first NFT poker club.

“Club members will be able to use their Poker Heroes as in-client avatars with special abilities such as access to freeroll tournaments, exclusive celebrity tables, and access to WPT live VIP events,” the WPT notes in announcing the partnership.

Poker Heroes owners can upload their NFTs to use as avatars and unlock “poker superpowers.” These can be used as part of a new online poker offering known as WPTGlobal.

The companies are promising plenty of special events from $100,000 freerolls to live VIP events.

Alexander Yen at the Lucky Hearts Poker Open final table. (photo courtesy WPT)

More WPT events on the horizon

In January, the Lucky Hearts Poker Open kicked off the tour’s 20th anniversary season at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida.

Alexander Yen came out on top for $975,240 after topping a field of 1,982 entries, which created a $6.4 million prize pool.

The 36-year-old University of Indiana graduate learned how to play in college. He’s now been playing professionally for 15 years.

“(My friends and I) started playing for beer money, and they would all beat me and take my money,” Yen told WPT.com after scoring the biggest win of his career. “By sophomore year, I started playing online poker, and that’s when things really started to click and take off.”

The tour again heads to Florida for the second stop of the season. The $3,500 Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown runs from April 8-12 and features a $2 million guarantee. After that is the WPT Choctaw in Durant, Oklahoma, from May 13-16 and also with a $3,500 buy-in.

Tour officials announced earlier this year that WPTDeepStacks events would also qualify for the Player of the Year race this season.

A few of those events are also ahead, including two stops outside the US. The €1,100 WPTDS Amsterdam is set for March 29 – April 1. The WPTDS Sydney heads to The Star Casino in Australia from April 7-11 with a AUD$1,500 buy-in.

The WPTDS then returns to Thunder Valley Casino in California from April 28 – May 1 and comes with a $1,500 buy-in. More WPT events are expected to be announced soon.