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Million and Going Strong!

The phenomenal success of the World Poker Pro Tour was evidenced again in March 2005 when total prize money payouts for Seasons 1-3 steamrolled past the record-breaking $100 mark. The lucky players in the Limit Hold'em Championship divvied up a whopping $7 million prize pool, with Michael Gracz capturing first place honors and a cool $1.5 million.

Gracz is one of the 22 millionaires that the WPT has created in its first 3 seasons. With an "Anyone Can Play; Anyone Can Win" motto, Season 3 came to a close with over 4,500 players, including pros, amateurs, and celebrities, that have vide for a chunk of the bountiful prize money.

Season 4, with an estimated $70-$90 million prize pool, was launched in May 2005 at the Mirage in Las Vegas. And not surprisingly, with prize pools ranging from $3 to $10 million, the WPT expects a new millionaire to be crowned at each of the 16 major events.

Buy-ins are steep, from $5,000 to $15,000, but talented amateurs who win a tournament seat in a satellite competition will bypass the entry fee and face off against some of poker's biggest names. And to sweeten the deal, each of the 16 major event winners also wins a seat in WPT Championship, a buy-in worth $25,000.

Usually, 35 to 40 percent of the prize pool is awarded to the tournament winner with payouts as deep as 40th to 50th place. If 400 players buy in at $10,000 each, that can mean up to $1.6 million for the winner, while still paying out a generous piece of change for the other top finishers, a great incentive for more and more amateurs to compete for a seat in a land or online satellite.

The WPT Championship itself holds the title of the most elite and expensive tournament in the world. To illustrate the extraordinary amount of money involved, this year's WPT Champ, Tuan Le took home $2.9 million from a prize pool worth $11 million. His win eclipses lasts year's $2.7 million won by Marin de Knijff in the $8.6 million championship prize pool.

With some of the highest prize money in poker to be won, the WPT has no trouble attracting the best and most aggressive players in the world. In fact, WPT Enterprises is such a significant force in the industry, that Founder and President Steve Lipscomb notes, "Poker players today plan their lives around the WPT calendar because of the major role our league plays in furthering their careers and the sport."

The WPT has been instrumental in launching today's poker phenomenon by first bringing it into people's living rooms two years ago. The league's televised events are so widely watched that it is the highest rated show ever on the Travel Channel and seen in 60 countries worldwide. Dedicated viewers, caught up in the suspense of the high-stakes action, hone their playing skills as they watch poker's finest players competing in multi-million dollar tournaments. It's a win-win situation for everyone. Thanks to the WPT's efforts, the game that once was a backroom sport has spawned a generation of millionaire superstars along with educated poker enthusiasts who can't seem to get enough of them or the game.

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