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Texas Hold’em in Texas? WPT Hosts First-Ever Events in Texas, Vietnam

Houston, Texas

It’s been a milestone week for the World Poker Tour with groundbreaking poker events in both Texas and Vietnam.

The long-running WPT, which is now in the midst of its 17th season, has never been to either location but loosening gambling laws have opened up new opportunities for the live tournament giant.

Both tournaments are the result of the WPT partnering with local poker clubs to assist in legitimizing the action.

It’s a particularly monumental step considering Texas has long been considered the birthplace of No-Limit Hold’em (also known as Texas Hold’em) but has never been able to host a major poker tournament thanks to extremely restrictive gambling laws in the state.

Over the last few years the WPT has been extremely aggressive in its pursuit of new experimental poker markets such as India, Japan and even China.

Poker Clubs a Revelation in Texas

For years Texas has been a wasteland for legal poker games despite the state’s rich history with the game.

That started changing over the last five years with the introduction of poker clubs.

Poker clubs skirt the state’s stringent gambling laws by not charging a rake (a small amount of money that comes out of the pot in casinos). Instead, the membership-only clubs make money by charging an admission fee or an hourly fee in addition to offering food and beverages.

It’s a payment scheme that would only work with skill-based games like poker where players compete against each other instead of against the house like in traditional gambling.

It seems to be working as the poker club scene in Texas has exploded, with nine different poker clubs in Houston alone.

One of the biggest clubs in Houston, Freerolls Poker Club, helped the WPT enter the market by co-hosting the tournament at the Palacio Maria Event Center.

Organizers charged an entrance membership fee at the door but the $1,000 buy-in WPT DeepStacks tournament officially had no rake.

To say the event was popular is a bit of an understatement with a total of 790 entries and a prize pool in the hundreds of thousands. In the end, amateur poker player Daryl Aguirre outlasted all competitors to take home a first-place prize of $143,765.

With this event out of the way, there’s a good chance bigger events will be headed to Texas in the near future.

Vietnam the Latest Asian Poker Expansion

Across the ocean, Vietnam is just the latest Asian country to get a WPT-branded tournament of its own.

In the past the WPT has successfully hosted events in Japan, India, Korea, China and the Philippines but this week marked the first time it has ventured into Vietnam.

The VND$22-million (roughly $1,000 US) buy-in WPT Vietnam Main Event was co-hosted by Pro Poker Club in Ho Chi Minh City. India’s Dhaval “Dirty” Mudgal outlasted all 679 entries to take down the record-setting first-place prize of $104,000.

The tournament ended up being the largest live tournament ever held in Vietnam with a prize pool of over $565,000. The international nature of the event was on full display with Mudgal facing Japanese poker pro Takao Shimizu heads-up. The final table also included players from Vietnam, Singapore and Taiwan.

The WPT will continue to live up to its moniker over the next few months with stops scheduled to take place in South Africa, Canada, Belgium, India, France and the USA.