Gruissem wins WPT Alpha8 St. Kitts; Alpha8 future still in doubt

alpha8If you would have asked me a few months back “which WPT Alpha8 $100k buy-in tournament would produce the biggest field,” St. Kitts would have been a distant third behind London and the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida.

So you can imagine my surprise when the WPT Alpha8 St. Kitts attracted 23 players (along with five reentries) easily surpassing the London and Florida stops. What is even more amazing in my view is that the other two stops were held as part of a major tournament series! Maybe the WPT should focus on tropical destinations when planning future Alpha8 stops.

With 28 total entries the winner of the Alpha8 St. Kitts tournament will walk away with a cool million bucks, the first seven-figure prize on the Alpha8 tour.

At the end of Day 1 It was Ike Haxton who was sitting at the top of the leader-board, with 15 other world-class players in the trail-pack –as would be expected for a $100k buy-in tournament.

Unfortunately for Haxton his run-good came to an end on Day 2, and although he made the final table, his day would end with a 7th place finish, two spots shy of the money, and he’d leave St. Kitts down $100,000 but with some fond memories of beaches and island drinks I’m sure.

The winner was (surprise, surprise) a German; poker pro Phillip Gruissem who captured his second straight Alpha8 title. And as a side; what is going with German poker players? Do they win every tournament or is it just me?

This marked the 11th cash in Gruissem’s career in a tournament with a buy-in of at least $25,000. This was also his fourth victory in such an event according to his Hendon Mob stats:

* 1st place in the 2013 WPT Alpha8 London £100k Super-High-Roller — $1,379,840

* 1st place in the 2013 WSOP APAC $50k High Roller — $863,386

* 1st place in the 2011 EPT £20k High Roller Event — $703,657

Here is a look at the final table payouts from the WPT Alpha8 St. Kitts tournament:

1. Philipp Gruissem — $1,086,400

2. Tom McDonald — $679,000

3. Mike McDonald — $434,560

4. Jason Koon — $298,760

5. Scott Seiver — $217,280

You can head over to the WPT website for a complete recap of the tournament.

Is The Alpha8 Going To Make It?

With the first successful tournament under their belts (I wouldn’t classify the Hollywood, Florida and London events as successful) it will be interesting to see if the Alpha8 can build on this momentum and actually turn a $100k buy-in poker tour into a feasible business.

If the Alpha8 could somehow incorporate the current super-high-roller tournaments from their competitors that have already become mainstays (the PCA and Aussie Millions) I would have a lot of faith in the Alpha8’s ability to “make it.”

Unfortunately, the likelihood of the PokerStars backed EPT joining forces with the Party Poker backed WPT Alpha8 is pretty slim, although I could see the Alpha8 working out a deal with the Aussie Millions.

One thing I have learned from following the Alpha8 events is that the player pool isn’t the usual tournament crowd, it’s a subset of a subset, and made up almost entirely of online players who want to play big stakes in “fun” locales.

With this in mind I think Alpha8 tournaments need to be held in places with legalized online poker, and like St. Kitts, places that would appeal to a young men with pocketfuls of cash to spend.

Alpha8 South Africa

Since it was announced as a stop, I pointed to the WPT Alpha8 tournament in Johannesburg, South Africa as the make or break tournament for the tour. The reason I say this is that South Africa is an out of the way destination, and one that players would likely only to go to specifically play in the Alpha8 tournament.

Basically, the Alpha8 Johannesburg is going to attract players who are there for the tournament and the tournament alone, so we should get a good idea if it’s the Alpha8 bringing in players, or the tournament series/destination that is built around the Alpha8 tournaments.

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