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took everyone by surprise when they announced the creation of yet another tour, this time storming the regions of North America with
their unparalleled live events. The North American Poker Tour (also called the NAPT) created a buzz right from the beginning, as
players across the United States and Canada couldn’t believe that they would finally get a chance to play a PokerStars tournament on
their own soil. From the moment that the NAPT was announced at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in January of 2010, it was all that
poker players could talk about, and everyone was wondering how it would fare.
Inquisitive players and poker media didn’t have to wait long to see if the NAPT would sink or swim. The first event (after the PCA,
which was dubbed an NAPT event even after the tournament wrapped) took place at the Venetian Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in February
2010, and brought an astounding 872 players to generate a $4,017,740 prize pool. The Venetian reportedly barely had enough tables and
dealers to handle the unexpected massive field, and it became immediately clear that the NAPT was a soaring success. The $5,000 buy-in
No-Limit Hold’em event was a mix of PokerStars qualifiers and big name professionals, including several members of Team PokerStars
Pro. Once the PokerStars NAPT Venetian wrapped, it was obvious to the poker world that this tour was an astounding success, and was
clearly just getting started.
Based on the successes of all their tours around the world, it’s no surprise that PokerStars has done an amazing job with the NAPT.
The structures of the tournaments are incredible, offering players large starting stacks with long levels which provide an optimum
amount of play. The events are run professionally and efficiently, and never compromise the gold standard that PokerStars has become
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Adding to the hype created by online buzz and global word of mouth, is the ESPN2 coverage of the NAPT events. The production quality
of these shows is above and beyond what the viewer might be used to and will hopefully set the standard for other poker coverage.
Norman Chad and Lon Lon McEachern (who team up for the ESPN’s World Series of Poker coverage every year) do the commentary, which is
their usual routine – Lon McEachern calling the action and Chad cracking jokes. The impressive part of the coverage is in the details
that are provided about the poker itself. It seemed that someone at ESPN finally “got it” that the people who are watching these
events are often serious players themselves, and are interested in the often overlooked details like the position of the dealer button
during the hand and the amounts of the blinds and raises. When they current chip counts are listed, they even go so far as to tell you
how many big blinds each player has. They also put a picture of the player’s face next to their hole cards, which is quite helpful
when the viewer isn’t immediately familiar with each player’s name. The most impressive thing that ESPN does when covering the NAPT
was to tell you each player’s VPIP, which means “Voluntarily Put Into Pot,” an acronym that most serious online players are familiar
with. The number, which is expressed as a percentage, gives players a quick idea of how many hands their opponents (or in this case,
the players on television) are playing. Because these events are sponsored by PokerStars, the VPIP number is a nice touch and shows
that the production has been done carefully with the audience in mind.
Overall, the North American Poker Tour is an incredible success and a perfect addition to other PokerStars tours like the Latin
American Poker Tour (LAPT), the Asia Pacific Poker Tour (APPT) and the European Poker Tour (EPT). With stops all across the continent
of North America, as well as the hugely successful annual Pokerstars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) in the Bahamas, PokerStars has
certainly proven to have conquered another corner of the globe, and players couldn’t be happier. Because of the huge prize pools
generated by the hundreds of players drawn from all around the world, competing in an NAPT event is an opportunity of a lifetime.
Winning your seat online is the best way to find yourself at the next event because in addition to your buy-in, you will receive
travel expenses and hotel accommodations during your stay. If you want to qualify for the NAPT, go to PokerStars.com to find out
details about the next stop and check out the many satellites that are running regularly.
Also see Caribbean Poker Adventure,
Latin American Poker Tour,
Asian Pacific Poker Tour and
European Poker Tour.