WPT Elite Poker Championship Taking Over Bellagio in May

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Bellagio and the WPT meet again for the Elite Poker Championship. (WPT photo)

Season XVI on the World Poker Tour enters its last hurrah this month in Las Vegas. The race to the finish line starts with the Bellagio Elite Poker Championship from May 1-6. The $10,400 event was added in March to the WPT Main Tour calendar along with a $25,000 high roller.

The Elite Poker Championship harkens back to past seasons of the WPT where multiple events were hosted at the Bellagio. Festa al Lago last ran in Season IX and the WPT World Championship moved from Bellagio to the Borgata after Season XII. The field should be strong with the summer on the horizon.

The final days of the Elite Poker Championship overlap with the special edition WPT Bellagio High Roller. The $25,000 event follows up on the Rockstar Energy High Roller from March at the L.A. Poker Classic that brought in 50 runners.

The Bellagio High Roller runs May 5 and 6 with the final table delayed until May 25. The final table is going to be filmed for television at the Esports Arena Las Vegas inside Luxor along with the Bobby Baldwin Classic and WPT Tournament of Champions final tables.

Play for the high roller event starts with both the big blind ante and Action Clock in effect. Registration is open until the start of Level 11 on Day 2. All levels are 60 minutes and players open their High Roller accounts with a starting bank of 100,000.

The $10,400 Elite Poker Championship Main Event is a six-day slog to find a winner. The structure is reminiscent of the Five Diamond Classic. Blinds are 90-minutes all the way up to the final table and registration is open until the start of Level 9 on Day 2. The field welcome to unlimited re-entries. A formal announcement awaits on whether or not the final table is to be televised or live streamed.

The Elite Poker Championship could have major ramifications for the WPT Player of the Year race. Art Papazyan still holds a wide lead with 2,450 points but one more deep run from some of the contenders could put his title hopes in peril.

Papazyan cashed in the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown last week to add to his point total solely earned from his two titles. Expect to see Papazyan in attendance at the Bellagio.

Derek Wolters is in second-place thanks to two third-place finishes. Wolters sits on 1,850 points and WPT Winter Poker Open champion Eric Afriat is right behind with 1,750.

WPT Maryland runner-up Zach Donovan did the biggest favor of all the contenders in Florida for his POY hopes. Donovan added 400 points for 10th place to move up to 1,450 for the season.