When the World Poker Tour announced a record-breaking $15 million guarantee for their season-ending WPT World Championship at Wynn Las Vegas, there were many who wondered how the event would avoid an overlay. Now, on the eve of the $10,400 buy-in tournament, talk has shifted to wondering just how big the prize pool can get.
One major reason why the tour isn’t sweating the guarantee is because of the huge number of players who have been able to win their seats in recent weeks. Not only has the Wynn been running frequent qualifiers in their poker room, but the tour’s free-to-play ClubWPT online site will be sending an army of players as well.
In total, ClubWPT awarded 27 players with a WPT World Championship package worth $12,000. That was in addition to 22 players who won a WPT Prime Championship ticket, and another seven players with a special events package.
“Since launching in 2008, ClubWPT has been an amazing way to get players from all walks of life more involved in poker,” said WPT CEO Adam Pliska. “[These] packages are the most prestigious prizes we have ever awarded on ClubWPT, and we are proud to host qualifying players at our 20th-anniversary celebration.”
A wide range of ClubWPT players will strap in to face off against the best in the world during the $10,400 main event, including Alaska’s Bruce Ramoth, playing in his first-ever live poker tournament, ClubWPT Player of the Year Mark Symons, 86-year-old Charles Ralston, and Tim Robins, a 38-year-old from Lincoln, Nebraska who will be making his tournament debut in Las Vegas.
Card Player caught up with Robins to get his thoughts on winning a seat to one of the biggest tournaments of all time.
Robins, who was born in Reno, Nevada and grew up in Kansas before settling in Nebraska, was the 18th player to win his seat on ClubWPT.
“I had been playing for play money chips on another site, but I got sick of that,” Robins said. “I started seeing commercials for ClubWPT, and decided to sign up. I did that for about a year, before upgrading to the Diamond membership after seeing all the tournaments I was missing out on. I knew I could take down one of those huge events, and as it turns out, I was right.”
Robins had to beat out about 400 others who had qualified for the special online event.
“About halfway through, I thought to myself, ‘I could win this thing.’ When I got heads-up, he had 3.5 million to my 500,000, but I won four hands in a row to win the tournament. I think that guy who got second smashed his laptop and put a couple holes in the wall.”
This will be Robins’ first official trip to Las Vegas.
“My mom told me that I was in Vegas when I was nine months old, so not too many memories,” he recalled.
Although this will be by far the biggest tournament he has ever played, Robins has been playing for quite some time. He grew up playing games like five-card draw, pinnochle, and pitch, and discovered hold’em while in high school. He took a scholarship to play baseball in college, but started playing more poker while healing from a blown out rotator cuff.
Robins currently works in logistics for distribution center at Kelly Supply Company, a job he has had for eight years. But for a short while, it was poker that paid the bills.
“When I moved up to Lincoln I thought I had a job lined up, but that fell through,” he said. “So for a few weeks, I was playing bar poker to put food in my stomach and gas in the car. I ended up playing a lot of bar poker. I mean, it was only $50 to $100 to the winner, but I was doing well. I remember one night when I took down both sessions.”
Robins has only played in an actual casino on a handful of occasions, but joked that he is on a bit of a winning streak.
“I just played last week, sitting down at a $1-$3 table. I bought in for $300 and walked out with over $500. That was the first time I had played live poker since November of 2021, which was at the same table. That time I played three hours and I had ran it up to over $1,200. But cash games are kind of boring for me. I love tournament poker.”
He’ll get his opportunity for tournament glory this week at Wynn, where the winner will earn somewhere near mid-seven figures.
“My goal is to win the tournament. The numbers are against you, but that is the goal. I know it’s going to be a grind, but I’m ready for it.”
But Robins isn’t necessarily looking for an easy road to the final table, either.
“I would love to sit at a table with some pros,” he said. “I’m not intimidated by them. I’ve been watching them play for so long that I know their game and they don’t know mine. I know I’m an amateur and they are the pros, but I would still welcome the challenge. It would be great to sit with guys like the ‘Godfather of Poker’ Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, or Phil Ivey.”
You can read more about the $15 million guaranteed WPT World Championship here.