Lyle Berman, Steve Lipscomb to Receive WPT Honors Awards
Two of the people central to the founding of the long-running World Poker Tour will be presented with WPT Honors Awards, according to a statement released by the WPT. Receiving formal recognition for their contributions to the WPT’s creation, growth, and continuing success are Lyle Berman, the original financier behind the WPT’s formation, and WPT founder Steve Lipscomb, who first brought together the concept that would become the World Poker Tour.
The two men will be honored at a ceremony in Las Vegas on May 22, 2018 (time and location to be specified at a later date). The WPT schedules a couple of its most prominent events in late May at the Aria in Las Vegas, which is likely to be the site of the Honors Awards ceremony. The WPT’s Bobby Baldwin Classic runs May 20-23, 2018 at the Aria, and it’s followed by the WPT’s season-ending World Poker Championships, held May 24-26 at the same venue.
The WPT’s Honors Awards are a WPT-only bit of pomp and marketing designed to not only honor the worthy recipients, but, in a sense, to also help promote and market the WPT brand in a continuing way. Lipscomb and Berman are indeed pivotal figures central to the WPT’s explosion onto the poker scene back in 2002, quickly becoming a cable-TV fixture. The WPT has endured its ups and downs in the intervening years, yet it remains a powerful brand with a rich tradition and a continuing televised-poker presence.
Berman and Lipscomb are the fourth and fifth people associated with the WPT to receive the Honors Awards. The first such award was presented to Linda Johnson in February of 2017, and last July, Mike Sexton and Bruno Fitoussi received the same recognition.
Lipscomb’s vision was to merge the advent of hole-card cameras (actually developed and first used on a British poker show in 1999) for use on a traveling tour of branded events that would take place at destination casinos, first in the US and later around the globe. The concept found a home on the Travel Channel, where it became that network’s highest-rated program, and the WPT’s success was another element in the poker boom of the early ’00s, which is often too narrowly described as the “Moneymaker Effect.”
Lipscomb sold the concept to, among others, poker-playing businessman Berman, who had quite a career of his own. Before encountering Lipscomb and his WPT concept, Berman transformed his father’s leather company into a national retail chain (Wilson’s Leather), started his own casino-entertainment company (which would become Lakes Entertainment), and also found the time to play in some big poker tournaments, winning three WSOP bracelets along the way. Berman’s belief in the concept and willingness to bankroll the World Poker Tour’s startup was vital to the WPT being able to establish itself as the first true weekly staple offering of televised poker in the States.
Both Berman and Lipscomb have received other poker honors. Berman was elected to the Poker Hall of Fame in 2002, while Lipscomb was the first recipient of the American Poker Awards’ Lifetime Achievement Award.
“The WPT is deeply proud to present two extraordinary icons of our industry with the WPT Honors Award,” Adam Pliska, CEO of the World Poker Tour, said. “These Honorees represent the pioneering ingenuity and passionate leadership that has abundantly influenced poker. Mr. Steve Lipscomb and Mr. Lyle Berman brought poker to new heights with the creation of the World Poker Tour, and their passion and dedication have allowed the WPT to become what it is today.”