A heads-up match between Doug Polk and Tom Dwan will highlight the first round of matches in the $25,000 World Poker Tour heads-up championship.
The entire first round was drawn live on Polk’s YouTube channel Monday afternoon to decide the matchups that will pit some of poker’s best against one another, as well as a handful of celebrities, influencers and a couple of online qualifiers.
The event will take place on the Poker King platform, but the production staff and many players will be located in Cabo San Lucas. The entire tournament will be streamed on Twitch with the first round kicking off on June 18 and the finals wrapping up on June 22.
With 32 players in the field, only the top four finishers will earn a cash. Winning three matches will guarantee an in-the-money finish. The first four matches will be a best-of-three series with every player needing to defeat their opponent twice to move on. The finals, however, will have a best-of-five format.
The left side of the bracket features several influencers and celebrities. Aside from the Polk/Dwan matchup, the left side features high-stakes pro Dan Smith squaring off celebrity DJ Steve Aoki, Patrik Antonius matched up against Japanese pop star “GAKT” and Alexandra Botez up against “Hafu” in a battle of the streamers. Poker vlogger Brad Owen will take on poker pro Daniel Dvoress on the left side as well.
Botez is a chess prodigy, YouTuber and Twitch streamer, who has recently taken up poker over the last few years. “Hafu,” whose real name is Rumay Wang is a former professional gamer from Massachusetts that is also somewhat new to poker. She was a professional World of Warcraft, Bloodline Champions and Hearthstone player.
Everyone in the field ponied up $25,000, but this match carries a little extra weight as the three streamers in the field, Botez, Hafu, and “Shiphtur,” are part of a separate $20,000 last longer bet.
Shiphtur, whose real name is Danny Le, is a former professional League of Legends player drew the right side of the bracket and will face-off against three-time WPT champion and two-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Anthony Zinno in the first round.
If Zinno comes out on top in his matchup against Shiphtur, then the winner of the Botez/Hafu match will immediately win the last longer and profit an extra $40,000 on top of whatever they potentially cash for.
With many of the influencers and celebrities paired up on the left side, the right side of the bracket became a much tougher route to victory and will feature several top pros battling in the first round.
The two online qualifiers who secured spots in through a steps tournament on Poker King, will face-off against four-time WPT champion Darren Elias and online pro “ButtonClickr.” “Clickr” was one of the coaches that worked with Doug Polk in his $1.2 million victory against Daniel Negreanu. During the stream Monday, Polk said that he was the closest thing poker currently has to a prodigy as he has already won million online before the age of 21.
Other notable matches on the right side include Linus Loeliger versus Olivier Busquet, Nick Schulman against Chris Kruk, Nick Petrangelo versus Wiktor “Limitless” Malinowski and Phil Ivey against German pro Manig Loeser.