World Poker Tour luminaries Lyle Berman and Steve Lipscomb will receive the WPT Honors Award in a May 22, 2018 ceremony in Las Vegas.
The World Poker Tour® has announced the latest recipients of its WPT® Honors Award, given to people who have made enduring contributions to the WPT, among the oldest and longest-lasting televised poker series. The latest enshrinees are WPT founder Steve Lipscomb and prominent WPT financier and poker player Lyle Berman, who both played important roles in the WPT’s success and growth.
The ceremony honoring Lipscomb and Berman will be held May 22, 2018, in Las Vegas, prior to the WPT’s season-ending WPT Tournament of Champions festival in Las Vegas, to be held at Vegas’s Aria casino May 24-26. The specific time and venue for the ceremony have yet to be released.
A statement penned by the WPT’s Donnie Peters describes the two honorees as follows: “Mr. Lipscomb and Mr. Berman are legendary visionaries of our game. Passionate advocates for televised poker and driving forces behind the birth, foundation, and success of the WPT, Mr. Lipscomb and Mr. Berman played incredibly instrumental roles in poker’s history and growth, contributing tremendously to the advancement of poker around the globe.”
“The WPT is deeply proud to present two extraordinary icons of our industry with the WPT Honors Award,” added Adam Pliska, the WPT’s CEO. “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.”
Lipscomb and Berman will become the fourth and fifth honorees of what is, in addition to the awards themselves, an ongoing promotional effort supporting the World Poker Tour. The first WPT Honors Award was presented to the “First Lady of Poker”, Linda Johnson, last February, while longtime WPT fixtures Mike Sexton and Bruno Fitoussi were similarly feted last July.
Lipscomb the founder
Steve Lipscomb provided an important part of the vision that became the World Poker Tour, a branded and televised series of poker tourneys that in its first seasons was the Travel Channel’s highest rating offering. Lipscomb helped merge the idea of hole-card cameras with the concept of major poker tournaments being televised from varying venues, then successfully pitched the concept to the Travel Channel, its initial network home. Currently, the WPT is in its 16th season, has gone through three ownership iterations, and appears to have a stable future.
According to the WPT’s presser, “Mr. Lipscomb’s first official title with the World Poker Tour was CEO, but he was much more. Mr. Lipscomb was first the founder, and then when the very first season of the World Poker Tour debuted in 2002 Mr. Lipscomb wrote, directed, and produced every episode. For the first eight seasons of the WPT, Mr. Lipscomb directed and produced hundreds of hours of industry-leading programming, taking the World Poker Tour to the forefront of the poker industry.”
The WPT’s early-season broadcasts received near-global cable distribution and were certainly a factor in poker’s explosive growth last decade. Lipscomb himself was previously honored with the American Poker Awards’ first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award.
Berman the funder
Also fulfilling a critical role in the WPT’s early growth was Minnesota’s Lyle Berman, a multi-faceted businessman and poker player who would become the World Poker Tour’s CEO. Berman amassed his initial wealth by transforming his father’s leather company, Berman Buckskin, into the prominent Wilson’s Leather retail chain.
From there he invested in casino-style gaming, helping to form a company, Grand Casinos, designed to build casino-entertainment destinations outside the US’s initial hubs of Las Vegas and Atlantic City. That effort was later spun off into Berman’s own casino company, Lakes Entertainment, which gave him the financial muscle to help launch the WPT.
Berman was already a veteran of major poker tournament play – he’s won three WSOP bracelets and made a WPT final table – and he quickly became an ardent supporter of the planned adaption of hole-card, under-the-rail “lipstick” cameras for televised-poker use. The original concept came from an early British TV-poker series, “Late Night Poker”, where it debuted in 1999. It was adapted and partially patented for use in the US by inventor and poker player Henry Orenstein, who helped incorporate the revised hole-card cam into Lipscomb’s and Berman’s WPT vision.