Class of 2023 Reflect on Joining the WPT Champions Club
The names of WPT Champions Club members are immortalized not only on the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup trophy, but in the brains of poker players and fans all over the world.
WPT legends like Gus Hansen and Phil Ivey. Four-time champ Darren Elias. Defending WPT World Championship winner Eliot Hudon. All of whom have added a WPT title to their poker resume.
So far in 2023, the WPT has crowned seven new champions, and a special ceremony was hosted to mark the occasion at the Wynn.
|WPT Rolling Thunder
|WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown
|WPT Gardens Poker Championship
|WPT bestbet Scramble
|WPT Seminole Rock 'N' Roll Poker Open
The ceremony saw each champion receive a hand-made trophy designed by American artist Daniel Arsham. Announced earlier this year, the partnership with Arsham saw him design unique sculpture trophies, as well as a chip set and chip case design, as well as the feature table stage for WPT events.
Afterwards, PokerNews caught up with some of the champions to see how they reflect on their status as WPT Champions Club members
"It took me a week or two to actually realize," said WPT bestbet Scramble champion Frederic Normand. "It's awesome and it feels good. I feel like people usually win and then it kind of gets forgotten about. I think it's a good thing that they do a ceremony."
This sentiment was backed up by WPT Australia champion Richard Lee, who traveled all the way to Las Vegas for the WPT World Championship.
"When I won, my phone blew up with friends that hardly knew about poker," he said. "It feels great. I told myself after I won that I was never going to play another tournament, because I realized just how good you need to run in order to win one!
Read More About Daniel Arsham's Unique WPT Champion Trophies
"But coming back you get this feeling like you belong here. The WPT really takes care of their players, and as a result you want to keep playing more WPTs."
Playing more WPTs and using his newfound position as a WPT Champions Club member is also on the agenda for WPT Gardens Poker Championship winner Ky Nguyen.
"Poker's given me so much in my life, and I want to give back," said Nguyen. "The production from the WPT is top notch and it's really enjoyable to watch. They take very good care of their players and I'm definitely big into building upon relationships and just being part of the community.
"Being part of the WPT, traveling to stops, visiting new destinations and bringing it to more players is definitely my new goal."
One player who knows a bit about what it means to be a WPT Champions Club member is Jared Jaffee. Jaffee won his first WPT title in 2013 after he took down the WPT Jacksonville bestbet Fall Poker Scramble and followed that up in 2023 with a second WPT title at WPT Choctaw.
"Winning a major is a lot of fun," Jaffee told PokerNews. "Every now and again something comes up that's a pretty cool moment. But winning a second one is great.
"I probably thought I'd have a couple of others since I won my first; had a lot of close calls. When you get a little older, you're not sure how often it's gonna happen for you. So you've got to take your opportunities and enjoy it.
Head to the WPT World Championship Hub
"I never thought winning a WPT was a huge deal, but there are so many people who watch the WPT and follow it. For me, coming to these tournaments over the last year or two especially, a lot more people recognize me and there are a lot more fans of poker in general. And the WPT is the reason that so many people get into poker.