The details of this year’s World Poker Congress have been released including dates, places and a list of speakers. The yearly conference will be held from June 24th-25th at the Sheraton Hotel and Spa in Porto, Portugal and will feature panels and discussions on everything from expanding poker markets to tournament rules and standards to rakes and bonuses.
The Congress is designed to bring together business leaders from both online poker rooms and brick and mortar casinos to discuss the future of poker as a whole. This is the fourth year for the event and previous attendees have spoken highly of the networking and brainstorming opportunities the conference presents.
Day One of this year’s conference will focus on the growing poker markets in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. While tournament attendance has been dropping in the US, turnouts for events on other circuits like the Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT), European Poker Tour (EPT) and Asian Poker Tour (APT) have seen record highs. After sessions addressing each of the three areas listed, the conference will be divided into “live” and “online” poker interests, addressing televised poker, the link between poker players and sports bettors and developing player trust online.
The second day will focus on the ways in which live and online poker venues can team up to further the cause of the game.  With the recent launch of the PokerStars-sponsored poker room at the Grand Lisboa Casino in Macau, these discussions will likely address the benefits and drawbacks of similar types of strategic partnerships. Some of the speakers scheduled for the second day of the event include Paul Barnes of Devilfish Gaming and Markus Lind of the Ongame Network.
The event will culminate in a final panel entitled “Remaking the Poker Market.” The keynote speakers for this topic will be Steve Lipscomb, founder and CEO of the World Poker Tour and Jim Ryan, CEO of PartyGaming. According to the World Poker Congress’ official site, the pair will, “tackle the challenges of surviving and thriving in a poker market that is constantly evolving.” This is a topic that both gentlemen are well-qualified to speak on. Lipscomb has been an integral part of the ongoing success of the WPT, including the development of its subscription-based online poker room, ClubWPT, and recent expansion of the popular tour into locations like Venice and Marrakesh.
Ryan, who has served as PartyGaming’s CEO since June of 2008, also has his fair share of experience negotiating the changing tides of the online poker market. Prior to the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006, Party Poker was the most popular online poker room around, but after withdrawing from the US market in late 2006, the company has struggled to reach its previous level of success. The recent settlement between PartyGaming and the US government regarding their business dealings in the States prior to the UIGEA caused quite a stir in the poker world, prompting many to suggest that the company is preparing to re-enter the US market in the near future.
In a press release announcing the upcoming event, Lipscomb summed up the potential value of the Congress, explaining, “The World Poker Congress is simply not like other conferences. In attendance are the decision makers from the most exciting companies in the poker arena – and they are there to do business.” We’ll have to wait until June to see if the event will be able to get some business done, or, at the very least generate some discussion and ideas regarding the future of poker.

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