A new level of excitement is waiting both poker and Esports fans following the acquisition of WPT by Black Ridge Acquisition Corp.
The deal, worth over $200 million also includes the acquisition of Allied Esports International, Inc. The two companies will be merged and will be renamed Allied Esports Entertainment, Inc. It will trade under “AESE” on NASDAQ.
Black Ridge will look to adopt the WPT business model and see if it works for Esports. A press release issued in relation to the new deal does not talk much about the poker side and mostly highlights the company’s Esports plans.
The acquisition, which is expected to be completed in early 2019, was approved by both boards. As part of the agreement, Ourgame will get $118 million in shares, and in turn, 3.8 million shares of Black Ridge will be sold to Ourgame for $11.50 per share, along with future stock options.
“Most Exciting Opportunity”
Black Ridge Director Lyle Berman, whose experience in the gaming and entertainment industry spans over 40 years was very excited with the acquisition and termed it the most exciting opportunity that he has come in his entire career. It is also worth noting that Berman was one of the founders of WPT. He, alongside Steve Lipscomb, built a strong foundation for WPT to be able to reach its current status as the world’s top televised gaming and entertainment brand.
Despite cutting ties with WPT a long time ago, Berman and Steve Lipscomb’s outstanding contributions to the company have been recognized, with each receiving a WPT Honors Award in April 2018.
Outlining the company’s plans following the deal, Berman said the capital from the Black Ridge SPAC will help AESE in expanding its property network all over the world. The company will also make use of its first-mover advantage in establishing a brand closely associated with Esports.
Board Composition
While the new deal paves the way for some key changes, individuals holding big roles in both WPT and Ourgame are still on board to steer AESE in the right direction. Frank Ng will quit his role as CEO of Ourgame to take charge as CEO of AESE. Commenting on the new deal, Ng said the new venture is set to transform the company and will bring a whole new experience to the Esports community. It is poised to meet industry demands for a wide selection of Esports entertainment products with a global reach.
Meanwhile, Adam Pliska will hold on to his position as President and CEO of WPT while also fulfilling the role of AESE President. He is joined by Vice Chairman Eric Yang, Chief Financial Officer Ken DeCubellis and Chief Operating Officer David Moon.
The new endeavor works by applying WPT’s proven business model to the rapidly growing global Esports business. This will result in a highly-sustainable business that’s well-positioned to benefit from Esports monetization.
The Future of Poker
Pliska offered an assurance that poker wouldn’t be left out and stated that opportunities for WPT will only increase following the deal. He stated that the WPT will remain committed to being a gold standard in the world of poker and will preserve its legacy for the years to come.
As the merger plans come into fruition, it is not exactly clear how the poker community will be affected in the long term. But Pilka’s statements are a reassurance that WPT will retain its status and will hopefully achieve the next level of growth by incorporating elements of Esports.
In May 2018, the WPT already hinted at major changes coming in for the company when it informed the press that poker and eSports complement each other. Integrating eSports into the world of poker will enable the latter to widen its reach, resulting in a potential crossover which AESE is hoping to capitalize from.
Poker players can expect changes as to how the final tables are played, with the world-class HyperX Esports Arena being an important part of the new WPT Esports model.
More developments will be announced soon as the company works out a plan on utilizing the Las Vegas arena to be that one place where poker and eSports meet. With a combined force, both platforms are expected to grow, benefiting from each other’s own strength.

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