Angelica Hael is a busy woman.

She’s one of the top executives at the World Poker Tour, having worked at the company for more than a dozen years and now participating in and planning the Season XX finale. Her official title is Vice President of Global Tour Management, though that one title doesn’t fully describe the many hats she wears.

She is also the mother to two kids in Australia, where she and her husband and family live, but she maintains a schedule that keeps her connected to her coworkers in Los Angeles. And when she needs to be at the office, it’s quite a commute, as a direct flight – when available – takes approximately 14 hours.

Talking to Hael, though, reveals a woman who is grateful for technology and enjoys her job, seemingly more with each passing year.

Historic Celebration in Progress

Hael has always been happy to tell anyone and everyone about the World Poker Tour.

She would talk about the expansion of the tours to new countries and casino properties. She’d tell you about the gender equity at the WPT and the strides that the company has taken to include more women in the game, from the management side to the tournament fields. And don’t even get her started on the addition of more tour stops for WPT Prime and the WPT Main Tour in Australia.

This year, though, Hael has even more excitement in her voice.

All year, the World Poker Tour has been celebrating its 20th anniversary. (That’s the platinum anniversary, for anyone wanting to get the WPT a gift.)

Even more, the World Poker Tour is under new ownership. The company now runs a worldwide online poker site called WPT Global. WPTDeepStacks rebranded as WPT Prime. And for the first time, the WPT has several ambassadors representing it in different arenas: Steve Aoki in the music/entertainment realm, Doyle Brunson as the godfather of poker, and Andrew Neeme and Brad Owen in the cash game world in which they vlog.

And to cap off the year of firsts and twentieths, the World Poker Tour is hosting the Season XX finale in Las Vegas. The Wynn is the partner for the WPT World Championship.

Aiming High and Higher

The entirety of the year-end festival at Wynn Las Vegas will offer 23 official tournaments. Most of them will offer guarantees, which is unique for the WPT. More unique is the number of highlighted events.

  • Dec 1-4: $600 buy-in NLHE with 6 flights, 25K chips, $500K GTD
  • Dec 4: $600 buy-in NLHE (single day) 25K chips, $50K GTD
  • Dec 5: $600 buy-in HORSE (single day) 25K chips, $50K GTD
  • Dec 5-7: $600 buy-in NLHE with 2 flights, 25K chips, $200K GTD
  • Dec 6: $600 buy-in Limit Omaha-8 (single day) 25K chips, $50K GTD
  • Dec 7-8: $1,100 buy-in NLHE 50+ Seniors Championship (2 days) 30K chips, $200K GTD
  • Dec 7: $600 buy-in 5-Card PLO (single day) 25K chips, $50K GTD
  • Dec 8-19: $1,100 buy-in WPT Prime Championship with 3 flights, 30K chips, $2M GTD
  • Dec 8-9: $3K buy-in 8-Game Mix (2 days) 30K chips, $200K GTD
  • Dec 9: $600 buy-in PLO Turbo (single day) 25K chips, $50K GTD
  • Dec 10: $600 buy-in NLHE $1K Bounty Turbo (single day) 25K chips, $50K GTD
  • Dec 12-20: $10,400 buy-in WPT World Championship with 3 flights, 100K chips, $15M GTD
  • Dec 12-13: $1,100 buy-in HORSE Championship (2 days) 30K chips, $100K GTD
  • Dec 13-14: $1,100 buy-in Limit Omaha-8 Championship (2 days) 30K chips, $100K GTD
  • Dec 14: $1,600 buy-in NLHE $500 Bounty Turbo (single day) 30K chips, $100K GTD
  • Dec 15-16: $3K buy-in NLHE (2 days) 30K chips, $500K GTD
  • Dec 16-19: $1,600 buy-in NLHE Mystery Bounty with 3 flights, 30K chips, $2M GTD
  • Dec 16-18: $1,100 buy-in Ladies Championship (3 days) 30K chips, $200K GTD
  • Dec 16: $3K buy-in NLHE 6-Max (single day) 30K chips, $250K GTD
  • Dec 17: $5,200 buy-in NLHE Progressive Bounty (single day) 30K chips, $250K GTD
  • Dec 18: $10,500 buy-in NLHE High Roller (single day) 100K chips
  • Dec 19: $1,100 buy-in NLHE (single day) 25K chips, $200K GTD
  • Dec 19: $600 buy-in NLHE Tag Team Bomb Pot (single day) 40K chips, $50K GTD

While Hael had an important role in all decisions surrounding the WPT World Championship, she was instrumental in ensuring that the Ladies Championship was a prominent part of the schedule.

Hael hosted the Women’s Poker Summit in August 2018 in Los Angeles and invited women from all realms of the live poker environment as well as decision-makers in the industry. She was inspired by the ideas and energy behind the movement to bring more women into poker. And Hael wanted the WPT to be a big part of that progress. Just as she was implementing plans by offering more poker lessons at tournament stops and working toward more weekend-based women’s events, the pandemic stopped all of it.

“We were robbed,” Hael said. “That 2020 year set everything back.”

So, as they were planning Season 20 and working to make the finale a draw for players of all backgrounds and parts of the world, Hael knew that they had to do something more than offer a standard ladies’ event. It needed to be a championship event.

“We’ll televise it,” she said. “We decided to livestream the final table and televise it, feature it for the world to see. We want to tell 51% of the global population, a huge demographic, that this is important to us.”

Hael is even considering playing the Ladies Championship, too. “I may add some dead money to the prize pool,” she laughed.

WiPHoF Nomination

It should be no surprise that Hael is one of the final nominees for the Women in Poker Hall of Fame. She was shortlisted in the 2018 nominations as well.

While many in poker know her for year many years working with the World Poker Tour, they might be unaware that she started working at Crown Casino in Melbourne many years before. She worked for partypoker to oversee their global events, and she even founded her own consulting company, which allowed her to work with all types of gaming companies, including the Asian Poker Tour (APT).

Even with the previous nomination, Hael was taken by surprise by the WiPHoF shortlist again. “I have no poker game,” she laughed, saying that she doesn’t play enough poker. “I’m just flabbergasted. Maybe I am doing something that’s resonating with women in poker. The acknowledgement is so nice.”

No matter what happens with this nomination, Hael’s focus is on the December WPT Season XX finale.

“I want to do more. I want to rally the sisterhood in poker and for all of us to grow this game for women.” She paused for a moment. “Women are literally moving the needle forward in poker, working on all of these initiatives. But we still have a lot to do.”

This week, voting continues, though it will end in just a few days. The public is welcome to cast votes until then.