Top Stories of 2023, #8: The Return of the PokerStars NAPT

Top Stories of 2023, #8: The Return of the PokerStars NAPT

Twelve years is a long time in any industry, let alone in poker.

But after more than a decade, 2023 saw the return of the North American Poker Tour (NAPT). Announced by PokerStars in August this year it marked the triumphant return of the PokerStars live brand to the United States.

Sure there had been Road to PSPC in 2019, and the PokerStars Summer Series held in Philadelphia earlier this year, but the NAPT felt like much more of a statement.

But was it a success? That's what we asked VP of PokerStars North America Steve Preiss

"You can never predict how these things will go," he told PokerNews. "Was it a success? Yes. But we were relaunching a brand that had been dormant for around 12 years. Still, we ended up hitting every GTD and proudly re-introduced NAPT, and to a degree PokerStars as well, back to the thriving live event market."

NAPT Las Vegas Recap

In partnership with Resorts World Las Vegas, the NAPT slipped seamlessly back into the North American poker landscape and crowned its first champion in over a decade.

In the end, Sami Bechahed took down NAPT Las Vegas, beating a field of 1,095 players to win $268,945. The poker dealer topped a stacked final table that featured Sergio Aido, Nick Schulman and David Coleman before defeating Jonathan Borenstein heads-up to win the title.

(It took) a lot of patience. I dont know what to say, Im seriously so shaken, Bechahed told PokerNews after the win. Its surreal to me. I came out on top. Its surreal.

I came in as the chip leader, so I didnt have to be intimidated by anybody, he added. I have a lot of mad respect for all of them, but Im here to play poker. Im mostly playing poker to have fun but I take it very seriously. So, I came here to have fun, play my best game, and got really lucky.

NAPT Las Vegas Event Winners

In addition to Bechahed, there were plenty of notable winners from the NAPT Las Vegas festival. Jesse Lonis triumphed in the $10,300 NAPT Las Vegas Super High Roller, Samuel Laskowitz won the $5,300 NAPT Las Vegas High Roller and Timothy Rutherford walked away with the Mystery Bounty title.

Meanwhile, Hall of Famer Eli Elezra took down the $5,300 8-Game and Kyna England won the Women's Event.

$1,100 No Limit Hold'em - Deepstack144$138,240Kfir Nahum$23,735
$10,300 NAPT Super High Roller59$572,300Jesse Lonis$174,550
$360 Women's Event94$28,200Kyna England$7,520
$1,650 NAPT Las Vegas Main Event1,095$1,609,650Sami Bechahed$268,945
$550 Seniors Event87$41,760Soren Lundgren$8,257
$550 Pot Limit Omaha60$28,800Anthony Askey$8,000
$5,300 Pot Limit Omaha41$198,850Caleb Furth$68,605
$250 No Limit Hold'em159$32,595Benjamin Teston$6,193
$550 8-Game65$31,200Andrew Yeh$9,355
$550 PokerStars Cup692$332,160Cody Raymond$44,743
$5,300 8-Game32$155,200Eli Elezra$53,540
$5,300 NAPT High Roller150$727,500Samuel Laskowitz$180,850
$1,100 Mystery Bounty265$121,900Timothy Rutherford$24,650
$550 Limit Omaha 8 or Better46$22,080Vincent Calicchia$6,295
$250 No Limit Hold'em106$21,730Tyler Montoya$5,058
$360 No Limit Hold'em63$20,000Scott Hill$5,328
$1,100 Super Hyper Turbo41$50,000Griffin Benger$17,250

Player Experience Still Key

Ahead of the NAPT, Preiss was keen so stress just how much importance was being put on player experience, and emulating the PokerStars Live atmosphere that players all over the world had come to love.

"The overall player experience our Live Events team creates is unique in the US market," says Preiss. "From multiple offsite recreational events, to the player party, to the overall journey, reception and feedback was overwhelmingly positive.

"What I didnt anticipate though was how strong of an affinity players have for the NAPT and PokerStars brands. The amount of goodwill towards both was amazing. Makes you feel proud to wear the logos."

Future of the NAPT

So where does the brand go from here? Preiss says that PokerStars is always striving to learn and do better, especially heading into 2024.

"The US live poker market is booming. Players have a lot of great options and I like having that competition. It raises the bar for everyone and ultimately it's the players that benefit when everyone is raising their game.

"So what did we learn? Just because the feedback we received was positive, that doesnt mean we just roll out the same offering next year. We will continue to find ways, even if its minor additions or adjustments, to give our customers a compelling value proposition to play the NAPT."

Does this mean poker players can start booking in dates for multiple NAPT stops in 2024?

"Were still finalizing the exact dates and locations so I cant confirm anything just yet. But you can safely assume well be back in Las Vegas. I would like to see us up in Ontario next year as well. And I wouldnt be surprised if you saw PokerStars holding an event or two in states we operate in."


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How many decks are used in poker?

In most popular poker variants, such as Texas Hold'em and Omaha, a standard deck of 52 playing cards is used. Each deck contains four suits (hearts, diamonds, clubs, and spades) and consists of 13 ranks (Ace, 2 through 10, and the face cards: Jack, Queen, and King).

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