“We Already Are A Top 5 Poker Site” says WPT Global President

16 May 2024
Jonathan Raab 16 May 2024
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  • WPT Global President Alex Scott talks to PokerWired
  • Scott already considers WPT Global to be a top 5 poker site
  • Ambition to become the largest online poker site in the world
  • New countries expected to gain access to WPT Global in 2024
  • WPT Global loves having overlays in its online tournaments
WPT Global President Alex Scott
WPT Global is one of the newest online poker brands, but the WPT name (World Poker Tour) is one of the most prestigious and well established live poker brands in the world. The site opened for business just under two years ago, in spring 2022. Although it is a separate company to the WPT, it shares the brand and from player perspective, the two businesses appear to be one and the same. WPT Global supports the live tour with online satellites to WPT events, but primarily its a regular online poker site with the usual range of products, including cash games, tournaments and spins. 

Alex Scott, WPT Global President

Alex Scott is someone who worked in the poker industry for the best part of two decades, with significant stints at PokerStars and Microgaming, where he ultimately became managing director. He joined WPT Global as general manager in 2022 and in January 2024 he became president of the WPT Global board. PokerWired recently caught up with Alex to find out more about him, his previous experience in the poker industry, WPT Global and the challenges it faces to realise its ambition to become the biggest online poker site in the world.

Challenges and Visions

Firstly, I asked Alex some questions about his personal journey working in the poker industry and how it prepared him for his current role leading WPT Global.

How has your previous experience at Full Tilt, PokerStars and Microgaming helped position you for this role?

Alex Scott: Each of those positions has played a pivotal role in developing me as a professional, and influencing my approach to managing an online poker business.

PokerStars was my first ever full-time job - I started in an entry level position back in 2006, and worked my way up. I was struck by the company’s attitude to customer service - each of us, no matter how junior, was empowered to do whatever it took to make customers happy. Maximising rake wasn’t the main consideration; maximising customer satisfaction was.

Full Tilt was my next career move - I moved there to lead the product design function, designing new software features. At Full Tilt I learned a lot about effective software development, and what goes into building a fantastic product. I joined two months before Black Friday, which was the beginning of the end for the company, as they were insolvent and failed to protect player money. This also taught me a lot and I vowed never to repeat the mistakes that Full Tilt made.

Microgaming was quite different - poker was only a small part of the business, and had been running at a loss for years. There was nothing to lose, and I was given a huge amount of leeway and discretion in how to manage things. So we made bold changes, and experimented constantly, in an attempt to make things better for players and turn around the business.

I’ve taken something away from every one of these roles. From PokerStars, the approach to customer experience. From Full Tilt, how to build a great product (and how NOT to manage your money). From Microgaming, an agile approach to innovation and experimentation. I aspire to bring all of these things together at WPT Global.

Your first job in poker (correct me if I'm wrong) was as a brand manager for WPT. How does it feel to now be working with the same/associated brand again, albeit in a more senior role?

Alex Scott: It’s fantastic. I have always admired the World Poker Tour brand. I ‘grew up’ in poker playing home games with a WPT chip and card set, with the early WPT episodes on TV in the background. We all dreamed of going to WPT events and beating Gus Hansen or Doyle Brunson at the final table. It was, and remains, a brand that I love. I’m incredibly proud to be working with that brand and the team at WPT today.

Does it still feel fresh taking on a new challenge, given that you have been in the industry as long as you have?

Alex Scott: Absolutely. To be honest, after I left Microgaming, I thought it was unlikely that I would get back into poker, because I thought it would be almost impossible for any new startup to compete with the industry leaders. Either they had insufficient funding, or no liquidity, or no real marketing plan. 

Then WPT Global came out of nowhere, with an enormously ambitious plan to dominate online poker. An instantly-recognisable brand, plenty of cash, and an established liquidity pool to build on. Add to this that the company was a startup, with a startup mentality and approach to innovation and experimentation, and it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up.

Are you a poker player yourself and if so, what games do you like to play?

Alex Scott: I am! I love cash games the most as I really appreciate the convenience of jumping in and out whenever I want. When I learned to play poker, I learned the fundamentals really well and this helped me to adapt quickly to new game variants, so I’d have done well on WPT Global where we have straddles and bomb pots in many of our games. I do best when it’s a mixed game, because most people have games that they are strong at, and others that they are weak at, but I’m reasonably good at all the games.

At the peak of my online poker career I was winning at $10/$20 NL Hold’em, and I could beat the Stud games, especially Razz, at any stakes. But that was a long time ago and things have changed a lot since then! These days I play casually and stick to the micros or Spins SNGs. The games online have become so tough, which is why WPT Global’s approach to protecting the poker ecosystem- in which we keep the tables balanced between recreational players and pros - is so game-changing.

What is your greatest achievement/what are you most proud of achieving in your career so far?

Alex Scott: I’m very proud of introducing the Progressive Jackpot Sit & Go - a version of the Expresso / Spins concept with a progressive jackpot which is continually getting bigger. We launched this a couple of months ago at WPT Global under the name ‘Global Spins’. It’s the best version of this game available anywhere. The biggest prizes, with the lowest rake out of all our competitors. If you like Spins, playing our version is a no brainer.

Dreams and Reality

Next I asked Alex about his vision to steer WPT Global to becoming one of the biggest online poker sites in the world. He confidently proclaims that he believes they are already in the upper echelons of the online poker world, but are striving to grow further and ultimately they are aiming for the number one spot (currently occupied by GG Poker).

Can WPT Global become a top 5 poker site and if so, by when?

Alex Scott: We’re pretty confident that we already are a top five poker site, at least if you measure us in the usual way, by cash game traffic. We’re working with the PokerScout team so that they can track us accurately. 

If you measured us a different way, maybe we’d already be top 3, or perhaps even number 1. For example, imagine you measured poker sites by how easy it was to win there? GG, for example, has come under real scrutiny lately, after data showed that it’s impossible to win there, when you incorporate the high rake and how tough its player pool is. Even at Stars, with lower rake and better rewards than GG, players can only achieve minuscule win rates, in bb/100 terms. Stars catered heavily to pros for many years and this made the games extremely tough. Games like Zoom have been dying out completely.

But at WPT Global, thanks to our ecology protection efforts, players can sustain a much higher win rate with us than anywhere else. We balance the number of pros and recreational players in the games to ensure that every game is beatable, and we run unique game formats that encourage action. That creates a better experience for everyone, whether you’re a pro, or a casual player like me.

What are the biggest challenges that WPT Global faces to become a top 5 poker site?

Alex Scott: The network effects in poker are strong and there is a natural tendency for players to go where the prize pools are biggest, even if they’re not being treated well anymore. We want to change this mindset, and give players a strong alternative to the establishment, with clear reasons to try us out. That won’t be easy, but we’re working on it every day.

Then there is the challenge of regulation. We want to expand to more markets, but very few regulators are ‘startup friendly’. We want to build quickly, run experiments, and try new things. If we’re not careful, regulation will slow us down.

What is your dream ambition for WPT Global (to achieve) during your tenure?

Alex Scott: Of course we aspire to become the biggest online poker business in the industry. I think that’s achievable in the next few years, if we execute our vision extremely well, but I’m not taking it for granted.

WPT Global and WPT are not the same company, but both share the same customer facing brand name. Do you have shared objectives that you are working towards together?

Alex Scott: Yes, we have a shared vision, which is to make your poker dreams a reality!

Whatever your aspiration in poker is, we aspire to give you the means to achieve it. Maybe you want to rise to the top of the tournament pyramid, and be the best ever tournament player with the most winnings. WPT will help you to achieve that, both through the WPT series of live events, and our online tournaments at WPT Global.

Maybe you’re more of a social poker player and you want to meet interesting people playing poker. What better way than on the WPT Voyage, cruising through the Caribbean with 24/7 poker action to keep you entertained on sea days?

Maybe you’re starting out playing poker, and you want to become an excellent cash game player. WPT Global’s cash games are the juiciest and most action-packed around, so we are a fantastic place to start your poker career.
WPT Voyage

WPT Globality

While WPT Global clearly has global ambitions (its in the name), it is not yet available in all countries. Very few countries in Europe currently have access to WPT Global and it is not yet licensed in an US states. I asked Alex about this and what plans are to roll out the site in more countries. Although he doesn’t give much away on this issue, he does state that at least two new countries will gain access to WPT Global this year.  Personally, I hope that includes the UK and Malta.

It seems like WPT Global is a carrot being dangled in front of a donkey for players from many countries who don’t yet have access. Why has there been little expansion in the number of countries served by WPT Global? 

Alex Scott: We entered as many countries as we reasonably could in our initial launch. The remaining countries we plan to enter are regulated in various different ways, and to put it bluntly, there is no easy way to launch in these markets. Each country requires a unique approach, and often extensive technical and operational work is needed to get the licence.

WPT Global still has a startup culture - we are moving very quickly, experimenting and trying new things. Unfortunately, this mindset directly conflicts with many regulators, who are far from startup-friendly, and who are looking to licence large, long-established organisations with extensive processes and procedures, detailed reporting, enormous compliance teams, and so on.

When we start to move into regulated markets, it will undoubtedly slow us down (just as it has everybody else). This is why we’ve not prioritised it yet, preferring to work at a fast pace and innovate.

What are the top 5 country markets for WPT Global?

Alex Scott: To give a precise answer would be commercially-sensitive, however it won’t come as a surprise to anyone that we’re spending a lot of time on Canada, Brazil and Latin America.

What other countries have surprised you in their uptake of the client?

Alex ScottTo be honest, there haven’t been any big surprises. I’ve been around in this business long enough to know where there are opportunities and  sizable poker communities.

Which are the next few countries that we can expect to see added to WPT Global and what is the timeline for adding these?

Alex Scott: We expect to enter at least a couple new markets this year, but that’s all I’m prepared to say at the moment!

Why does WPT Global marketing focus heavily on US players/celebrities when the US is not a country that is served yet by WPT Global?

Alex Scott: This is more of a coincidence than a focus. Our primary goal was to sign ambassadors who have the biggest reach and influence in poker, and because the US is by far the largest poker market, many of the ambassadors we are looking for are either American, or spend time there. Of course some of these ambassadors also represent WPT as a whole, which hosts many important events in the United States.

While we have the English-speaking market pretty much covered, we’re always looking to expand our team of representatives who speak other languages as well, and you’ll definitely see growth in this area in the coming months

Software Inspection & Player Security

The next part of the conversation focused on WPT’s software and security policies. 

How do you think the WPT Global software compares with that of other online poker sites?

Alex Scott: Our software is new, fresh and simple. In many cases, our competitors’ software has become incredibly complex and confusing over the years - this is something we set out to address with the first versions.

Our product is also evolving quickly. On average, we’re releasing a new version every 2-3 weeks with changes and improvements. Some of those are simple improvements to performance and stability, others are new features like our recently launched ‘Global Spins’ - our unique take on the jackpot SNG, with an ever-increasing progressive jackpot.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of the software?

Alex Scott: Perhaps our biggest strength is our ecology management system. This system, grounded in modern AI, ensures that all players can maintain a reasonable win-rate in cash games, by reserving seats for recreational players and limiting the number of seats at any given table that can be occupied by pros. It’s akin to what a private game host would do - maintaining a healthy balance between highly-skilled pros, who keep the game running, and recreational players, without whom the game cannot be sustainable.

The result is that everybody, recreational and pro alike, have a better chance of winning and a better experience overall. Win rates at WPT Global are significantly higher than at our major competitors because of this.

Of course, as a relative newcomer, we don’t have all the comprehensive software features that you might see elsewhere. We don’t have Stud games, or infinite options for customising your experience. Right now, we’re focused on getting the basics right before we add further features and functionality in the future.

What are the key things you will be focusing on for software improvement/development?

Alex Scott: Our main focus is on improving the experience of recreational poker players. As a result we’ll be releasing some exciting new features that make the games even more exciting, for both cash games and tournaments.

Are there any new product features on the roadmap that you expect to be launched in 2024?

Alex Scott: Absolutely! You’ll be hearing more from us in the coming weeks, for sure.

To what extent do you proactively police bot usage and collusion?

Alex Scott: We invest enormously in this, alongside our technology provider A5 Labs. From the very beginning, A5 Labs has provided us with state-of-the-art, AI-driven proactive detection of collusion, bot use, RTA and all other forms of cheating. In my career in the industry, it’s the most advanced technology I’ve ever seen, and a team of around 50 people uses it to keep the games as safe and secure as possible by detecting and preventing all forms of cheating.

Over 99% of game integrity issues are identified proactively by our technology, with a tiny minority coming from player reports.

What is your policy regarding compensating players in cases of bot usage, collusion and other forms of cheating?

Alex Scott: Our aim is to completely reverse any harm caused by the cheating, so that no legitimate player suffers financially. Every cent confiscated from cheaters is refunded to players, and if this is not enough to put things right, we dip into our own funds to make up the difference.

Of course, players can also keep any winnings they make from playing against cheaters - we don’t reverse these hands! Sometimes cheaters are not as smart as you think…

Online Tournament Schedule, Player Promotions and Overlay

I then asked Alex about what’s on offer for players at WPT Global, what are the benefits of choosing to play at WPT Global and about their attitude to overlays. Based on his response, it’s fair to say that overlays will continue to be a thing for quite some time on WPT Global.

What plans are there for online festivals/one-off events in 2024 and are you able to share a rough schedule of when they might be happening?

Alex Scott: You can expect at least a quarterly tournament festival from us, in the same vein as our recent Fall and Winter Festivals. With each iteration, we become more ambitious and push the guarantees harder and further - often we’ll also add new tournament features and variants as well.
WPT Global KO Series
We also recently launched the KO Festival, a series of pure knockout bounty tournaments, with $2 million guaranteed across the series and a $250k main event.

I’m keeping the one-off events closer to my chest, but boy, we have some cool stuff coming up that players will be very excited about!

PokerWired: Will you be building a strategy around regular weekly tournaments and what are the headline figures that the site currently supports for the key Sunday tournaments?

Alex Scott: Yes! At the time of writing, our Sunday Majors are:

* Mini Slam - $11 buy-in with $10,000 guaranteed
* Sunday Slam - $110 buy-in with $66,550 guaranteed
* Grand Slam - $330 buy-in with $40,000 guaranteed

The exciting thing about these tournaments is that they are part of our ‘Lets Bump it Up’ promotion. Every time we hit the guarantee in one of these tournaments, we increase the guarantee by at least 10%!

What was the best performing promotion over the last year and why did it hit the mark so well?

Alex Scott: I don’t think it will come as a surprise, but the WPT World Championship promotions that we ran in the lead up to the event last year were very successful for us. We gave players many different ways to qualify for the event, from the usual satellites starting at micro-stakes buy-ins, to achievements-based promos. You could even qualify just by playing Pot Limit Omaha cash games, there was something for everyone.

Because the World Championship was such an incredible event in so many ways - not least of which the $40 million guarantee - the engagement with these promotions was fantastic.

Does WPT Global experience regular issues with overlay and what strategies do you have to counter this risk?

Alex Scott: Issues? We love overlay. That’s why we’re constantly bumping up our guarantees 🙂

(The WPT Global KO Series did indeed post significant overlays, with the main event missing by $27,200 and the mini main event by $13,000)

Live Events

My final round of questions for Alex was about live events, their importance to the site their plans for the upcoming year.

How important are live events for WPT Global as a poker site?

Alex Scott: Because of our partnership with WPT, live events are extremely important to us. As I mentioned earlier in this article, our shared goal with WPT is to make your poker dreams come true. For those who dream to make the final table of one of poker’s most prestigious events, there’s no better place to start than WPT Global.

A typical online poker site will have only a tiny percentage of its player base (less than 5%) engage in live event satellites. Is this different for WPT Global (due to the nature of the site being linked to one of the biggest live poker tours in the world)?

Alex Scott: Yes, a lot of players who join and play at WPT Global are interested in playing live events, and the satellites to those events are very popular. At the moment, we’re running the WPT Passport promotion, which allows you to qualify for a $12,400 package to the World Poker Tour event of your choice, and this is extremely popular.

Are there any plans to do any further WPT 500 events (hybrid online/live events that ran a few years ago)?

Alex Scott: Yes, absolutely, we’re calling these events ‘OnLive’. We ran such an event last year in Mexico and you can definitely expect to see more of them in future.

Would you consider running any low buy-in live events in European countries that you are already operating in, e.g. Ireland or Slovakia? 

Alex Scott: Yes! We’re working closely with our friends at WPT to bring events of all kinds to the countries that we operate in - whether it be the prestigious $10k main events that WPT is best known for, or more affordable $1k WPT Prime or $500 WPT500 events.

Will you be on board the Virgin Valiant Lady for the WPT Voyage and if so, do you fancy your chances against Vince Van Patten in the pickleball competition?

Alex Scott: As much as I’d love to be on board, this particular event takes place during the Easter holidays and I think my wife might murder me to death if I cancelled our holiday plans and left her alone with the kids (it’s an adults only cruise!)

I’d have no hope at beating ex tennis-pro Vince Van Patten at pickleball, no! I’d take my chances against him if we were tossing the caber though.

PokerWired: Thank you for taking the time to speak to us today, best of luck for the future and long live the overlays!

100% Rake in MTTS Returned in March

Shortly after this interview was conducted, WPT Global announced a new promotion for March, in which all mtt (multi-table-tournament) fees will be returned to players via three special freerolls, with a minimum of $600,000 guaranteed. 
WPT Global MTT Rakeback in March
New customers of WPT Global can claim a sign up matched first deposit bonus of up to $1200 by signing up using the WPT Global promo code NEWBONUS.

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