Steve Lipscomb, Lyle Berman to Receive WPT Honors Award

The World Poker Tour announced this past week that it will honor both Steve Lipscomb and Lyle Berman with the WPT Honors Award, “representing outstanding contributions to the WPT and the greater poker community.”

“The WPT is deeply proud to present two extraordinary icons of our industry with the WPT Honors Award,” Adam Pliska, CEO of the World Poker Tour, said. “These Honorees represent the pioneering ingenuity and passionate leadership that has abundantly influenced poker. Mr. Steve Lipscomb and Mr. Lyle Berman brought poker to new heights with the creation of the World Poker Tour, and their passion and dedication have allowed the WPT to become what it is today.”

If you’re talking about “outstanding contributions to the WPT,” it all begins with Steve Lipscomb, literally. He was the one who dreamt up the idea of televising a live tournament series that visits different casinos. And though the World Series of Poker did have some television exposure, Lipscomb wanted to break televised poker out of the doldrums and show the audience the hole cards. It was a simple idea, but one that revolutionized how poker was presented to an audience, helping drive the early stages of the poker boom as more and more people became interested in the game.

Lipscomb was the founder and CEO of the World Poker Tour, but he didn’t just sit in an office and comb through financial reports. For the WPT’s first season, Lipscomb wrote, directed, and produced every single episode.

Steve Lipscomb is essentially a founding father of modern poker.

If Lipscomb was the brains – so to speak – behind the World Poker Tour, Lyle Berman was the bank. Berman worked for his dad’s leather business, Berman Buckskin, and then served as president and CEO when it was sold to W.R. Grace in 1979. Grace was then sold to the Melville Corporation, becoming Wilsons Leather. Berman was also chairman and CEO of the Rainforest Café the latter half of the 1990’s.

Berman’s path to the WPT really began in 1990, when he co-founded Grand Casinos, which operated casinos outside of the U.S. gambling hubs of Atlantic City and Las Vegas. He used the wealth he amassed to inject the World Poker Tour with its initial infusion of cash, becoming the company’s Chairman of the Board.

Berman isn’t just wallet, though. He has also been one of the most respected poker players in the world, playing in some of the toughest, richest cash games. Perhaps ironically, Berman has never won a World Poker Tour title, though he has made a final table. He has also won three World Series of Poker bracelets and finish fifth in the 1989 WSOP Main Event. Berman was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2002.

Lipscomb and Berman will be honored on May 22nd in a ceremony during the WPT Tournament of Champions festival in Las Vegas.

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