ClubWPT Qualifiers Treated to Movie Premiere, $3,500 Freeroll

ClubWPT Qualifiers Treated to Movie Premiere, $3,500 Freeroll

Buddy Frezza and the rest of the ClubWPT qualifiers had fun in Vegas last week.

Table Of Contents

  • The VIP Treatment
  • Bounty Freeroll Fun

While last week featured a VIP screening of World Poker Tour commentator Vince Van Patten’s new movie, "7 Days to Vegas", that wasn’t actually the first time the movie had been shown to select members of the public.

One day earlier, 22 ClubWPT qualifiers were treated to their own screening of the film, part of a VIP weekend of their own courtesy of the WPT staff and the company’s sweepstakes online game.

ClubWPT players went through a three-step qualifying process to try to win packages for the trip to Las Vegas. A handful of players from each qualifier advanced, with more than 20 players eventually winning packages valued at $1,500 apiece. The qualifiers were booked for three nights at South Point Hotel Casino Spa. Each got $600 in spending money and the opportunity to bring a plus-one for the trip.

The VIP Treatment

Festivities began on Sunday night with the WPT staff providing food and drinks and handing out swag bags to each of the qualifiers, announcing them along with their screen names on ClubWPT. Of course, that meant some of the players immediately recognized each other, and plenty of the chatter that ensued involved discussion of their qualification process and past hands played against one another.

The group was composed of a varied collection of personalities and poker experience levels.

David Stokes, an affable man from Louisiana who appropriately went by the moniker "Big Easy" online, was excited to be in Vegas for the first time. He eagerly introduced himself to his fellow qualifiers, thrilled to have been able to win a package online nearly a decade after he had stopped playing for real money due to the closure of the American market.

David Stokes at the WPT greeting party.
David ‘Big Easy’ Stokes enjoys the opening festivities with fellow qualifiers.

On the other hand, Buddy Frezza was no stranger to Sin City, having made the summer pilgrimage for the WSOP and booked a cash in 2018 in the Super Seniors. The 71-year-old gym owner from Florida had to take a break from his furious workout schedule, but he’d see to it that it would be a worthwhile trek across the country.

Everyone saddled up for a bus to the movie premiere the next evening, and things kicked off with the chance for everyone to hang out with the likes of "Raw Deal" host Phil Hellmuth and WPT CEO Adam Pliska, among others. Players frantically waved Hellmuth over to pose for photos in between enjoying food and drinks at Eclipse Theater‘s bar.

When it was time for the show, everyone filed into theater No. 4. Pliska thanked the ClubWPT qualifiers for their support, and the movie aired, much to the audience’s excitement. PokerNews’ full report on the film can be found here.

Afterward, folks fired in questions in a Q&A session with Van Patten.

Bounty Freeroll Fun

Of course, no trip to Vegas for a bunch of poker players would be complete without a little poker. Luckily for the ClubWPT qualifiers, the WPT team provided for them with a $3,500 freeroll featuring $100 bounties on select WPT personnel and "7 Days" cast members. The player who busted Van Patten himself would get triple bounty of $300.

With a quickly moving structure and the availability of bounties, the event was sure to move fast and provide plenty of action. As it would happen, Van Patten’s bounty would end up distributed three ways when three players, including Frezza, checked down against him and chopped the pot with identical pairs of aces.

Frezza’s success would continue onto the final table, and after some back-and-forth heads up, he was able to fade the flush draw of Rich Leonard following an all-in call with second pair on the flop.

Other qualifiers, who had busted and filtered out into the small-stakes cash games and the afternoon Omaha hi-lo tournament, came back over to offer congratulations to Frezza and pose in his winner’s photo.

Buddy Frezza
A delighted Frezza stares at the final board.

A short, well-muscled man, Frezza ranks among the most fit people in the world in his age group. He competes with athletes 30 years his junior in Crossfit and plays in a men’s baseball league where he counts former MLB star Dante Bichette as a teammate.

It seemed he could scarcely believe his good fortune, as he excitedly relayed to the WPT team how eager he was to roll over his winnings into more poker tournaments.

"I just love the competition," he told PokerNews afterward. "I have all the money I could ever spend in the world. I don’t do this for the money."

Nonetheless, he had added $1,300 plus whatever other bounties he grabbed to his bankroll, icing on the cake of three days worth of red carpet treatment courtesy of his efforts on ClubWPT.

Here’s a look at the qualifiers’ experience from the lens of the PokerNews video team:


To learn more about ClubWPT and start playing your own qualifiers, head on over to their website.

Photos courtesy of WPT

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  • A select group of ClubWPT qualifiers got the VIP treatment for three days in Las Vegas.

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