Where to Play: May 2012



Welcome to the first edition of the Tourney Tracks Tournament Guide, a monthly preview of the best upcoming tournaments in North America. In every issue we’ll be covering the best values and biggest tournament series for you. For more detailed information, please visit TourneyTracks.com.

May is traditionally a lull in the tournament poker world as players rest up and spend a little time with their families before the World Series of Poker starts, but the live tournament scene has grown so much over the past year that even the slowest months are filled with value.

East Coast

The World Series of Poker Circuit wraps up at Harrah’s Chester (Pa.), on May 7. Poker is growing in the Philadelphia area, so we expect large fields and large prize pools. The schedule is typical of the circuit, featuring multiple tournaments every day. Most events are $345 or $555, and a $1,080 buy-in event will run near the end of the series, followed by the $1,600 main event with a huge field.

Every stop on the circuit is a little different, and Chester features two events that should prove popular. The $230 seniors event is always a ton of fun. Also, the WSOP main event satellite on May 7 should draw well, giving players a chance to turn a $550 satellite into millions.


Harrah’s New Orleans will host the final WSOPC event of the season, with a number of $355 events and smaller satellites. Unique features include a seniors event, a High Heels Poker Tour tournament for the ladies, and two $355 satellites for the million-dollar buy-in One Drop event at the WSOP. If you win your way into the One Drop event you can spend the next month selling off action and still have 90 percent of yourself in the highest buy-in poker tournament in history.

•The Palm Beach Deep Stack Challenge starts May 12 at the Palm Beach Kennel Club in Florida and runs through May 21. Buy-ins are $130-$500 and all events have large starting stacks. Nearly every event has a significant guarantee, and fields should be large.

• Ebro (Fla.) Greyhound Park debuts its Emerald Coast Spring Classic from May 3-13. Buy-ins range from $55 to $550 for the main event, which begins May 12 at 2 p.m.

• The Stax Poker Lounge’s Summer Slam at Seminole Coconut Creek runs May 30-June 10 and is part of the WPT series.


The Heartland Poker Tour will be at the Majestic Star in Gary, Ind., starting May 4 for nearly two weeks, and fields in the area are historically large, with a recent WSOPC event in nearby Hammond drawing more than 1,600 players for its main event.

The Mid-States Poker Tour will be at the Northern Lights Casino in Walker, Minn., with a $100,000 guarantee for its $1,100 buy-in event.

The South Dakota State Championship will be at the Silverado-Franklin in Deadwood on May 9. Three starting days and a $1,100 buy-in indicates South Dakota is looking to get serious about tournament poker.


The World Poker Tour finishes up Season 10 with a bang at the WPT World Championship at the Bellagio in Las Vegas on May 4. The WPT Championship is one of the biggest events of the year, and with 23 days of tournaments, this year it’s huge. Multiple events per day and a wide range of buy-ins and games should provide something for everyone.

The buy-ins range from $330 to the $100,000 Super High Roller, including three $5,000 events and the $25,000 championship. The Bellagio and the WPT always do a great job with this event, and this year should be no different.
Unique events include a $1,000 seniors event, a $500 Position Poker event where the winner of the last pot gets the button every hand, and multiple Combine ‘Em events where players play three Day 1 flights and their total chip stacks are combined for Day 2. We’re looking forward to the ultra deep-stacked play on Day 2.

Caesars Las Vegas is running a WSOP Warm Up event (May 4-20), with smaller buy-ins than the concurrent WPT Championship. WSOP prelim-event seats will be added to every event.

Many events are only $130, with large guarantees and deep stacks. This series should be a great value for a smaller bankroll.

West Coast

The West Coast is usually a great place to find a poker tournament, but the pre WSOP lull hits hard in California. If you’re looking for great weather, skip California this month (unless you had your heart set on playing in the Commerce Casino’s California State Championship (begins May 2) and head to the Westin Hotel in Aruba for the Players Poker Challenge on May 3.

The end of May signals the beginning of the WSOP, and it will be a big job getting everything happening in Vegas packed into one article for the month of June, but we’ll have every major series and some recommendations about where to play this summer in Sin City.

Ante Up Magazine

Ante Up Magazine