As the World Series comes to a close this month, things will be returning to normal in the Vegas poker scene, assuming “normal” and “Vegas” ever belong in the same sentence. All rooms running special tournament events revert to their regular schedules of cheaper buy-ins, smaller stacks and mostly hold’em. Finding a deuce-to-7 triple-draw tournament or one featuring Badugi-Badacey-Badeucy will be next to impossible.
But tourists come to play poker in Vegas all year, and there are, of course, plenty of regular tournament options.
Since so many of the special events feature their major tourneys at noon, let’s look at options players have for the regular tournaments around that time. Starting at 11 a.m., Treasure Island, Stratosphere, Bally’s, MGM and Mirage all offer smaller buy-in events.
Treasure Island’s $55 tournament offers 20-minute levels and 5,500 chips. Stratosphere’s $45 tournament starts with 4K chips and offers a $20 rebuy for another 4K stack. Bally’s $60 event starts with a 5K stack and has two guarantees ($750 pool and a $500 first-place prize). MGM costs $80 and starts with 6K chips. Mirage costs $60 for 4K chips with an optional $5 dealer add-on for 4K more chips. All of these events have 20-minute levels.
For the noon tournaments, we’ll venture off the Strip as far as the Orleans, the locals room closest to the Strip. This room has changed its afternoon tournaments recently, and offers Omaha/8 on Mondays and Wednesdays and hold’em the other days.
All afternoon tournaments are $60 for 6K chips (with optional $20 add-on for 2K chips) or $80 for 8K chips. The levels start at 20 minutes for both, but switch to 30 minutes after three levels for the hold’em tournaments only.
Also at noon, the Hard Rock has a $60 tournament for 9K chips, but offers another 1K for registering at least 30 minutes before the start.
The bigger rooms offer bigger noon tournaments. Caesars’ weekday tournament is $110 for 10K in chips and 20-minute levels.
Wynn has a $140 tournament Monday-Thursday with 30-minute levels and a 10K starting stack. On Fridays and Sundays it’s a $200 buy-in for the same starting stack, but there’s an optional $100 add-on for 5K in chips and they add a $10K guarantee prize pool. The Saturday tournament is $225 for 10K chips, but with 40-minute levels and a $25K guarantee. Also, there are unlimited $200 rebuys for 10K chips during the first four levels, and an optional $100 add-on for 5K chips.
The Venetian offers a $150 tournament Monday-Thursday with 12K chips and 30-minute levels. On Friday, it becomes a $200 bounty tournament ($25 for the bounties), same starting stack and levels. Saturday goes to $300 and 40-minute levels for the 12K stack. Sunday is $200 for 12K and 30-minute levels.
At 1 p.m., the biggest tournament is at the Aria. It runs daily and costs $125 for 10K chips. As with all the $100-plus tournaments discussed, this tournament attracts quite a few locals, many of whom are tough players. Be sure to bring your “A game” when you hit one of these.
Less expensive options at 1 p.m. include Excalibur, Mandalay Bay and Planet Hollywood.
Excalibur’s low-end tournament features 15-minute levels for a $40 buy-in that starts with 5K chips. Mandalay Bay offers a one-table tournament for $60 that offers 15-minute levels and starts with 6K chips. Planet Hollywood’s $70 tournament offers a $1K guaranteed prize pool, 20-minute levels and 6K chips.
There are plenty of tournament options at or near the Strip around lunch hour.
MEGA BEAT: Less than three months after it first hit, Caesars Entertainment’s Mega Beat Progressive jackpot hit again on June 5, and in the same room it hit the first time, Planet Hollywood. This time it was one of those classic pocket aces vs. pocket kings confrontations that for once had a happy ending for both players.
It was all-in preflop in a $1-$2 NLHE game. Imagine having those kings, flopping kings full of aces, and know you’re drawing dead. Then imagine seeing the case king hit the turn to know you’ve lost the hand, but you’ve won the bad-beat jackpot instead.
The losing kings earned $183K, while the aces settled for $91K, and the pot. The hand took place at 7:30 a.m., so only 105 players participated in the players’ share, each taking home nearly $6K for playing in one of the seven participating Caesars’ Vegas properties. The jackpot had grown to more than $904K, easily surpassing the $672K payout in March.
UPDATE: Since our June issue, the Orleans has changed its $1-$2 NLHE game to $1-$3.
CHANGES: Craig Lumpp has been named director of poker operations at the Bellagio. He replaces Doug Dalton, who moved on recently after many years. We are hoping to soon sit with Lumpp to discuss his plans for the venerable property.
RESULTS: The WSOP Warm-Up at Caesars Palace ended May 12. Two Las Vegas residents battled for the top prize of $12,095, with Ryan Whitney outlasting Eriz Davis. Davis received $8,355 for second place. Third place ($5,839) went to London’s Sunny Chattha. More than 80 players competed for the nearly $42K prize pool. … Bellagio hosted the WPT Five Star World Poker Classic in May. Chino Rheem of Los Angeles claimed the $1,150,297 top prize in the championship event. Las Vegas’s Erick Lindgren earned $650K as runner-up and Canada’s Jonathan Roy won $421K for third. Nearly 150 players entered the event, resulting in a $3.5 million prize pool.
— Rob Solomon is Ante Up’s Las Vegas Ambassador. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Robvegaspoker and read his blog at robvegaspoker.blogspot.com.