For the next four days at the Venetian in las Vegas, the high rollers of poker tournaments will be pitting their wits against each other. Thursday and Friday see two day-long $10ks, with the stakes rising on Saturday and Sunday to $25k for two more contests.
The tournament structure and format are somewhat unusual. Perhaps most notably, the events are rake-free for a single buy-in. Don’t expect to see this innovation anywhere else in Las Vegas.
All four tournaments are single-day affairs, bucking the usual trend for high buy-ins to use slow structures and multi-day formats. To facilitate this speedy resolution, the starting stack depth is low compared to other tournaments of this buy-in. The $10ks have a 100bb starting stack, while the $25ks begin at 125bb. Both employ 40-minute levels; shorter than the 60-minute ones in the upcoming high-roller $50k event at WSOP.
The primary reason these events can be done and dusted in half a day is likely the 30-second shot clock. All players’ actions must be completed within 30 seconds, unless they elect to use one of their six 30-second extensions. (The final six players receive an additional six such extensions.)
Many WSOP attendees have advocated for a shot clock at the annual series, if only to curtail the monologues of William Kassouf and other motor mouths. The time limit will be a comfortable one for online MTT players, but is rapid by the standards of live tournament play, particularly when facing a big all-in decision. Also of possible benefit to online specialists is the fact the tournaments will be played seven-handed until the final table of the surviving eight players.
The four events are part of an ongoing tour under the auspices of PokerGO. The most recent stop on the tour concluded only two days ago, and included former WSOP Main Event winner Joe McKeehen taking down the $25k event.
In addition to the impressive amounts of prize money, players on the PokerGO tour also compete for an overall leaderboard. Currently sitting atop the standings is Bosnian-born Ali Imsirovic, who is playing in today’s $10k at the Venetian. He won the corresponding tournament the first time the tour came to the casino on May 27th of this year. Perhaps surprisingly, only 13 other players were registered for the current event when “shuffle up and deal” was announced.
Once the action in Vegas wraps up, the tour heads seven thousand miles east to the next stop in Cyprus that begins on August 25th.