DeepStack Showdown returns to the Venetian

Poker writer Geoff Fisk profile photo
Geoff Fisk
Posted on: September 08, 2020 07:13 PDT

Venetian poker room running live tournament series throughout September and October

The Venetian poker room continues an aggressive approach to the COVID-19 era of live poker in Las Vegas.

The Strip property announced the return of its long-running DeepStack Showdown, with the latest edition of the series running Sept. 7-27. Another DeepStack Showdown follows Oct. 5-18.

The Venetian poker room stands as the first venue to run a major live tournament series in Las Vegas since the COVID-19 pandemic halted live tournament poker in the US. Daily tournaments are up and running at the Venetian, Sahara, and other Las Vegas poker rooms, but the DeepStack Showdown marks the first major tournament series in Las Vegas since the mid-March COVID-19 shutdowns.

Both the September and October DeepStack Showdowns offer more than $400,000 across the multiple events in the series. The October edition of the DeepStack Showdown features $150,000 guaranteed prize pools in some events.

Venetian first to run a live tournament series in the pandemic era

The announcement of the pair of DeepStack Showdowns carries on the Venetian's reputation as one of the most aggressive live poker operators in the pandemic era.

The venue was one of the last Las Vegas poker rooms to shut down in March as the COVID-19 crisis began to take shape. Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak ordered all casinos to cease operations March 18, and authorized properties to reopen June 4.

The Venetian poker room wasted no time resuming operations after that, reopening June 5 with four-player max tables. As Las Vegas poker rooms slowly expanded the maximum player numbers per table, the Venetian has usually stood at the front of that curve.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board gave the Venetian poker room authorization to become the first Las Vegas venue to run eight-handed games, and by the end of July, all 32 tables were fitted with the necessary plexiglass dividers to offer eight-max games.

The return of the DeepStack Showdown marks the next step in the Venetian's efforts to bring live tournament poker back to something resembling pre-pandemic business.

Live tournament series could draw hundreds per event

The nature of live poker presents unique challenges during the COVID-19 crisis. While casinos across the US reopened over the summer in a limited capacity, some states still didn't allow poker room operations to resume.

Casino reopenings in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, didn't allow for poker rooms to resume business. In California, a ban on indoor entertainment venues shuttered more than 60 cardrooms in the state.

Nevada's poker rooms did get the green light to resume operations along with the rest of the casino floor when Gov. Sisolak gave the June 4 reopening clearance. Cash games, albeit short-handed, have been running on the Strip for several weeks.

Live tournament poker pushes the potential pandemic complications to another level, however. The cancellation of the 2020 World Series of Poker led to the creation of an online-only version of poker's most famous event.

US players yearning for the live poker experience are finally seeing some progress in the return of the live version of the game.

The Mid States Poker Tour ran the first major live tournament series in the U.S. since the COVID-19 shutdowns, in the form of the MSPT Grand Falls Casino series in late-August. The series drew record attendance, as players from across the country made the trip to Larchwood, IA (just outside of Sioux Falls, SD) for the first live tournament series in the U.S. in more than five months.

The October 2019 edition of the Venetian DeepStack Showdown saw more than 800 entries registered for the largest guarantee event in the series. With Las Vegas poker players able to enjoy a big live tournament poker series for the first time in more than five months, attendance at the upcoming DeepStack Showdowns could look similar.