Live poker tournaments in the U.S.: Guide to upcoming events

Geoff Fisk
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Posted on 12/01/2020

2020 Winter Poker Open (Seminole Hard Rock Tampa Dec. 2-13)

Florida currently sets the backdrop for one of the busiest live tournament poker hubs in the U.S. in the pandemic era. The Seminole Hard Rock Tampa hosted the Pinktober Poker Open in October, and the turnout for that event indicated massive interest in large-field live tournaments for the Tampa, Florida poker room.

The guaranteed prize pool across all Pinktober Poker Open events was promised at $260,000, but attendance at the series pushed the awarded prizes over the $650,000 mark.

If that turnout is any prediction, the upcoming 2020 Winter Poker Open at the Seminole Hard Rock Tampa will produce some of the biggest live tournament fields seen in the latter half of 2020. The series runs Dec. 2-13, with eight events offered across nearly two weeks of play.

The Winter Poker Open culminates in a $1,700 buy-in Main Event, guaranteeing $200,000. The Main Event plays out with Day 1A taking place Dec. 10 and Day 1B playing out on Dec. 11. The surviving players from those two opening-day flights then come back for Day 2 Dec. 12.

The plan for Day 2 is for the tournament to play down to a champion, but the event could extend into a Day 3 if needed. Day 3 would be played Dec. 14.

Other tournaments of note at the Winter Poker Open include Event #2: $400 No Limit Hold’em. That event runs Dec. 3-6 with three opening flights, and the final day scheduled for Dec. 6

The Winter Poker Open begins with Event #1: $300 One Day $50,000 guaranteed on Dec. 2.

Aria High Roller Tournaments (Aria Casino Las Vegas Dec. 3-5)

The epicenter of high-stakes tournaments in the U.S. offers three days of high roller action later this week. The Aria High Roller tournaments return to the Las Vegas Strip property Dec. 3-5, running single-day tournaments on three consecutive nights.

All three tournaments come at a $10,500 buy-in, and will likely draw some of the toughest fields imaginable on the live tournament scene. This series normally runs regularly throughout the year, but due to COVID-19 considerations, hasn’t been offered since February.

MSPT Venetian DeepStack Extravaganza (Venetian Las Vegas Dec. 10-Jan. 10)

The Venetian Las Vegas poker room stands as the epicenter of live tournament poker in the western U.S. The Las Vegas Strip poker room ran its in-house series, the DeepStack Showdown, throughout September and October.

Following the DeepStack Showdown, the Mid States Poker Tour (MSPT) returned to the Venetian for its long running DeepStack Extravaganza in November. That series yielded an $1,100 Main Event and a $1,600 Main Event on back-to-back weekends, with both tournaments drawing more than 1,100 entries.

Following that success, the MSPT and Venetian team up again for another live series in December. The latest iteration of the MSPT Venetian DeepStack Extravaganza runs Dec. 10 through Jan. 10, running through into the new year.

The month long series sees the pinnacle of the live festival take place Jan. 1-3, as 2021 kicks off with what will likely be one of the biggest live tournaments of the winter at the Venetian.

That tournament comes in the form of the $1,100 MSPT Venetian Main Event, which guarantees $250,000. If November’s $1,100 Main Event is any indicator however, the latest edition of the $1,100 tournament will far surpass that quarter-million dollar guarantee.

November’s $1,100 MSPT Venetian Main Event saw 1,123 entries register, and the prize pool swelling to $1,089,310. Landon Tice took down the championship, earning a $201,529 payday in the victory.

Along with the Main Event, the MSPT Venetian DeepStack Extravaganza offers a pair of $200,000 guaranteed events along the way as the month of live tournaments plays out. The $600 NLH DoubleStack commences Dec. 27-28, and the series closes with another $200,000 guarantee, the $365 Monster Stack, Jan. 5-10.

The $365 Monster Stack features five Day 1 flights, with players emerging from those days coming back to play to a champion Jan. 10. With that in mind, this tournament will likely draw a massive field.

MSPT at Grand Falls Casino (Larchwood, IA Dec. 18-20)

The MSPT produced the first U.S.-based major live series in the COVID-19 era, bringing back the live game with the MSPT Grand Falls Casino series in Larchwood, IA in August. Much like the MSPT Venetian Main Events that came weeks later, the Grand Falls series drew massive player interest, resulting in record-setting prize pools for any Iowa live tournament in history.

Shortly after that successful event, the MSPT announced a return to Grand Falls Casino in December. The MSPT at Grand Falls Casino takes place Dec. 18-20, offering an $1,100 Main Event with a $200,000 guaranteed prize pool.

Located just outside of Sioux Falls, SD, Grand Falls Casino drew players from across the country for the August edition of its collaboration with the MSPT. With 518 entries, the tournament set attendance records for both the casino and the state of Iowa.

That big turnout pushed the total prize pool to $500,960, far exceeding the advertised $150,000 in cash awarded. Mark Collins, an Illinois resident, made the trip from the Land of Lincoln to the Sioux Falls area and won the tournament for a $107,706 payday.

Lucky Hearts Poker Open (Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood, Jan. 14-26)

The Lucky Hearts Poker Open plays as scheduled in January, with plenty of big prize money on the line. The 2021 edition of the event runs Jan. 14-26 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood, as Florida continues its run as the epicenter of live tournament poker on the east coast.

The series culminates with the first World Poker Tour Main Tour live event since March. The $3,500 buy-in WPT LHPO Main Event runs Jan. 22-26, with $1 million guaranteed on the line.

The Main Event features two starting flights, with Day 1A and 1B playing out on Jan 22-23. Players advancing from those flights come back to try to last through two more full days of action on Day 2 (Jan. 24) and Day 2 (Jan. 25).

The WPT LHPO Main Event plays to a champion Tuesday, Jan. 26. The WPT Main Tour officially returns to the U.S. with an online-only event on the partypoker US Network in December, but the Lucky Hearts Poker Open marks the first live WPT Main Tour event since March in the states.

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