WPT Five Diamond struggles with lack of space

Jon Pill
Posted on: December 17, 2021 10:19 PST

The World Poker Tour's Five Diamond World Poker Classic Kicked off at the Bellagio this week. Though not everything went smoothly. The series's main event proved a victim of its own success, with large numbers of alternates forced to wait around for hours to get a seat. This was because the playing field was limited to just 300 players at once.

The Five Diamond main event is one of poker's most prestigious annual events. It is held in the legendary Bellagio poker room, which plays home to The Big Game in what used to be known as Bobby's Room.

The Bellagio's poker room holds 37 tables as standard — that's 296 players 8-handed. It would appear that the Bellagio's poker room staff weren't expecting to need much in the way of additional floor space. That seems reasonable at first glance. The omicron variant has people on edge and a tourney with a $10,400 buy-in would normally see a limited number of entries.

Even so, capping the field at 300 proved to be pessimistic. The event hasn't attracted fewer than 300 players since 2002. There were signs. The event allows unlimited rebuys making for lower turnover and a higher number of total entries. The Bellagio also struggled with the assigned space earlier in the series. The tournament director had to cancel Event #6 "due to space limitations."

Plus, the last time the Five Diamond ran (in 2019), it had 1,035 entries. In the end, the event attracted 716 entries, making for a prize pool of $6,945,200 and some long lines for alternates.

Big tourney in a little poker room

Among the 280 players who made Day 2 were big names like Brian Rast, Phil Hellmuth, Chris Moorman, Nate Silver, Xuan Liu, Erik Seidel, Jeff Platt, Jason Koon, and at least one of the David Bakers.

Several of these survivors, including Daniel Negreanu, took the Bellagio to task online over the way the event was run. The main complaint was the long waiting times for alternates, though mask mandates and the rebuy system made an appearance in the suggestion box too.

Negreanu took the Bellagio to task on Twitter where he wrote: "The @BellagioPoker used to be the center of the poker universe. Sadly, It is no longer a viable venue for a major tourney. Asking people to stand around like chooches as alternatives is a disgrace. [...]If you can’t make room to run a tourney properly you are better off not running it. It’s damaging to the brand, and Bellagio has destroyed theirs."

Dan Smith's issue was with the difficult rebuy system which he joked would cause players to "tighten up a bunch."

Negreanu also had a problem with the Bellagio's failure to enforce the poker room's mask-wearing mandate.

Other pros commented on this including Kitty Kuo. Sho claimed that when she asked one player to put his mask on properly, he offered the rest of the table $100 to bust her.

In the absence of support from the floor, Kuo countered by offering $500 to anyone who knocked the offender out.

WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic confirmed final table payouts

Position Player Name Payout
1st TBD $1,241,430
2nd TBD $827,620
3rd TBD $609,960
4th TBD $454,590
5th TBD $342,645
6th TBD $261,235
7th TBD $201,480
8th TBD $157,220

Featured image source: WPT on Flickr used under CC License