At long last, the Las Vegas poker community has a major live poker tournament to prepare for with the upcoming WPT Venetian. The $5,000 buy-in event kicks off at the late Sheldon Adelson’s property March 5 and concludes four days later.
The World Poker Tour is slowly bringing back some of its big events. Recently, the $3,500 Lucky Hearts Poker Open in Hollywood, Florida was a rousing success, with Ilyas Muradi beating out a whopping 1,573 entries to win $620,000 and the first WPT title in nearly a year.
Across the country, in Las Vegas, the poker capital of the world is but days away from hosting its biggest poker event in a full calendar year. Coincidentally, the 2020 WPT at Venetian was slated for almost one year ago but was canceled due to the global health pandemic.
This year, despite COVID-19 continuing to be an issue in the U.S., the Las Vegas Strip property is set to host a big event. WPT at Venetian has a $1.5 million guaranteed prize pool, and you can expect many of the top players in the world to come out for it.
Day 1A kicks off on March 5 at 11:10 am, and Day 1B starts at the same time the following day. Registration is open until Level 9 on Day 1B, which should be around 8:40 pm. Players can’t enter on Day 2 (March 7). The final table is scheduled for March 9 at 2 pm.
The most recent WPT at Venetian, a $3,500 event at the time, took place in March 2019. Ben Palmer shipped the Champion’s Trophy and the $431,655 first place prize. He hasn’t cashed in a World Poker Tour event since that massive score. That was also the first and only WPT event ever at the Venetian.
This year’s event figures to attract a massive field. Many poker players have been starved to play in a big event like this for months. The coronavirus has taken a toll on the live poker scene, especially the major tournaments. Few big events have taken place in the U.S. since March 2020. But the good news is we’re slowly getting back to normalcy.
What’s new in Las Vegas
In Las Vegas, there are currently 20 poker rooms open, down from 31 pre-coronavirus. That includes the Venetian, which is set to host a World Poker Tour event and has spread numerous six-figure guarantee lower stakes events since December. Wynn, a neighboring casino, has also spread multiple six-figure guarantee tournaments in the past couple of months.
For those who can’t afford the steep $5,000 buy-in for the World Poker Tour event, there are plenty of daily tournaments under $200, many even under $100, all around town at casinos such as The Orleans (one of the top off-Strip poker rooms), Aria, and Bellagio.
Poker players will also find plenty of cash games these days, and most of the card rooms have eight-player games, up from a few months back when six-max was the norm due to social distancing guidelines.
You can expect the Las Vegas poker scene to continue growing over the coming weeks and months. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak recently announced casinos can increase capacity to 50 percent effective March 15. And on May 1 he will allow local governments to make their own decisions regarding COVID-19 restrictions. That means Clark County, home to Las Vegas, could drop capacity restrictions altogether in a couple of months.
That would certainly benefit the poker community as it would open up more seats and more poker tables around town for both cash games and tournaments. And, equally important, it could make it possible for the 2021 World Series of Poker to take place this summer or in the fall.
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