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Live Poker Eases Toward Normalcy

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Your guide to a summer filled with live poker play

By Sean Chaffin

 

Live poker is back, at least what most players regard as the normal version of the game—no partitions, no masks, friendly table talk and plenty of fun. This month, Casino Player looks at the returning face of live poker as well as a complete guide to poker tournaments in Las Vegas.

 

Summer Poker Guide

 

World Series of Poker officials have moved the annual live poker spectacle to the fall this year because of the Coronavirus pandemic. However, plenty of live poker action remains. Here’s a complete look at the upcoming series in Las Vegas and a few outside Nevada.

 

Wynn Summer Classic

The Wynn is hoping to fill the void left by the WSOP and the new “Wynn Millions” tournament highlights the Wynn Summer Classic. The series runs June 27 to July 12, with more than 30 events and big guarantees. The $10,000 Wynn Millions runs June 25 to July 2, with a $10 million guarantee.

“In its inaugural year, we expect the Wynn Millions to attract professional and seasoned amateur players from around the world,” executive director of poker operations Ryan Beauregard said. “We’re hopeful that the super-sized guarantee emphasizes our goal of making the Wynn Millions a staple event for years to come.”

The entire Wynn Summer Classic guarantees over $16 million and tournaments feature numerous poker variants. There are also seniors and ladies events planned as well. A few series highlights include:

  • $1,100 NLHE (June 28) – $1 million guaranteed
  • $600 NLHE (June 7) – $250,000 guaranteed
  • $1,600 NLHE (June 17) – $1 million guaranteed
  • $500 NLHE (June 10) – $500,000 guaranteed

For a complete schedule, visit www.wynnlasvegas.com.

 

Venetian DeepStack Series

The popular DeepStack Series returns with 121 events and a total of $15 million in guaranteed prize pools running through Aug.1. The $5,000 WPT Venetian tournament highlights the series from June

2-7, with $3 million guaranteed. A $2,400 WPTDeepStacks event is also set for June 9-13, with $2 million guaranteed. Players will also find seniors’ and ladies’ events as well as some Omaha tournaments. Here are a few other highlights:

  • $600 UltimateStack (June 27-30) – $250,000 guaranteed
  • $1,600 MSPT (June 10-14) – $2 million guaranteed
  • $800 UltimateStack (June 28 – July 1) – $400,000 guaranteed For a complete schedule, visit www.venetian.com.

 

Aria/PokerGO

Aria will host all the PokerGO Cup this summer at Aria Las Vegas with eight events running July 1-8 with each tournament streaming on the site. Aria also hosts the $100,000 buy-in PokerGO Heads- Up Championship on July 12 featuring a field of 32 players. For complete schedules visit PokerGO.com or PokerCentral.com.

 

World Poker Tour

The WPT is also returning to normal after a longer than expected Season XVIII. Live tournaments are back and a few are in the works this summer. The $3,500 Seminole Hard Rock Tampa begins Season XIX in Florida from June 18-22 with a $2 million guarantee.

The $3,700 WPT Choctaw then runs in Oklahoma from July 23-27 with a $1 million guarantee. For more events, visit www.wpt.com.

 

Orleans Summer Poker Series

The Orleans again offers summer action for anyone’s bankroll size with buy-ins ranging from $150-$600 and $2.5 million in guarantees. The series runs June 11 to July 22 and includes many different poker variations, from No Limit Hold ‘em to Pot Limit Omaha to Mixed games.

The Orleans caters to players of all levels and also  hosts a $400 Seniors Championship on June 13.  For more events, view the complete schedule at orleanscasino.com.

 

WSOP Online

For players in Nevada and New Jersey this summer, WSOP.com hosts the WSOP Online from July 1 to Aug. 1. The series awards 33 championship gold bracelets and is meant to fill the void with the WSOP moved to the fall. Two highlights are the $1,000 PLO Championship on July 26 and the $1,000 No Limit Hold ’em Championship on July 31.

WSOP.com is also hosting Online Circuit events each month throughout the year. The series awards players with championship gold rings and replaces traditional live WSOP Circuit series. Here’s a look at what to expect:

Summer Online Circuit – June 10-27

Ballys Online Circuit – July 16-27

Rio Online Circuit – August 20-31

 

Poker Rooms Ditching Plexiglass and Masks

Poker rooms across the country closed their doors during the Coronavirus pandemic before returning with Plexiglass dividers and mask requirements. Now with Americans getting vaccinated and states getting rid of mask requirements, poker has begun returning to normal.

Venues across the country have begun removing Plexiglass dividers and some have even made masks optional. In June, the Nevada Gaming Control Board approved several casinos to operate at 100 percent capacity. The Wynn was one of the first to remove dividers and move to full capacity for poker. With the World Series of Poker moved to the fall, the property also recently announced a new tournament s eries to fill some of that void (more on that below).

Other casinos have also eliminated Plexiglass in recent weeks according to the Las Vegas Review- Journal, including:

-Caesars properties: Bally’s, Caesars Palace, Flamingo and Planet Hollywood Resort.

-MGM Resorts properties: Aria, Bellagio and MGM Grand.

-Station Casinos properties: Boulder Station, Red Rock Resort and Santa Fe Station.

-Orleans (Boyd Gaming)

Masks are also optional for fully vaccinated players at some properties, including the Orleans. Other states have also lifted some restrictions including poker rooms in Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Texas. The moves also impact businesses and employees. Some dealers have struggled in recent months finding jobs and the game’s revival means the return to work for many.

According to the American Gaming Association, the casino industry produced revenue of more than $11 billion in the first quarter—a 21% increase from the fourth quarter of 2020. While poker has been available for the last several months, many players weren’t interested in playing behind Plexiglass. Some players find that style of poker impersonal and inhibiting. But the industry appears to be transitioning back to normal, and for many that’s a good thing.

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