Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Vegas Poker Scene (February Ante Up Column)

Here's my newest column for Ante Up.  The link for it on the Ante Up website is here.   Remember, my contribution is embedded in the entire West Coast report.  So below is just my Vegas report.  The magazine should be in your local poker room soon.

MGM GRAND: The poker room introduced a new promotion to start the year. Replacing all previous promos, it’s called Drive for Five. Players receive a card to use at the table while playing and it has five poker hands the player must make to win: two pair, three of a kind, a straight, a flush and a full house. It’s any two pair, any set, etc., not a specific rank. When a player wins a pot with one of those hands, that hand is stamped on the player’s card. When all five hands are stamped, the player receives $100. Only one card from the player’s hand needs play to qualify and the pot must contain $20.
If a player has a winning hand that could meet the requirements of more than one qualifying hand, only the best hand possible earns a stamp. In other words, if a player has a hand that makes both a straight and a flush, the player could only get a stamp for the flush.
As part of the promotion, drawings are every hour on the half-hour. One randomly selected player in a cash game wins a cash prize based on how many stamps they have on their card. If they have zero or one stamp, they win $25. If they have two or three stamps, they win $50. If they have a card with at least four stamps, they win $100.
This promo was introduced on a trial basis for January but early reports are it’s quite popular. The room may tweak some of the details going forward, but you can expect a version of this promo to be running for some time.
ARIA: Long-time Binion’s tournament director Paul Campbell has moved to Aria to manage the tournaments and he quickly made his first change.
The Friday and Saturday dailies will have $240 buy-ins. Players start with 20K chips. The levels are 30 minutes for the first 15 levels and then 40 minutes. Late registration and unlimited re-entry are available for the first six levels. The starting time is 11 a.m.
The popular $125 tournament still runs Sunday through Thursday at 1 and nightly at 7. The levels are 30 minutes throughout, the starting stack is 10K and late registration and unlimited re-entry is open through the fourth level.
BINION’S: The downtown room has changed its tournament schedule. Daytime events have moved to 1, including its popular weekend deepstack on Saturdays, which has a $10K guarantee.
The $160 buy-in event starts players with 20K chips and has 30-minute levels. Late and re-entry is open for four levels.
The rest of the week the 1 p.m. has a $100 buy-in for 15K chips and 20-minute levels, late and re-entry open for the first three levels.
The evening tournament moves to 7 with its turbo format of 15-minute levels and a 7K stack for a $70 buy-in. Late and re-entry is open for four levels.
PLANET HOLLYWOOD: The mid-Strip room started the year by announcing it was reducing the maximum rake from $5 to $4 per pot. The $1-$2 game is known for action. The buy-in is $100-$300 and straddles are allowed from any position. The under-the-gun straddle is $5, the button straddle is $10 and players can straddle from any position for $20. Every hour, pots are splashed for between $25 and $250. High-hand bonuses are $75 for quads, $150 for straight flushes and $500 for royals. A free buffet is offered for three hours of live play.
Ryan Laplante of Minnesota took first place in the December PHamous Poker Series weekend $565 main event, earning $46K. Maziar Keshavarzi of Texas grabbed $24K for second and Corey Hochman of Arizona took home $21K for third. The prize pool was $200K as 349 players entered.
The next PHamous Poker Series Weekend was scheduled for Jan. 28-30 with a $600 main event with starting days running Jan. 28-31, so if you get this in time, check it out.
LUXOR: The south-Strip room has been running a series of $100 “Preferred Players” periodically. They are $100 buy-ins with 30-minute levels and 10K stacks. In addition to the prize pool, various house-funded prizes are awarded, including gift cards, free tournament entries, free shows and food comps. The next one is Feb. 6 at 2 p.m.
BALLY’S: The World Series of Poker Circuit comes to Bally’s on Feb. 25-March 7. The series kicks off with a $250K guarantee, $365 event with six starting flights, two a day starting on Feb. 25. A $250 seniors event is March 3. The $1,675 main event has a $1 million guarantee and two starting flights beginning March 4.
VENETIAN: Deep Stack Extravaganza I runs through March 2. New for this series will be two “Double Stack” events that start players with 24K chips. The $400 buy-in event has 40-minute levels, a $100K guarantee and two starting flights beginning Feb. 11. The $300 buy-in is a one-day event with 30-minute levels and a $15K guarantee on Feb. 29.
A $250 PLO event runs Feb. 8 and a $250 Omaha/8 tournament is Feb. 22. Nightly events at 7 offer $200 and $300 buy-ins. All the tournaments and most of the satellites have guaranteed prize pools. More than $2.9M is guaranteed for the series.
The $1,600 main event has three starting flights beginning Feb. 18 and features a $750K guarantee.
GREEN VALLEY: The fourth annual Charity Poker Tournament for Kids will be Feb. 27, sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Green Valley. The top prize is an entry to the this year’s World Series of Poker Main Event.
BELLAGIO: The Five Diamond WPT Classic had 639 entrants for the $10,400 buy-in event for a prize pool of $6,198,000. Kevin Eyster ($1,587,000), William Jennings ($929K) and Benjamin Yu ($607K) took the top three prizes.


  1. Do you know that I read each of your columns when they come out each month? I have one request: that you do more interviews with the employees / people of the Vegas scene, like you've done in the past. Keep up the writing!

    1. Thanks very much, I appreciate that.

      As for the interviews, well I would love to do more column-length interviews like I have in the past (even tho they are a lot of work to do) but they no longer want that. Instead, they want those little 3-questions profiles that have no expiration date. I do those as needed, but I really dunno how interesting they are.


    1. Haha...we seem to go through this every month. No boobie pics when I run my Ante Up columns. Wouldn't be professional.

    2. what about yoga pants??????? #Cameltoeisclassy

    3. Hmmm...when I get to write about the first Vegas Poker room to offer yoga classes, for sure.

    4. Two things in life that are certain: Rob will write 10,000 words per post and angerisagift will immediately bellyache about there not being enough boobage in the post.

    5. You're supposed to read this for the articles, guys.

    6. y pokerr sucks BOOBIES RULE!!!!!!!!!!!

    7. Maybe you should look to see if there's a boobies blog out there somewhere?

      Maybe you should start one?