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BACK IN BUSINESS: Venetian Launches First Major Las Vegas Live Tournament Series Since Casino Shutdowns

Sean Chaffin August 18, 2020 0 comments
The Venetian has launched the first post-pandemic major poker tournament series in Las Vegas.

Online poker has boomed since major tournament series shut down earlier this year because of the Coronavirus pandemic. At least one Las Vegas property is dipping its toes back in the tournament pool.

The Venetian announced this week that it would be running its DeepStack Showdown from Sept. 7-27. The series features 32 events with a total guarantee of $400,000.

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Another step for live poker in Las Vegas post-pandemic shutdown

The Venetian reopened its poker room on June 5 and shifted to eight-handed play in August. Players must still wear masks and Plexiglass dividers are placed between players.

 The property has been running daily tournaments in recent weeks. However, the DeepStack Showdown becomes the first major Las Vegas tournament series since the COVID-19 pandemic.

The series comes at a time when some casinos haven’t reopened poker rooms at all. Venetian tournament director Tommy LaRosa says players can expect a safe poker environment.

The property has put in place the Venetian Clean” commitment in response to the pandemic. The program includes 800 initiatives to enhance safety and minimize risk for our guests and employees.

“In the poker room, we require all players to sanitize their hands before sitting down at a table, so players will find hand sanitizer stations throughout the room,” LaRosa says.

“In addition, we are frequently wiping down the tables, chairs, plexiglass dividers, hard surfaces, and sanitizing the chips and cards. We continue to make changes that enhance our protocols to insure compliance and accountability.”

Part of the new protocols includes the temporary elimination of food service in the poker room. Tours like the World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour remain on hiatus and many will be watching to see how things turn out at the Venetian.

What does the Venetian have planned during the Showdown?

The Venetian is taking a measured approach to the latest series. Guarantees are about 50% less than events prior to March and the shutdown.

Despite that, the room has seen nice action since reopening. Poker room organizers are interested to see how the Showdown performs.

“Our one-day poker tournaments have seen tremendous support even with lower guarantees since we resumed on July 24,” LaRosa says. “We evaluate each DeepStack poker series and make adjustments as participation dictates.

“Players can expect the value, comfort, prize pools, experienced staff, and safety they have always known and experienced at The Venetian. We strive to provide guests and players with the experience they know and love, and we are encouraged by the excitement of our players.”

Players heading to the Venetian will find two daily events during the week that’s beefed up to three on Sundays. Buy-ins range from $125 to $400 with guarantees from $2,000 to $100,000.

Most events are No Limit Hold’em with a few Omaha tournaments mixed in. The $400 MonsterStack highlights the series and comes with a $100,000 guarantee.

That event kicks off the first of four starting flights on Sept. 23. For a complete schedule, click here.

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Casino pays out huge bad beat jackpot

The Venetian already made some news recently with a massive bad beat jackpot awarded at the poker room.

On a board of 6♥78, poker players Adam Lister and Yusuke Sawauchi got into a huge pot. The game was $1/3 No Limit Hold’em and both players put it all in after the river.

Lister noted on Twitter that it took a bit to realize what had actually happened.

 

Lister ended up losing the pot with 45 to Yusuke’s 910. However, the unlikely straight flush over straight flush saw Lister take home $166,000.

His opponent added $83,000 to his bankroll. Six other players at the table received $13,834 – not a bad payday all around.

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The Venetian Releases DeepStack Championship Poker Series Schedule

Matthew Clark March 8, 2018 0 comments
Venetian DeepStacks Extravaganza III

One of the biggest summer poker series in Las Vegas, Nevada is on the books for 2018. The Venetian DeepStack Championship Poker schedule features 150 events and more than $31 million in guarantees between May 14 and July 29. Players can expect a smorgasbord of events from the $200 buy-in level all the way up to $5,000. No Limit Hold’em dominates the schedule with Bounty, Big Blind Ante and everything in-between.

According to Venetian Tournament Director Tommy LaRosa, the $31 million in guarantees is what jumps out among the legion of tournaments.

“My goal was to create a schedule of can’t-miss poker tournaments that the players want to see and ultimately participate in,” LaRosa said. “The $31 million in guaranteed tournament prize pools is what stands out the most. It’s either the largest or close to the largest total guarantee ever offered.”

Venetian and MSPT expand partnership

The lone foothold for the Mid-States Poker Tour in Las Vegas is at The Venetian. The series plays branded events across the year. This summer, that schedule is expanded to five tournaments all of which include a live-streamed final table.

Buy-in levels for these events are $600, $1,100, $1,600, $3,500, and $5,000. The minimum guarantee is $1 million. Formerly, the $1,100 event was the only MSPT event on the schedule. This year’s guarantee for that tournament is a whopping $3,500,000.

LaRosa looks forward to what the live streaming aspect of final tables will do for the Venetian DeepStack series. This is the introduction of live streams to The Venetian’s repertoire of tournaments.

“This summer, The Venetian Poker Room and Mid-States Poker Tour team up for five events at various buy-in levels. All of these events will have ‘live’ reporting by the MSPT team for at least a portion of the event, and all of these Final Tables will be ‘live’ streamed at msptpoker.com.”

New convention space

The days of cramming thousands of players into The Venetian Poker Room and surrounding sportsbook are gone. This year, 103 tables are available in the Sands Expo Convention Center starting on Saturday, May 26. With up to four events running per day in the heart of the summer, players can look forward to maximized space and little to no lines for alternates.

Bring on the big blind ante

Players want the big blind ante in their events and The Venetian offers it in 16 tournaments this summer and is available at all buy-in levels. Certain $400, $600, and $1,100 single-day events carry the big blind ante along with the $3,500 MSPT event and the two $5,000 Main Events.

LaRosa took a practical approach to instituting the big blind ante to please the full spectrum of players who play Venetian Deepstack summer events.

“For me, it mostly came down to the one-day events where it is very important for players to maximize the number of hands they see,” LaRosa noted. “Of course, with the popularity of this format amongst a number of professional players, I chose to offer it with our highest buy-ins as well.”

Mixed Games represented

Demand for mixed games is on the mind of all Las Vegas operators when constructing the summer calendar. The Venetian has a strong quota of games to choose from with new Pot Limit Omaha variants fresh on the menu.

Single-day PLO and PLO/8 tournaments fill in a few days. The grand addition is the $1,600 PLO MonsterStack 8Max event. The three-day MTT opens on Friday, June 1 and carries a $250,000 guarantee with players starting at a stack of 35,000.

Other mixed events include H.O.R.S.E., OE, and PLO Progressive Bounty.

More new events to choose from

The Venetian is keeping players entertained with new tournaments across the summer. LaRosa looks forward to rolling the additions out with the PLO Monster Stack among his favorites.

“I think all four new MSPT events will be a huge hit, but I am also excited to offer a few new events including our $1,600 NLH (6Max) $750K guarantee, $1,600 PLO (6Max) $150K guarantee, $1,600 PLO MonsterStack (8Max) $250K guarantee, $1,100 NLH Summer Savers I and II; both with $1 million guarantees, as well as the $400 NLH NightStack with a $1 Million Guarantee, which should be one of the best valued events all summer.”

The Summer Savers that LaRosa speaks of match up against the end of the World Series of Poker schedule following the start of the Main Event. It will be interesting to see how the numbers from the respective series match up against one another with overlap among major events.

Keeping player feedback in mind

LaRosa is active on Twitter in responding to player feedback. Responses to various tweets inspired some of the makeup for the final draft of the Venetian Deepstack schedule.

“Player feedback is very important to me, which is why I seek their opinion every year on our twitter page @venetianpoker. I love to see the ideas they come up with and what events they are passionate about. If they are excited for an event, I just think it makes sense to try to offer it in some way.”

2018 DeepStack Championship Poker Series Schedule

Date Time Event Guarantee
May 14 12:00 PM $340 No Limit Hold’em DoubleStack Day 1A* $100,000
7:05 PM $200 No Limit Hold’em Progressive Bounty $9,000
May 15 12:00 PM $340 No Limit Hold’em DoubleStack Day 1B* $100,000
7:05 PM $200 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $9,000
May 16 12:00 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack (Big Blind Ante) $40,000
7:05 PM $200 No Limit Hold’em Rebuy $10,000
May 17 12:00 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack Day 1A* $150,000
7:05 PM $200 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $9,000
May 18 12:00 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack Day 1B* $150,000
7:05 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em Rebuy $17,000
May 19 12:00 PM $400 SuperStack Day 1C* $150,000
7:05 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $12,000
May 20 12:00 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em Rebuy $25,000
2:00 PM $400 Omaha 8/B $12,000
7:05 PM $200 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack $10,000
May 21 12:00 PM $340 No Limit Hold’em DoubleStack Day 1A* $100,000
7:05 PM $200 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $9,000
May 22 12:00 PM $340 No Limit Hold’em DoubleStack Day 1B* $100,000
7:05 PM $200 No Limit Hold’em Progressive Bounty $9,000
May 23 12:00 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack (Big Blind Ante) $40,000
7:05 PM $200 No Limit Hold’em Rebuy $10,000
May 24 12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack Day 1A* $250,000
7:05 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $15,000
May 25 12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack Day 1B* $250,000
7:05 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em Rebuy $25,000
May 26 12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack Day 1C* $250,000
2:00 PM $400 PLO $20,000
7:05 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $20,000
May 27 11:00 AM $400 No Limit Hold’em Seniors $25,000
12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack (Big Blind Ante) $75,000
2:00 PM $400 PLO 8/B $20,000
7:05 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack $25,000
May 28 11:00 AM $200 No Limit Hold’em Mega Satellite 5 Seats
12:00 PM $1,100 No Limit Hold’em Summer Kick Off Day 1A* $500,000
4:00 PM $600 Omaha 8/B Day 1A* $100,000
7:05 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $25,000
May 29 12:00 PM $1,100 No Limit Hold’em Summer Kick Off Day 1B* $500,000
4:00 PM $600 Omaha 8/B Day 1A* $100,000
7:05 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack $25,000
May 30 12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack (Big Blind Ante) $200,000
7:05 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $20,000
May 31 11:00 AM $600 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack Day 1A* $500,000
6:05 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em NightStack Day 1A* $1 Million
June 1 12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack Day 1B* $500,000
2:00 PM $1,600 PLO MonsterStack 8-Max (3 Day) $250,000
7:05 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em Progressive Bounty $25,000
June 2 12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack (Big Blind Ante) $100,000
4:00 PM $200 No Limit Hold’em Mega Satellite 5 Seats
7:05 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $25,000
June 3 11:00 AM $200 No Limit Hold’em Mega Satellite 5 Seats
12:00 PM $1,100 No Limit Hold’em MSPT Day 1A (3 Day) $3.5 Million
4:00 PM $600 H.O.R.S.E* $50,000
7:05 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack $25,000
June 4 12:00 PM $1,100 No Limit Hold’em MSPT Day 1B (3 Day) $3.5 Million
4:00 PM $200 No Limit Hold’em Mega Satellite 5 Seats
7:05 PM $1,100 No Limit Hold’em Turbo Progressive Bounty $75,000
June 5 12:00 PM $1,100 No Limit Hold’em MSPT Day 1C (3 Day) $3.5 Million
4:00 PM $800 PLO Bounty (8Max)* $88,888
7:05 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $75,000
June 6 12:00 PM $1,100 No Limit Hold’em MSPT Day 1D (3 Day) $3.5 Million
7:05 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $75,000
June 7 12:00 PM $1,100 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $400,000
4:00 PM $600 BIG O* $75,000
7:05 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em NightStack Day 1B* $1 Million
June 8 12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack* $400,000
7:05 PM $1,100 No Limit Hold’emTurbo $75,000
June 9 12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em MSPT Day 1A (3 Day) $1 Million
4:00 PM $800 PLO 8/B 8-Max* $88,888
7:05 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em Survivor $40,000
June 10 12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em MSPT Day 1B (3 Day) $1 Million
4:00 PM $1,600 PLO 6-Max* $150,000
7:05 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $75,000
June 11 12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em MSPT Day 1C (3 Day) $1 Million
7:05 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em Progressive Bounty $50,000
June 12 11:00 AM $600 No Limit Hold’em Seniors (50+) Day 1A* $600,000
1:00 PM $1,100 No Limit Hold’em DoubleStack* $250,000
7:05 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em Survivor $50,000
June 13 11:00 AM $600 No Limit Hold’em Seniors (50+) Day 1B* $600,000
1:00 PM $600 PLO 8/B $75,000
7:05 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $50,000
June 14 12:00 PM $1,600 No Limit Hold’em (6Max)* $750,000
6:05 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em NightStack Day 1C* $1 Million
7:05 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em Mega Satellite 5 Seats
June 15 11:00 AM $600 No Limit Hold’em Mega Satellite 5 Seats
12:00 PM $800 No Limit Hold’em 8-Max Day 1A* $800,000
2:00 PM $5,000 No Limit Hold’em MSPT (Big Blind Ante) (3 Day) $1 Million
7:05 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em Progressive Bounty $75,000
June 16 12:00 PM $800 No Limit Hold’em 8-Max Day 1B* $800,000
6:05 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack $75,000
10:00 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em SuperTurbo $10,000
June 17 12:00 PM $800 No Limit Hold’em 8-Max Day 1C* $800,000
4:00 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em Mega Satellite 5 Seats
7:05 PM $1,100 No Limit Hold’em Turbo $75,000
June 18 12:00 PM $1,600 No Limit Hold’em MSPT Day 1A (3 Day) $3 Million
4:00 PM $600 Omaha 8/B* $100,000
7:05 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $50,000
June 19 12:00 PM $1,600 No Limit Hold’em MSPT Day 1B (3 Day) $3 Million
4:00 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em Mega Satellite 5 Seats
7:05 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $75,000
June 20 12:00 PM $1,600 No Limit Hold’em MSPT Day 1C (3 Day) $3 Million
7:05 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack $50,000
June 21 12:00 PM $1,100 No Limit Hold’em Progressive Bounty $300,000
1:00 PM $600 Omaha 8B / STUD 8B $50,000
6:05 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em NightStack Day 1D* $1 Million
June 22 12:00 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em MonsterStack* $200,000
7:05 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $75,000
June 23 12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack Day 1A* $500,000
1:00 PM $1,100 PLO 8/B 8-Max $100,000
5:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack Day 1B* $500,000
10:00 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em SuperTurbo $10,000
June 24 12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack Day 1C* $500,000
4:00 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em Mega Satellite 5 Seats
6:05 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em NightStack Day 1E* $1 Million
June 25 12:00 PM $3,500 No Limit Hold’em MSPT Day 1A (Big Blind Ante) (4 Day) $3.5 Million
1:00 PM $1,100 PLO Bounty 6-Max $100,000
4:00 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em Mega Satellite 5 Seats
6:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack $75,000
June 26 11:00 AM $400 No Limit Hold’em Mega Satellite 5 Seats
12:00 PM $3,500 No Limit Hold’em MSPT Day 1B (Big Blind Ante) (4 Day) $3.5 Million
2:00 PM $500 No Limit Hold’em LIPS Ladies* $40,000
6:05 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em NightStack Day 1F* $1 Million
June 27 11:00 AM $400 No Limit Hold’em Mega Satellite Turbo 5 Seats
12:00 PM $3,500 No Limit Hold’em MSPT Day 1C (Big Blind Ante) (4 Day) $3.5 Million
6:05 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em NightStack Day 1G* $1 Million
June 28 12:00 PM $1,600 No Limit Hold’em Bounty* $700,000
7:05 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $50,000
June 29 12:00 PM $1,100 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack (Big Blind Ante) $400,000
6:05 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em NightStack Day 1H* $1 Million
June 30 12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em MonsterStack Day 1A* $750,000
1:00 PM $1,100 PLO 8/B* $100,000
5:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em MonsterStack Day 1B* $750,000
10:00 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em SuperTurbo $10,000
July 1 12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em MonsterStack Day 1C* $750,000
5:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em MonsterStack Day 1D* $750,000
July 2 12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em MonsterStack Day 1E* $750,000
1:00 PM $600 Omaha 8B / STUD 8B* $50,000
7:05 PM $1,100 No Limit Hold’em Turbo Progressive Bounty $75,000
July 3 12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack (Big Blind Ante) $200,000
1:00 PM $400 PLO Progressive Bounty $20,000
7:05 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em Turbo $40,000
July 4 12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack (Big Blind Ante) $200,000
4:00 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em Mega Satellite 5 Seats
7:05 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $40,000
July 5 12:00 PM $1,100 No Limit Hold’em Summer Saver I Day 1A (3 Day) $1 Million
1:00 PM $600 PLO / PLO 8B* $75,000
7:05 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $75,000
July 6 12:00 PM $1,100 No Limit Hold’em Summer Saver I Day 1B (3 Day) $1 Million
7:05 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em Progressive Bounty $75,000
July 7 1:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack* $200,000
July 8 12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack (Big Blind Ante) $200,000
7:05 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em Mega Satellite 5 Seats
July 9 11:00 AM $400 Omaha 8/B $20,000
12:00 PM $1,100 No Limit Hold’em Summer Saver II Day 1A (3 Day) $1 Million
7:05 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em Mega Satellite 5 Seats
July 10 12:00 PM $1,100 No Limit Hold’em Summer Saver II Day 1B (3 Day) $1 Million
July 11 1:00 PM $600 MonsterStack* $200,000
July 12 12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack (Big Blind Ante) $200,000
7:05 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em Survivor $50,000
July 13 11:00 AM $600 No Limit Hold’em Seniors SuperStack (50+)* $50,000
7:05 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em Mega Satellite 5 Seats
July 14 11:00 AM $600 No Limit Hold’em Mega Satellite 5 Seats
12:00 PM $5,000 No Limit Hold’em CPPT Day 1A (Big Blind Ante) (5 Day) $2 Million
7:05 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em Mega Satellite 5 Seats
July 15 12:00 PM $5,000 No Limit Hold’em CPPT Day 1B (Big Blind Ante) (5 Day) $2 Million
7:05 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em Mega Satellite 2 Seats
July 16 7:05 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em Progressive Bounty $15,000
July 17 12:00 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack (Big Blind Ante) $35,000
7:05 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack $25,000
July 18 12:00 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack (Big Blind Ante) $35,000
7:05 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $15,000
July 19 12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack Day 1A* $250,000
7:05 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack $25,000
July 20 12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack Day 1B* $250,000
7:05 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em Progressive Bounty $15,000
July 21 12:00 PM $600 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack Day 1C* $250,000
7:05 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $15,000
July 22 12:00 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em Rebuy $25,000
7:05 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack $25,000
July 23 12:00 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack (Big Blind Ante) $35,000
7:05 PM $200 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $9,000
July 24 12:00 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em Closer Day 1A* (Play down to 5%) $400,000
7:05 PM $200 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $9,000
July 25 12:00 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em Closer Day 1B* (Play down to 5%) $400,000
7:05 PM $200 No Limit Hold’em Rebuy $10,000
July 26 12:00 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em Closer Day 1C* (Play down to 5%) $400,000
7:05 PM $200 No Limit Hold’em Progressive Bounty $9,000
July 27 12:00 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em Closer Day 1D* (Play down to 5%) $400,000
7:05 PM $200 No Limit Hold’em Rebuy $12,000
July 28 12:00 PM $400 No Limit Hold’em Closer Day 1E* (Play down to 5%) $400,000
7:05 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em SuperStack $20,000
July 29 12:00 PM $300 No Limit Hold’em Rebuy $25,000
2:00 PM $400 PLO Bounty $12,000
7:05 PM $200 No Limit Hold’em Bounty $9,000

*two-day event

Cash To No Longer Play at Venetian’s Las Vegas Poker Room

John Mehaffey April 17, 2015 0 comments
Venetian Las Vegas

The largest poker room in Las Vegas is following the lead of MGM Resorts and Wynn.

The 59-table Venetian poker room will no longer allow cash to play in games.

The new policy will go into effect on May 1 at 9am.

Players will be required to purchase chips from the dealer or a chip runner. Chips being delivered by a runner will be considered in play.

Players will be required to purchase amounts of $2,000 or more at either the cashier cage in the poker room or the main one on the casino floor by the table game pits.

The new policy is disclosed on a sign placed at the podium by the cash game entrance.

As Chris Grove at Online Poker Report points out, these moves may be in response to a June 2014 speech from Jennifer Shasky Calvery, Director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

Calvery suggested that casinos find new ways to combat money laundering within their properties.

While this new policy may annoy some no limit players, there is some good news. Also on May 1, Venetian will drop its rake cap to $2. This promotion will run through May 24. The normal rake cap is $4. Venetian does not have a jackpot drop.

Venetian is owned by Las Vegas Sands. Sheldon Adelson, its founder and CEO, is a fierce opponent of online poker and other forms of gambling over the Internet.

Cash still plays at Caesars Entertainment poker rooms. There are no current plans to change that policy.

Comparing Venetian and Palazzo Games to New Jersey Sites

John Mehaffey December 15, 2014 0 comments

Venetian and Palazzo are owned by Las Vegas Sands. Sheldon Adelson, the company’s founder and CEO, is morally opposed to online gaming.  He has stated concerns pertaining to problem gambling as one of his reasons for wanting to ban the activity.

USPoker surveyed the games offered by Venetian and Palazzo to other Las Vegas Strip resorts and those spread by New Jersey casino sites to see where players have a better chance of winning or at least lose less money.

Blackjack

We previously reported that all Venetian and Palazzo blackjack games with a minimum bet under $50 now pay 6-5 on a natural. This adds 1.39% to the house edge compared to the standard 3-2 payout. While some casinos have pits or single deck games that pay 6-5, there are still other selections that pay 3-2 at every other Las Vegas Strip casino except Casino Royale, which only offers four comparable blackjack tables. Venetian and Palazzo offer dozens of 6-5 tables.  All are shoe games.

(Note: O’Sheas spreads only 6-5 blackjack but it is a bar within the Linq, which offers some 3-2 games.)

All but one traditional online blackjack game that we surveyed in New Jersey pays 3-2. The one that pays 6-5 returns 2-1 on a suited blackjack, which wipes out .57% of the 1.39% additional edge created by a 6-5 game. That New Jersey 6-5 game also has a minimum bet of just $.10.

Roulette

Blackjack is not the only table game where players receive a lower than expected return when compared to New Jersey sites or even competing Las Vegas casinos. Both Venetian and Palazzo offer roulette with just one zero for those willing to wager at least $25 per spin. This wheel is missing a rule standard at casinos owned by MGM Resorts and available at some New Jersey sites we surveyed.

These competing single zero roulette games offer “la partage”, which is a half-back rule. If the ball lands in the 0 well in a la partage game, the even money bets only lose half. The other half is returned to the player. At Venetian and Palazzo, all money is lost. This affects red/black, odd/even and low/high.

The online version of this game in New Jersey has a minimum bet of $1.

Big Wheel

If you love sucker games, you will want to run to the Big Six Wheel. All of the bets on the Big Six Wheel have a hold of at least 11%, according to Wizard of Odds. A couple of these wagers have a 24% house edge. You will not find this nonsense game at New Jersey sites. Las Vegas casinos that spread it generally keep it within party pits.

Casino War

Casino War is exactly as it sounds. It is a game played by kids that somehow made it to the casino floor. Venetian required a $15 minimum bet during our visit and it is dealt out of a shuffle machine. A player could easily play 10 hands a minute shorthanded and five at a full table.

The edge on the game is 2.9%, according to the Wizard of Odds as the Venetian does not use the favorable 2-1 bonus payout on the ante on a back-to-back tie.  A shorthanded player will theoretically lose $261 per hour at the minimum bet, based on an average of 10 hands per minute. A player at a full table receiving an average of five hands a minute will theoretically lose about $130 per hour.

Three New Jersey sites we surveyed offer this game. Each pays 2-1 on a back-to-back tie, lowering the house edge by .56%. The tie bet at New Jersey sites pays 11-1, while Venetian and Palazzo only pay 10-1.  The minimum bet at New Jersey sites for Casino War is $1.

Caribbean Stud

Venetian and Palazzo have four of the last five Caribbean Stud tables in Las Vegas. These tables had a $15 minimum bet during our survey, meaning that a player will essentially bet $45 per hand that he does not fold because a two times raise is required to play. The house edge on this game is 5.2% with an element of risk of 2.6%, assuming it is played with proper strategy. It also offers wild variance. Caribbean Stud is virtually a dead game everywhere due to its massive edge and bankroll requirements. It is not offered by any New Jersey site.

Video Poker

VPFree2.com is a great resource for video poker throughout the country. That site shows that the best video poker at Venetian and Palazzo is 9/5 Jacks or Better, which has a 1.55% hold with perfect play and five coins wagered.

Every video poker game that we surveyed in New Jersey offers a better return to players than the ones found in Venetian or Palazzo. The best is generally 9/6 Jacks or Better, with an edge one-third that of Venetian and Palazzo’s paytable for the same game.

Las Vegas Strip tourists will find 9/6 Jacks or Better or video poker with higher returns than that at 17 Strip casinos, according to VPFree2.com.  Virtually all downtown Las Vegas and locals casinos also spread better video poker than Venetian and Palazzo.

Historically Poor Return on Slots

A report in the 2000’s by Wizard of Odds showed Venetian spreading the worst slot payouts of any Las Vegas casino. Only the airport ranked lower out of 71 surveyed locations. Compare this to the standard 95% return at online slots.

Conclusion: Players have a better chance of winning at online casinos and most other Las Vegas casinos than they do at Venetian or Palazzo.

COMEBACK QUEST: Live Poker Tournaments Begin Returning with Safety Protocols; Challenges Still Ahead

Sean Chaffin September 15, 2020 0 comments
Some live poker tournaments have slowly begun returning.

It’s been months since players have enjoyed major live poker tournaments. Poker rooms in some states still haven’t returned, and the World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour have postponed events and focused efforts at promoting online events.

Despite a boom in online poker, many players are asking: when will live poker tournaments return? While a full poker circuit doesn’t seem likely any time soon, a few tours and casinos have made efforts to get back in the action.

The Coronavirus pandemic may currently have many players shut out, but there is some hope things may be slowly returning.

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MSPT gets back to the grind

In late August, the Mid-States Poker Tour became the first mid-major tour to get back to the felt. The MSPT hosted a $1,100 tournament at Grand Falls Casino in Larchwood, Iowa.

Organizers didn’t know exactly what to expect, but were surprised when the event produced 518 entries. That shattered the previous record of 238 and also set a state record for tournaments with buy-ins of $1,000 or more.

“The turnout was amazing and far exceeded expectations,” MSPT founder Bryan Mileski says. “Grand Falls is a beautiful property with great amenities, a hotel, and golf course. But it’s definitely a little bit more remote than a lot of tour stops, sitting outside Sioux Falls, South Dakota.”

Mileski says the event went well with a minor challenge of staffing for that many players. All players, dealers, and staff were required to wear masks.

Mark Collins won the MSPT Grand Falls event for $107,706. (photo courtesy MSPT)

Free masks were provided for players who didn’t have one and hand sanitizer was placed throughout the tournament area. The casino also reduced the number of tables for additional spacing. 

“I heard nothing but positive feedback,” Mileski says. “Everyone was cooperative wearing a mask, no issues there.

“The players were amazing and so happy to be back getting the opportunity to play. It’s probably the most positive and complimentary I’ve ever seen poker players, just excited to be back at it. Hopefully that lasts a little while.”

The turnout certainly shows that there is a demand among some players at least to get back to the tables. The MSPT has a few other events in the works, but is waiting to hear from properties before finalizing.

“Ultimately it’s day to day,” Mileski says. “All properties have to adhere to their own state guidelines for operation and running poker tournaments.”

Venetian brings tournament series back to Las Vegas with huge results

In August, the Venetian in Las Vegas announced it would be running a festival in September. The DeepStack Showdown runs through Sept. 27 and features 32 events with a total guarantee of $400,000.

The festival has become the first major Las Vegas poker series since Nevada casinos reopened on June 4. The Venetian reopened its poker room on June 5 and has seen a regular flow of customers at eight-handed tables.

Players must wear masks and Plexiglass dividers are placed between players. Poker room organizers reduced guarantees, but were hopeful on a nice return.

“Our one-day poker tournaments have seen tremendous support even with lower guarantees since we resumed on July 24,” tournament director Tommy LaRosa told USPoker. “We evaluate each DeepStack poker series and make adjustments as participation dictates.”

So far, the efforts seem to be working. Most events have shattered expectations –  doubling or tripling the guarantees. Some have even gone beyond that. The $400 MonsterStack which topped the $50,000 guarantee with a prize pool of $219,447.

The property has already announced another DeepStack Showdown in October with more than $400,000 guaranteed. The MSPT will also be making another Vegas stop at the Venetian in November.

Other Sin City casinos have been running daily tournaments as well. It’s a good bet some of those will follow the Venetian’s tournament series path soon.

Seminole Hard Rock casinos gear up in Florida

Florida has been a poker hotspot over the last decade and the Seminole casinos have been a big part of that. The properties host the WPT, WSOP Circuit, and their own branded tournament series.

The Tampa facility opened on May 21 and experienced a big demand for poker on opening night. Coconut Creek and Hollywood opened on June 12 with a strong demand as well. All properties have experienced increased player turnout in the intervening weeks.

Daily tournaments are also now ongoing at all three poker rooms as of Aug. 1. Those numbers have been solid as well.

The properties are now planning on being part of tournament poker’s revival. The Tampa Hard Rock will host the Pinktober Poker Open on Oct. 7-18 with four events and $250,000 guaranteed. A portion of every buy-in goes to the American Cancer Society to fight breast cancer.

That property will also host the Winter Poker Open on Dec 2-14 with six events and $450,000 guaranteed.  At the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, the Ninth Annual Fun in the Sun series is planned for Dec. 26-30.

All series will be held in the poker room under the company’s “Safe & Sound” program. That involves stringent safety protocols including mandatory masks, temperature checks, physical distancing, frequent cleaning, and the use of state-of-the-art air filtration systems.

The state has seen decreasing COVID-19 hospitalizations, deaths, and cases in recent weeks. If that continues, the tournament series could see even bigger turnouts than expected.

WPT tests tournament waters in Asia

Larger tours seem to be taking a more cautious approach. After postponing the live WSOP in Las Vegas to the fall, organizers haven’t commented on when the series might return.

The WPT also has postponed events on its Main Tour and other brands. However, the company ran the WPT Japan in August at the Hotel Gajoen in Tokyo.

A look at the final table at the recent WPT Japan. (photo courtesy Japan Poker Union)

Gambling is illegal in Japan, so players participate by playing in satellites at poker bars and clubs throughout the country. WPT and tournament organizers were pleased with the turnout – a record 726 entries.

That’s an increase of 35% from last year. The WPT and hotel had numerous safety protocols in place including:

  • Mandatory mask usage
  • Temperature checks
  • Disinfection procedures
  • Acrylic partition dividers at registration
  • Players bringing their own bottled drinks

 What about American events? None have been announced yet. WPTDeepStacks director Cathy Zhao says the WPT season always concludes after the Tournament of Champions.

WPT organizers plan to continue with that format to conclude Season XVIII. However, the timeline for that tournament remains unconfirmed. Tour officials continue working with casino partners to find a home and date for the event when it’s safe.

“As always, WPT will look to our casino partners to help guide the return to live poker events,” Zhao says. “We are optimistic about future events.”

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Challenges remain, but poker rooms continue reopening

While some tournaments have returned, there are still some obstacles ahead. While many states have seen Coronavirus deaths and hospitalizations decline, fear of additional cases remains. 

Some players may be hesitant to return to live poker at a casino even as some events see large turnouts. 

Travel is also a problem. Many players might be hesitant to fly at the moment and international poker travel isn’t possible at the moment.

Most reopened poker rooms have strict safety measures in place like Plexiglass table dividers and mask mandates. Poker is a social game and many players may not feel comfortable in that environment.

Other states are also seeing poker return including Texas growing number of poker clubs. However, some states and properties are taking different approaches than Iowa and Nevada.

Pennsylvania hasn’t allowed poker rooms to reopen at all. And while not officially barred, none of the New Jersey poker rooms have reopened.

But as more properties and tours return, there seems to be a path forward. It will simply take some time and adjustment.

POKER POST-LOCKDOWN: An Insider’s Look at the Reopened Bellagio Poker Room

Fairway Jay June 25, 2020 0 comments
USPoker offers an inside look at the reopened Bellagio poker room.

With live poker reopening, one of MGM’s major poker properties is taking a lead in the efforts for the game’s return. The Bellagio became the second Las Vegas Strip property to reopen its poker room last week.

The casino joins the Venetian and Caesars Palace, which opened the same day as Bellagio on June 18. Players will find six-handed poker with plexiglass partitions between players in a more spacious table and room environment.

On June 20, USPoker spoke with Bellagio director of poker room operations Mike Williams on site. The property is making an effort to return to normal as much as possible.

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Live poker post-pandemic

After months of casino closings, poker room managers are moving to get players back to the tables. State guidelines call for five-handed play at poker rooms without dividers or plexiglass partitions.

However, the  Nevada Gaming Control Board approved Bellagio’s request for six-handed poker games with partitions.

Upon entering the poker room, guests are greeted by service staff at an open and spacious entryway. Players are seated by staff when a table has an opening, often with no wait depending on game and time.

There is a waiting list screen mounted to the wooden wall structure outside the poker room entryway. Players can also get poker room and game updates on the Bravo Poker app.

The poker room now has 23 poker tables, down from 37, and is open for play 24 hours a day. On Saturday, the spacious room had 16 tables running with more than half spreading $1-3 and $2-5 No-Limit Hold’em.

The Bellagio is one of the few Vegas rooms regularly offering more high-limit games. There were also $5-10, $10-20, and $20-40 No Limit Hold’em games and a $1-2 Pot Limit Omaha (PLO). Staff also offered a waiting list for high-limit mixed games.

Players returning to a safe environment

Williams noted a number of regular players have returned. The property has numerous cleanliness protocols in place. Dealers are wearing masks and sanitizing the playing area and seats for new players. 

“The feedback has been very positive from the players and guests,” Williams said. “The poker room is swapping playing cards every four hours. The cards and poker chips are disinfected by the property on schedule.”

The plexiglass partitions provide better health and safety measures while meeting social and physical distancing guidelines.

One Bellagio guest said the clear dividers are “less intrusive and preferred” over no partition.

On June 24, the state added a mandate for players to wear masks. The previous rule called for masks if there are no plexiglass partitions. Nearly half the players at Bellagio wore masks on Saturday before the new rule.

New perks welcome Bellagio players

Expensive parking fees have long been a complaint of casino players. Williams noted guests will now find free self parking and free cocktail service. However, no food or non-playing poker guests are allowed in the poker room per safety guidelines.

Williams previously worked as poker room manager at Aria, another MGM property on the Las Vegas Strip. Aria hasn’t announced a reopening date yet.

While at Aria, Williams noted the growing interest in PLO and plans to offer more games at Bellagio. 

“It’s better when a poker room can expand and have more games,” he said. “We want to grow the $1-2 PLO game at Bellagio.”    

TV screens remain mounted throughout the Bellagio poker room. Sports bettors are in luck with one of Las Vegas premier sportsbooks adjacent to the facility. 

Checking out the day’s sports action, horse racing, and odds screens is simple. Wagering windows are available and bettors can also use the BetMGM app while playing poker.

The sports bar lounge is right outside the poker room and was also active on Belmont Stakes day, but with fewer masks noted. Guests enjoyed cocktails and some spacious interaction.

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Live poker’s return comes after major online growth

While online poker has seen substantial growth during the COVID-19 crisis, it’s encouraging to see live poker return. Poker is the ultimate social game, and while tournaments are not yet in play at Bellagio, patience is the protocol just as it is when playing poker. 

The same goes for those hoping for the return of a live World Series of Poker at the Rio. That property is currently closed and the live WSOP is delayed until fall. 

However, players in Nevada and New Jersey can play for bracelets beginning July 1 at WSOP.com. The WSOP Online tournaments feature one bracelet event daily.

Buy-ins range from $400 to $3,200 and players can qualify for events in multiple daily online satellites. On July 19, the series expands for international players on GGPoker.

Live poker may not have returned completely, but the WSOP Online adds even more buzz to the industry as a whole.

Coronavirus Leads to Casino Closings, Tournament Cancellations; Players Move Online

Sean Chaffin March 16, 2020 0 comments
The Coronavirus has led to the postponement and cancellation of numerous poker events.

The fate of numerous major poker events continued to take shape over the weekend in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Tours and properties canceled events and series around the world.

Series like the World Series of Poker, World Poker Tour and numerous others have altered plans in reaction. Online operators have quickly added new series to meet customer demand at a time when many players will be home.

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Closing and postponing numerous poker tournaments

Postponements and cancellations came quickly last week as more victims of the COVID-19 virus were announced. The WPT postponed a slate of events on its Main Tour and DeepStacks schedules, including in Barcelona, at the Venetian in Las Vegas, and Seminole Hard Rock in Florida.

Three WPT final tables are set to be filmed March 31-April 2 at HyperX Esports Arena at Luxor. Those remained in place. However, that could change after MGM Resorts announced it would temporarily close operations in Las Vegas beginning Tuesday.

The Luxor is an MGM property and the company wouldn’t be taking reservations prior to May 1. This came after HyperX announced it would be closing for two weeks.

“Despite our commitment to dedicating additional resources for cleaning and promoting good health, while making difficult decisions to close certain aspects of our operations, it is now apparent that this is a public health crisis that requires major collective action if we are to slow its progression,” MGM CEO Jim Murren said in a news release.

“This is a time of uncertainty across our country and the globe and we must all do our part to curtail the spread of this virus.”

WSOP takes action with circuit events

On Friday, the WSOP also made some adjustments. Caesars Entertainment announced that several events had been canceled or postponed, including stops at:

  • Harrah’s Atlantic City
  • Bally’s Las Vegas
  • King’s Resort in Rozvadov, Czech Republic
  • Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles
  • Harrah’s Cherokee in North Carolina
  • Casino Barriere Le Croisette in Cannes, France

The summer WSOP is scheduled to continue as of now, but organizers will monitor the situation.

“As it relates to the summer WSOP in Las Vegas, we are monitoring COVID-19 developments very carefully and it is scheduled to be held as planned,” Caesars Interactive Entertainment Vice President of Corporate Communications Seth Palansky said in a news release

Other properties also shutting down, the situation continues to change

While the WSOP may be scheduled to continue, what that may look like is anyone’s guess. With travel bans currently underway from Europe and China, attendance will be an open question.

Will guarantees be adjusted and expectations lowered because of the pandemic? Will the number of events be reduced to adjust to lower demand and player pools?

Could the series be canceled entirely? Those are some questions that will be answered in the coming months.

Other tournament series and properties will also be affected. The RunGood Poker Series canceled its upcoming series in Bossier City, LA.

The Wynn and Encore casinos in Las Vegas announced on Monday that they would be closing temporarily. The Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods casinos in Connecticut are also closing.

PokerStars has canceled several Road to PokerStars Players Championship events in Germany, France and Spain. The Brazilian Series of Poker São Paulo and Monte-Carlo EPT events have been postponed.

However, the company announced that the PSPC set for Barcelona in August would go forward as planned. That could change depending on how the pandemic continues to play out.

Beyond major tournament series, casino closings leave many cash game players also shut out. With casinos closing down, many may look to online games. In the US, legal options include:

Sweepstakes poker sites like Global Poker might also see increased traffic with players practicing self-quarantine and social distancing.

Players react and deal with coronavirus crisis

Many players have generally supported closing poker rooms and shutting down tournament series. Daniel Negreanu was one of those leading the charge last week.

 

Others offered support for the movement to postpone and cancel events. Expressions of sympathy for those fighting the virus and encouragement to stay home followed.

 

Pandemic hits close to home

For poker pro Jessica Dawley, the virus had made an impact on her family. The winner of the 2018 WSOP Ladies Championship detailed her own family’s concerns on Twitter on Sunday.

Her brother Shawn Dawley and his wife have been quarantined on an Italian cruise ship in the Mediterranean Sea since Feb. 24. Shawn is a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel with experience in crisis management during Hurricane Katrina. He also flew missions in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

“They personally are doing fine because of my brother’s training,” Dawley told USPoker. “He’s good in these situations. Others on the ship are freaking out a bit.”

Dawley said Shawn’s been helping other Americans with logistics and contacting government officials. They’re trying to figure out when they can get home.

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Online poker rooms step up with events

While safety certainly takes precedence over poker, many online operators have announced a new series to meet player demand.

Partypoker was one of the first and has teamed with the WPT after many of the tour’s events were postponed. The WPT Online Series offers players a chance to join the tour’s Champions Club.

The series runs May 10-26 and will feature $30 million in guarantees, including $15 million across 10 headline events. The highlight will be a $3,200 WPT Online Championship with a $5 million guarantee, set to begin May 10.

Other operators followed suit, including WSOP.com, which is available in New Jersey and Nevada. The series kicked off its Online Super Circuit over the weekend.

In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, PokerStars was expected to offer players its Summer Series sooner than expected.

 

Like many poker pros, Dawley finds herself in an unexpected situation. She lives in Florida, but the tournament postponements have left her considering a cross-country trip.

“It’s been OK, thus far,” she said. “However I contemplated going to Nevada and quarantining there so I could play online. It’s unfortunate that the government made playing online illegal in 2011. It’s a huge slap in the face to those of us who could use a revenue stream from home right now. I’m hoping the US government eventually realizes their major misstep with this situation.”

Online operators might add more events in the coming weeks. Check back for USPoker and PokerScout for schedules and added events

Legal US Poker Sites 2020

Avatar June 1, 2019 0 comments
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Where is online poker legal in the US?

The following six states have now officially signed legislation to offer legal US online poker:

  1. Delaware
  2. Nevada
  3. New Jersey
  4. Pennsylvania
  5. West Virginia (Not live yet)
  6. Michigan (Not live yet)

As you can see, four currently have open and operating legal online poker sites. And there are some differences between each of the regulated online poker states.

  • Nevada only permits online poker.
  • New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware also spread casino games banked by the house (More about NJ online casino and Pennsylvania online casinos).
  • Nevada, New Jersey and Pennsylvania allow the state’s brick-and-mortar casinos to operate online sites. In Delaware, the state lottery is the sole operator.
  • Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware have entered into an interstate online poker agreement. If you play in those three states you can compete against each other only on WSOP.com.

Where can I play online poker in the US right now?

NJ online poker

New Jersey is currently home to the most online poker sites. Those sites are spread across four distinct networks and operate through three different licensees. Here are your options:

New Jersey online poker sites

legal NJ online poker WSOPWSOP NJ is the second biggest site after Borgata/partypoker. It used 888 software, but was a standalone room. 888 operated its own platform, but began to share player pools with WSOP.com in January 2015.

PokerStars NJ launched in New Jersey on March 21, 2016.

The site opened at around the same size of WSOP.com and Borgata. Since launch, PokerStars has been the top site in the Garden State for much of its tenure.

In April 2018, New Jersey joined the multi-state compact with Nevada and Delaware. The agreement allows the three states to share their player pools across state lines.

Background

The New Jersey legislature legalized online poker and casino games in the state in December 2012. After some back-and-forth between Gov. Chris Christie and the lawmakers, the governor finally signed the bill into law.

As a result, New Jersey online poker and casino games launched on November 21, 2013. Borgata and its partner Party Poker dominated the New Jersey online poker world at the time after launch.

Pennsylvania online poker

Pennsylvania became the fourth state to legalize and regulate online poker and online casino play in the U.S. when Governor Tom Wolf signed bill H 271 on Oct. 30, 2017.

PokerStars PA announced the inaugural Pennsylvania Championship of Online Poker on Thursday. The series runs Nov. 30 – Dec. 16 with $1 million guaranteed.Online poker was expected to launch by July of 2019. However, that date was pushed back until PokerStars officially launched on Nov. 4, 2019. It was the first online poker site in Pennsylvania.

The site is now fully operational with the excellent software, cash games, and tournaments that players have come to expect. PokerStars has promised much more for players in the state and received a nice reception from many in the state.

There are eight casino or operators attempting to launch online poker in Pennsylvania right now. One of them is MGM Resorts, which applied for a license as a qualified gaming entity through its Borgata property in New Jersey.

Pennsylvania casinos which have both applied for and been approved to offer online poker are:

  • Mount Airy Casino (now live through its partnership with PokerStars)
  • Harrah’s Philadelphia
  • Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course
  • Parx Casino
  • Sands Bethlehem
  • SugarHouse Casino
  • Valley Forge Casino

Nevada online poker

Nevada was the first state to launch regulated online poker. In December 2011, the Nevada Gaming Control Board adopted regulations pertaining to Nevada online poker sites.

The regulations required affirmation through the Nevada legislature. Nevada lawmakers meet on a biennium. The state passed the regulations governing Nevada online poker in February 2013.

On April 30, 2013, Ultimate Poker launched as the first regulated online poker room in the US. The launch was flawed due to poor software and unproven geolocation services. Ultimate Poker attracted about 300 peak players and the same number of players participated in sit and gos and tournaments.

WSOP.com launched on September 17, 2013. WSOP.com enjoyed massive brand awareness and dominated the market within two months.

Ultimate Poker succumbed to the small intrastate poker player pool in Nevada. It left the Nevada market on November 17, 2014. This leaves only WSOP.com and Real Gaming in the Nevada online poker market.

On March 24, 2015, a liquidity sharing agreement between Delaware and Nevada went live. New Jersey joined the compact in April 2018. So, players from three states can now sit at the same table.

Technically, there is a second active poker site in Nevada. Real Gaming, backed by South Point Casino, launched in February 2014. However, the site never has gained more than 1 percent of the market at any time. Currently, its influence in the market is small enough that WSOP more or less enjoys a monopoly in the market.

Nevada online poker sites

Delaware online poker

Delaware was the second state to legalize and regulate online gambling. It was legalized through the state legislature in June 2013. Online casino games went live on October 31, 2013. The Delaware online poker network opened on November 8, 2013.

Delaware offers online poker and casino games through its state lottery. Interactive gaming is marketed through its three video lottery racinos.

888 supplies the platform all three sites. The online poker room shares liquidity between all sites. Delaware and Nevada started sharing online poker player pools on March 24, 2015. New Jersey joined the pool in April 2018.

Delaware online poker sites

  • Doverdowns.com
  • Delawarepark.com
  • Harringtonraceway.com

West Virginia online poker and casino

West Virginia joined the online gambling party on March 27, 2019. Gov. Jim Justice allowed H 2934, the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act, to become law without his signature.

The law allows the five land-based casinos to apply for interactive licenses. Each license initially costs $250,000 and must be renewed for $100,000 every five years. Casinos will pay 15 percent of revenue in taxes.

The five properties which will develop online casino sites in West Virginia are:

  • The Casino Club at Greenbrier Resort
  • Hollywood Casino Charles Town
  • Mardi Gras Casino
  • The Mountaineer Hotel, Casino & Resort
  • Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack

Legalization is terrific news, but active online gambling in West Virginia is still somewhat in the future. The state’s officials will have to create a set of regulations. The best estimate from various sources is that the first online casino with online poker in West Virginia won’t appear until 2020.

Can I play at a legal online poker site while not in that state?

No. Legal online poker sites use geolocation software to ensure that players are located in the state at the time of action.

This takes into account the IP address of the player, location of a related cell phone, and nearby wireless access points. It is impossible to play at legal online poker sites when located outside state lines.

You do not have to be a resident of that state to play online poker there, however. If you visit any legal US online poker state you can download and create an account from your home state, claim any no deposit poker bonus, make any additional deposits and then play online poker when you arrive as long as you are within state borders.

Why should I choose legal poker sites?

One of the biggest advantages to playing online poker at regulated US sites is that all player funds are just as safe as they would be at a licensed real money online casino in any of those states.

The very same gaming regulations that apply to live and online casinos are also valid for regulated US online poker sites. All deposits are held in separate accounts from cash used for operations.

There are also ample deposit and withdrawal methods that are safe and secure. Legal poker sites in the US accept deposits by:

  • Visa
  • MasterCard
  • Electronic checks
  • Neteller
  • Skrill
  • PayNearMe (7-Eleven)
  • PayPal
  • Cash at associated casinos in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, etc

How do I withdraw from legal poker sites in the United States?

Legal poker sites pay winnings by:

  • Electronic check
  • Check by mail
  • Bank wire
  • Neteller
  • Skrill
  • PayPal
  • Cash at associated casinos in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, etc

Regulated online poker sites also undergo rigorous checks to ensure that games are fair and secure.

When will online poker be legal in my state?

The situation regarding online poker bills is always changing. There are several states that are considering legal online poker currently. They are:

  • Connecticut
    • S 17 would legalize online gambling and sports betting
  • Kentucky
    • H 175 would legalize online poker, sports betting, and daily fantasy sports
  • New York
    • A 4924 would certify online poker as a game of skill under New York law
  • Tennessee
    • SJR 165 would legalize all forms of online gambling
  • Virginia
    • HB 2321 seeks to study online gambling expansion of all types

Two more states, Illinois and Massachusetts, are also interested in online poker.

History of legal online poker in the US

Legal US online poker sites debuted on April 30, 2013.

Ultimate Poker was the site that made history. Nevada was the first state to host fully legal online poker. Texas Hold ’em was the only game spread at Ultimate Poker during its first six months in business.

WSOP.com joined the Nevada online poker market on Sept. 17, 2013. The World Series of Poker’s online site brought the first games of Omaha, Omaha High/Low, Seven Card Stud and Seven Card Stud High/Low to Nevada.

WSOP.com now controls 99 percent of the Nevada market. This near-monopoly was caused by the shuttering of Ultimate Poker in November 2014.

Delaware online poker was the second state to launch. There is one network powered by 888. The state’s three racinos – Delaware Park, Dover Downs and Harrington Raceway – are skins on the Delaware poker network. Nevada and Delaware began pooling poker players in April 2015.

WSOP.com and 888 were the sites responsible for creating the first legal interstate online poker pool.

New Jersey online poker came next on Nov. 21, 2013. There are currently three poker networks in New Jersey. One hosts Borgata and partypoker, the other has WSOP.com and 888 on it, and the third is made up solely of PokerStars NJ. All networks are about equal in overall size at any given point in time.

There were three additional poker platforms in New Jersey when the state launched regulated poker sites. 888 was originally a standalone site before it merged player pools with WSOP.com. Ultimate Poker was unable to gain more than 3 percent of the market share.

The Ultimate Poker site was shuttered on Oct. 5, 2014. The associated UCasino was also closed at that time. Betfair failed to attract any players and closed its poker site on Dec. 1, 2014. Betfair still operates an online casino in New Jersey.

After a long legislative battle, Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill into law that legalized and regulated online gambling in the state of Pennsylvania on Oct. 30, 2017, making it the fourth state to legalize online gaming. The bill legalized online poker, online casino table games, online slots and daily fantasy sports.

It also allowed for a number of other gambling expansions such as online lottery, tablet gambling in airports, video gambling terminals at truck stops and 10 satellite casinos. Players were officially able to play online poker in PA in 2019.

Why isn’t there a federal online poker bill?

There have been many attempts to pass an online poker bill at the federal level.

  • 2009 – Rep. Barney Frank first proposes regulated online poker.
  • 2011 – Frank and Rep. Joe Barton attempt to get Congress to repeal the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA).
  • 2012 – Sen. Harry Reid and Sen. Jon Kyl combine to propose a poker-only bill, known in the poker community as Reid/Kyl. The bill dies when Congress adjourns.

Nowadays, the federal government is more likely to focus its attention on sports betting. Unfortunately, online poker and gambling just doesn’t rate for many constituencies as key issues.

There does seem to be a movement towards greater states’ rights, however. The dismissal of PASPA in May 2018 allowed sports betting to proceed at each state legislature’s discretion.

A recent reversal of Department of Justice opinion on the Wire Act may also end up being a net positive for online gambling advocates. The DOJ seems to have been swayed by anti-gambling lobbyists funded by Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson.

Neither the states nor the media are amused by the appearance of corruption and impropriety. As a result, online gambling might become a medium for states to argue a greater issue, and thus, rise in prominence.

What is the UIGEA?

UIGEA is an acronym for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. It passed Congress in September 2006 and was signed into law by President Bush two weeks later.

The UIGEA made it illegal for banks to process payments for unlawful gambling sites. It did not define what that was. Most publicly-traded sites immediately left the US market after the UIGEA was enacted.

These included Party Poker, iPoker, Microgaming Poker Network, Ongame, and 888. All of these examples returned to the US market when states started to regulate online poker.

What is Black Friday?

Black Friday was the day the US online poker community describes April 15, 2011.

On that date, PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker were charged with gambling crimes by the US Department of Justice in the Southern District of New York.

Unfortunately, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker did not have enough cash on hand to pay players. PokerStars paid all customers within weeks. Strange as it may seem, it was PokerStars that eventually made all Full Tilt Poker players whole after coming to an agreement with federal authorities.

Will the federal government ban online poker?

Federal law allows states to legalize and regulate online poker. This is specifically exempted from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. A September 2011 Department of Justice opinion confirmed this and explicitly gives states the right to permit intrastate gaming.

There was an attempt in Congress to reverse this legal opinion. The effort was spearheaded by Sheldon Adelson, founder and CEO of Las Vegas Sands, the parent company of Venetian in Las Vegas.

Adelson’s lobbyists submitted the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA). The bill failed in 2016 and does not appear to have much support in this Congress. Libertarian groups, states’ rights activists, governors, state lotteries and most of the gaming industry have come out in opposition to RAWA.

Since then, Adelson and company have been working through other channels to head off online casino and online poker play. It is extremely likely that the group effected some degree of influence over the Department of Justice’s January 2019 opinion to reinterpret the Wire Act.

In that opinion, the DOJ essentially reversed its prior position on the statute to say that the law actually pertains to all gambling, not just sports betting. Needless to say, there were many parties in opposition to this opinion.

So far, the opinion has not found much success in court. A June 2019 ruling from a New Hampshire federal court dismissed the opinion from affecting that state’s lottery commission and an associated vendor. Only time will tell if the precedent will ripple out to other interested and/or affected parties.

Nevada Poker Rooms Are Having Their Best Year Since Black Friday

Steve Ruddock May 31, 2019 0 comments
nevada las vegas

A solid April has the Nevada poker industry on pace for its best year since 2011. The ongoing reduction in poker rooms and poker tables across the state makes that accomplishment all the more impressive.

Despite fewer tables, revenues have increased year over year (Y/Y) in each of the first four months of 2019. Those increases haven’t been trivial, either.

The 2019 Y/Y revenue changes as reported by the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB):

  • January: +6.52%
  • February: +3.79%
  • March: +6.30%
  • April:  +4.05%
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A look inside this month’s revenue numbers

The number of poker rooms and tables in the state was pretty stagnant month over month. The NGCB counted 58 poker rooms and 555 poker tables in its latest monthly report. That’s an increase of one room and a loss of one table compared to last month.

As usual, the Y/Y numbers show significant drops on both counts. Nevada boasted 64 poker rooms and 585 poker tables in April 2018.

Once again, with the Y/Y revenue gains, April 2019 outperformed April 2018 on a per table basis:

  • April 2018 table average: $14,033
  • April 2019 table average: $15,558

2018-19 live poker revenue in Nevada

WSOP ushers in the busy season

From late-May to mid-July, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) swells the number of poker tables in the city of Las Vegas. It also causes a spike in poker revenue (see chart below).

This year is the 50th anniversary of the WSOP. Couple that with a renewed interest in poker (attendance has been trending up in recent years), and this WSOP has the potential to be a record-setter.

Three- and 12-month poker room and table trend

Over the last three months, Nevada has averaged 553 poker tables at 58 separate locations. Those rooms generated $28,723,000 over that period, a 4.92%  increase compared to the same period last year.

Over the last 12 months, Nevada has averaged 590 poker tables at 62 locations. During that time the state’s poker operators have generated $121,943,000, a 2.52% increase compared to the previous 12-month period.

  • May 2018: 62 poker rooms and 688 poker tables
  • June 2018: 62 poker rooms and 683 poker tables
  • July 2018: 60 poker rooms and 694 poker tables
  • August 2018: 61 poker rooms and 585 poker tables
  • September 2018: 58 poker rooms and 561 poker tables
  • October 2018: 56 poker rooms and 558 poker tables
  • November 2018: 58 poker rooms and 561 poker tables
  • December 2018: 56 poker rooms and 553 poker tables
  • January: 57 poker rooms and 548 poker tables
  • February:  55 poker rooms and 546 poker tables
  • March: 57 poker rooms and 556 poker tables
  • April: 58 poker rooms and 555 poker tables

Nevada poker rooms by the numbers

The largest poker rooms in Las Vegas are mainly found on the Las Vegas Strip:

  • Venetian (The Strip): 37 poker tables
  • Bellagio (The Strip): 37 poker tables
  • Orleans (Las Vegas, off the Strip): 35 poker tables
  • Wynn (The Strip): 28 poker tables
  • Aria (The Strip): 24 poker tables
  • South Point Casino (Henderson): 22 poker tables
  • Green Valley Ranch Casino (Henderson): 22 poker tables
  • Red Rock Casino (Summerlin): 20 tables

Historical data and trends of poker in Nevada

Here’s a look at several key poker metrics from the UNLV Center for Gaming Research, which has been tracking the number of poker rooms, tables and revenue since 1992:

Year # of Rooms # of Tables Total Revenue % Change YoY
1992 92 564 74,701,000 -2.57
1993 89 571 70,814,000 -5.20
1994 93 586 71,667,000 1.20
1995 92 574 66,520,000 -7.18
1996 82 539 64,485,000 -3.06
1997 77 490 61,509,000 -4.61
1998 76 526 58,873,000 -4.29
1999 70 546 63,244,000 7.41
2000 68 473 63,064,000 -0.28
2001 65 475 59,673,000 -5.38
2002 57 386 57,791,000 -3.15
2003 58 383 68,276,000 18.15
2004 79 484 98,862,000 44.80
2005 96 701 140,224,000 42.00
2006 106 886 160,929,000 14.77
2007 113 907 167,975,000 4.38
2008 113 913 155,724,000 -7.29
2009 114 905 145,580,000 -6.54
2010 109 920 135,200,000 -7.13
2011 104 872 131,877,000 -2.46
2012 99 809 123,253,000 -6.54
2013 88 774 123,891,000 0.56
2014 79 736 119,904,000 -3.18
2015 76 681 118,023,000 -1.57
2016 73 661 117,753,000 -0.18
2017 71 615 118,455,000 0.60
2018 62 599 120,010,000 1.33

WSOP Confirms NJ Players Can Play WSOP Online Events

Bart Shirley May 3, 2019 0 comments

There is good news for poker players in the Garden State this morning. Pokerfuse is reporting that World Series of Poker (WSOP) management has confirmed that New Jersey players can play in some of the WSOP Online Events coming up in a few weeks.

Specifically, players can play the two online bracelet events that will occur prior to June 14. So, New Jersey players can play the $400 no-limit hold’em tournament on June 2 and the $600 pot-limit Omaha event on June 9.

Concerns about New Jersey player eligibility arose after the Department of Justice‘s recent opinion about the applicability of the Wire Act. In the January 2019 announcement, DOJ officials claimed that the Act applied not just to sports betting (as the previous opinion indicated), but also to all types of gambling.

The opinion placed the multi-state poker compact that exists between Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware into jeopardy. The compact allows the states to combine their player pools and increase the size of their markets.

At this point, the DOJ is figuring out its prosecutorial guidelines for the opinion. The government agency has set June 14 as its deadline to execute the implications of the new opinion.

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The WSOP has stayed the course on online events

To be clear, the reason that WSOP players can play these events is that they occur BEFORE June 14. It remains unclear what will happen after that day comes to pass.

However, New Jersey players should take comfort in being able to play any WSOP online tournaments at all. Originally, the thinking was that there would be no New Jersey players in any of the tournaments at all.

Had the WSOP made such a decision, it would have been frustrating, but understandable. To that end, one might have forgiven the WSOP for backing away from offering online events at all. After all, giving away nine bracelets through nine intrastate tournaments would not be an optimal use of time or money.

To the WSOP’s credit, it has remained steadfast in its selection of events and its commitment to players. A press release announcing the inclusion of nine online events came exactly one month after the DOJ announcement, proof of where WSOP stood on the issue.

So, in a way, the latest announcement is not much of a surprise. The WSOP is clearly going to host as many people in its tournaments as possible.

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Vive la resistance

The WSOP’s announcement is the latest pushback against the DOJ’s opinion. Though tournament officials won’t break the law, they will skirt right up to its edge.

Of course, the WSOP is not alone in clapping back against the government agency. More than a dozen states have pledged to fight the DOJ in court over the Wire Act opinion.

The problem surrounding the opinion continues to be its origin. Media reports have noted that the opinion both represents a complete reversal of course and closely mirrors lobbying materials from an anti-gambling group.

The group, the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG), is strongly rumored to receive financial backing from Venetian owner Sheldon Adelson. So, the entire affair bears the stink of cronyism and political favoritism.

At present, the Department is defending itself against a rather strident suit filed by the New Hampshire Lottery Commission. The Commission has argued that the reversal, of course, both defies DOJ policy against such an action and materially hurt the Lottery and its associated vendors.

Things are beginning to get ugly. This week, a filing from the NHLC implored the court to end what it called the DOJ’s “charade.”

It remains to be seen if the DOJ is going to stop playing anytime soon.

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