BACK IN ACTION: WPT Heading to Venetian in Las Vegas as Live Poker Slowly Returns

December 31, 2020
BACK IN ACTION: WPT Heading to Venetian in Las Vegas as Live Poker Slowly Returns

After months of postponed tournaments, the World Poker Tour is returning to the live poker felt. The tour announced this week that Season XVIII will continue with the WPT Venetian from March 5-9 in Las Vegas.

The $5,000 event comes with a $1.5 million guarantee and is the second tour event at the venue. The last Venetian event was held during Season XVII in March 2019.

“We are excited for the return of the World Poker Tour to The Venetian,” Venetian tournament director Tommy LaRosa said. “We strive to provide our players with as many options as possible and have been working throughout the last year to deliver the great poker experience our players have come to expect, but in a Venetian clean way.”

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WPT returns with 2 events so far on 2021 schedule

With the Venetian, the WPT now has two events back on the Main Tour schedule. The $3,500 Lucky Hearts Poker Open is set for Jan. 22-26 at Florida’s Seminole Hard Rock with a $1 million guarantee.

Both events offer a look at the bounce back of the live poker scene. In announcing the Venetian tournament, the tour and property stressed their commitment to safety during the pandemic.

The Venetian operates under its “Clean Commitment” program, featuring 800 initiatives to minimize risk for guests, players, and employees. The poker room safety measures include:

  • all players sanitizing their hands before sitting down at a table
  • cleaning protocols to address the ongoing sanitization of chips, cards, and shufflers
  • transparent dividers between players
  • face masks worn in all areas per Nevada regulations 

Players can expect a traditional WPT experience in the Venetian and Lucky Hearts. Winners earn Hublot WPT Player of the Year points and add their names to the Mike Sexton Champions Cup.

The winner also earns a $15,000 seat to the season-ending Baccarat Crystal WPT Tournament of Champions. More Season XVIII events are expected to be announced at a later date.

The tour also still has three final tables left to play at the HyperX Esports Arena in Las Vegas. Delays have left the final six players in the LA Poker Classic, Borgata Winter Poker Open, and Gardens Poker Championship in limbo. Those events will be filmed for broadcast on the FOX Sports regional networks.

WPTDeepStacks events also added to Venetian

Along with a Main Tour event heading to the Venetian, WPTDeepStacks is also heading to the property in 2021. The WPT’s lower buy-in tour kicks off the new year with a $1,600 event from Jan. 29 – Feb. 1.

That event is part of the Venetian’s DeepStack Showdown Series and features a $500,000 guarantee. The entire festival offers more than $1 million in guarantees and begins on Jan. 18. A second DeepStacks event will be announced at a later date 

Players in the Venetian event will be eligible for the DeepStacks North America Player of the Year race. That comes with $15,000 in prizes and the winner earns a $3,000 package toward the WPTDeepStacks Championship.

“The World Poker Tour returns to live WPT Main Tour events in Las Vegas at the Venetian and to add another member to the WPT Champions Club,” WPT vice president of global tour management Angelica Hael said in a news release.

“All parties expect a strong turnout to support three of the best brands in poker in the WPT, WPTDeepStacks, and Venetian. We look forward to a great event in a safe playing environment thanks to the hard work from the Venetian team.”

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WPT gears back up after months of online events

While live WPT tournaments may be coming back, the company has been anything but quiet. The tour has focused more on online poker through co-branding with partypoker and its own ClubWPT sweepstakes poker site.

WPT and party have partnered on several major online events in recent months. Some of those have included Main Tour tournaments. In the US, that meant the first Main Tour online event available to American players. 

The $3,500 Online Poker Open was held Dec. 27-29 and attracted 395 entries for a $1.3 million prize pool. The event was held on the partypoker US Network in New Jersey with Soheb Porbandarwala taking the title for $239,820.

Soheb Porbandarwala won the $3,500 WPT Online Poker Open on the partypoker US Network.
Soheb Porbandarwala won the $3,500 WPT Online Poker Open this week on the partypoker US Network, marking the first online Main Tour event for US players. (photo courtesy WPT)

Online poker continues to surge, but the tour’s upcoming Las Vegas and Florida events show live poker’s revival. In Las Vegas, Bally’s held its inaugural “Back in Action” poker tournament series recently.

A few other casinos around the country have also begun adding tournament series in recent months. The World Series of Poker also held the live Main Event final table on Monday.

The WPT adds to this growing trend and many poker players are happy to see events returning.

* Lead image courtesy WPT/Joe Giron

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