Looking back on the 2017 poker calendar, you’ll find a plethora of tournament classics, series, festivals, and showdowns.
You’ll find tournaments with buy-ins ranging from $20 to $250,000 (and sometimes even higher), on every continent around the world. Even China is offering a tournament series outside of Macau this year.
It’s a fact that poker tournaments continue to grow in popularity. Just last year, the World Series of Poker saw a 12.2% increase in overall attendance.
Recreational players usually have no trouble finding an affordable buy-in close to home. And that is a very, very good thing for poker.
But where do professional poker players play in the U.S., when they aren’t dodging the sweltering heat of the Las Vegas, Nevada summer?
Top major U.S. poker tournaments
We’ve compiled a list of a few of the most popular, fan-favorite major U.S. poker tournaments in 2017.
Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open
The Seminole Hard Rock Poker Room is a favorite stop of poker professionals looking to stay stateside.
The Hollywood, Florida-based casino touts beautiful year-round weather, beaches, and boardwalks for walking off tilt. It is also surrounded by nature and parks to help you get into a winning mindset.
They have eight tournament series on their schedule throughout the year and offer something for everyone, attracting both recreational and professional players to the felt.
It’s the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open, held in August every year and features buy-ins ranging from $300 to $50,000, that is one of Florida’s Premier events.
The most popular event of the series was the $5,250 No-Limit Hold’em $3 Million guaranteed tournament that attracted 887 players and generating a prize pool of $4,301,950.
With $761,611 up top, it’s no surprise to see some of the best players in poker taking their shot at the prize. The field included the likes of David Sands, Shannon Shorr, Scott Clements, Shaun Deeb, Matthew Waxman and Paul Volpe to name just a few.
Martin Kozlov from Australia claimed the top prize beating a final table that included Matt Berkey, and Adam Levy.
Ready to add the Seminole Hard Rock Poker Open to your schedule? It’s too early to know what 2018 will bring. But you can keep checking their website for details.
WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star
Outside of the WSOP, the WPT is probably the best-known poker brand, and while their schedule has several stops in the U.S., it’s the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star that everyone looks forward to each year.
Set just outside of San Fransisco, in San Jose, California, The Bay 101 is a popular destination with plenty of poker to play when you’re running hot, and plenty to see when you’re not.
Matt Savage, the WPT Executive Tour Director, has the task of selecting a few pros to be a “Shooting Star.”
Every year plenty of pros feel slighted because their star power didn’t quite shine as brightly as someone else’s. Frankly, it’s the posturing to be chosen that adds to the fun and attraction of this event.
The highlight of the four-tournament series was the $7,500 No-Limit Hold’em event. Held in March, there was a huge rail as players tried to knock out one of the 54 “Shooting Stars” and collect their $2,500 bounty.
Large fields always attract the pros, but the bounty and the party-like atmosphere make this a must-attend event every year.
Being the short stack with two tables left, it was Sam Panzica who came from behind to claim the top prize of $1,373,000. It was no easy task having to navigate a field of 806 players, with some of the best stars of poker standing in his way. But Navigate a stacked field he did, claiming his second WPT title of the year.
Ready for your chance of grabbing a shooting star? You may have to wait a while as The Bay 101 Shooting Star, is absent from the WPT 2017/2018 schedule. Keep an eye on the WPT website to see if it makes an appearance.
Venetian DeepStack Extravaganza
The Venetian DeepStack Series is offered several times a year, but it is the summer Extravaganza that has become one of the most popular tournament series of the summer
Even though many poker players have boycotted the Venetian in protest against Sheldon Adelson’s position on online gaming, players still flock to buy-in to the events that attract huge fields and award large sums of money.
There is something for everyone in this series with buy-ins ranging from $200 to $10,000 and a variety of games including no-limit hold’em, pot-limit Omaha, Omaha 8-or-Better and Big O.
Because it’s held during the same time frame as the WSOP, the Venetian Deepstacks have often been viewed as a viable alternative to the WSOP and often-times provides better value. Don’t be surprised to find a pro or two heading over to the Venetian after busting a WSOP event.
The marquee event of the 110-event tournament series is the $5,000 No-Limit Hold’em $2 million guaranteed. This year’s event attracted 688 players, generating a prize pool of $3,199,200.
With six different countries represented at the final table, it truly is an international affair for anyone and everyone. It was Javier Gomez Zapatero from Spain, with nearly $2 million in career earnings, who was the last man standing and took the top prize of $561,349 that went along with the distinction.
If you want to rub elbows with the pros, there is no better place to do it then in Vegas.
It’s Time to Start Thinking About 2018
The good news is most of these events are surrounded by affordable poker options for the recreational player.
If you have the option of booking only one poker trip next year, set your sights on something new.
You know what they say, “You can’t win if you don’t play.”