$1 Million Guaranteed WPT500 Kicks Off Monday at Aria


The World Poker Tour and Aria Casino team together for a third annual WPT500 – an event that’s quickly found favor with players looking for a break from the grind of 2016 WSOP. The $565 buy-in event, complete with a $1 million guarantee, kicks off Monday with the first of nine starting flights.

The innovative structure was tweaked a bit this year – the top 11% of each field makes the money and only the top 5% bag up chips and advance to Day 2. Players are allowed multiple entries but players can only move their best stack forward. Players from 8-11% cash for $950, 5%-8% earn $1,200 and the min-cash for all Day 2 survivors is $1,500.

The first year featured a $1 million guarantee that it crushed by more than 50% with 3,599 entrants. Organizers bumped the guarantee up to $2 million in 2015 and crushed it again with a $2.55 million prize pool.

Players start with a 15,000 stack with late registration open until Level 9 on the traditional Day 1s. There are two Last Chance Turbo events on July 4 where players have until Level 7 to enter. The format was changed in 2015 to allow for a final table on Day 3 – the first year had a Day 2 that didn’t finish until 8 AM.

Craig Varnell took down the 2015 event as part of a five-way deal with Lucio Antunes, Alexander Lakhov, Nick Binger and Chad Roudebush. Varnell’s win kicked off a yearlong hot streak where he’s had seven cashes of $15,000 or more. He cashed in the 2015 WSOP Main Event, won an IPT Malta Six Max event for $85,259 and final tabled a $2,000 No Limit Hold’em event in 2016 for $58,569.

The inaugural event’s final table had Scott Clements and Christian Harder but it was two relatively unknown players, Sean Yu and Kareem Marshall, who battled until sunrise before Yu took down the event. Amazingly, both players qualified from the Last Chance Turbo and spent 24 hours straight in the tournament where they won $260,000 and $180,000 respectively.

Yu’s career took a big upswing after his win; a few months later he won the WSOP Circuit Rincon Main Event for $101,881 and the LA Poker Open at the Commerce for $124,590. He also finished runner-up in a LAPC Doublestack Turbo event for $52,020.

The event offers a lower buy-in during a stretch of the WSOP schedule that includes two $5,000 events, two $10,000 events and the $50,000 Poker Players Championship. The Aria offers a special poker room rate during the event for $99 + $32 resort fee per night.

WPT500 Schedule

Day 1A – Monday, June 27
Day 1B – Tuesday, June 28
Day 1C – Wednesday, June 29
Day 1D – Thursday, June 30
Day 1E – Friday, July 1
Day 1F – Saturday, July 2
Day 1G – Sunday, July 3
Day 1H/1I – Monday, July 4
Day 2 – Tuesday, July 5
Day 3 – Wednesday, July 6