There’s a reason that summer in Las Vegas is often called ‘poker player summer camp’ and it’s not just because the World Series of Poker is going on.
During the summer bracelet chasing takes center stage in Sin City but over the past decade, many other Las Vegas poker rooms have battled with the WSOP for the hearts and minds of the poker playing public by consistently scheduling competing summer series that offer players excellent value through great structures and big guarantees.
Here’s a quick look around the city at some of those non-WSOP tournaments keeping poker players in action.
ARIA Poker Classic and High Roller Series
There are basically two tournament series happening at the same time inside the ARIA. The first is for the everyday player. It’s filled with buy-ins right around the $400 and $240 buy-in level, The ARIA Poker Classic. The second is home to the high rollers – small fields, high buy-in, and elite competition – The ARIA Summer High Roller Series.
Even though the Rio has offered some big buy-in tournaments early in the WSOP schedule, many of the biggest names in the game have been spending more time in the ARIA this summer simply because it’s where the biggest games are.
Before he was embroiled in controversy for folding out of order at the WSOP, Sam Soverel bested the 23 player field in Aria High Roller 11 on May 30 for a $235,880 payday. He was joined in the money by David Peters (runner-up, $189.620), Jake Schindler (3rd, $92,000) and Poker Central founder Cary Katz (4th, $57,500).
Australia’s Michael Addamo won the $10,000 buy-in ARIA High Roller 12 on June 4 for $136,000, defeating Germany’s Manig Loeser heads up. Loeser finished in second place taking home $88,400 for his efforts while fellow countryman Rainer Kempe finished in third for $54,400.
Spain’s Juan Dominguez is having a nice start to his summer as he went back-to-back at the ARIA. First, he topped the 45 player field of the $10,000 ARIA High Roller 13 for $153,000 and the very next day he won the $10,000 ARIA High Roller 14 for another $126,682. Ben Yu was the official runner-up, taking home $125,318 while the familiar faces of Jake Schindler (3rd, $67,500), Manig Loeser (4th, $45,000) and Ali Imsirovic (5th, $36,000) also made final table appearances.
The 2019 Wynn Poker Classic
One of the nicer properties on the Las Vegas strip, the Wynn/Encore hosts the Wynn Poker Classic and through the first week and a half, players have been turning up en masse to play in their daily offerings.
The Wynn has been offering multiple $1K+ buy-in tournaments and some well-known names have been showing up for them.
On June 3, 484 runners showed up for the $1,100 in which the UK’s Louis Salter took home the $98.452 first-place prize and defeated a final table that included Connor Drinan (runner-up, $64,295) and Lily Kiletto (7th, $13,907).
The next day 432 players jumped into the $1,600 buy-in which saw Florida’s Evan Teitelbaum hold off one-time WSOP Main Event champion Joe McKeehen to take down the $138,209 first place prize. McKeehen settled for $89,018 as the runner-up. Other notable final table players included Mark Radoja (5th, $31,068) as well as Entourage and Ballers music supervisor Scott Vener (9th, $12,468).
Just took down the @WynnPoker $1600/350k . $138k up top … had to beat a tough tough @WSOP main event champion in Joe McKeehen heads up !! My sincere thanks to the entire staff at the Wynn.. World class poker room!! pic.twitter.com/lQDB4DI7qM
— Evan Teitelbaum (@evan_teitelbaum) June 5, 2019
Keven Stammen bested the 618 runners of the $550 daily on June 6 for a $50,940 payday while Justin Liberto defeated Germany’s Bart Lybaert on June 8 to win a $1,100 tournament for $94,659. Lybaert’s $61,412 runner-up prize helped push him to over $3M in career earnings.
Congratulations Justin Liberto, winner of the Summer Classic $250K GTD on June 8th. Justin defeated the 449 player field and won $94,659!
11 A.M. $1,100 NLH Seniors $250K GTD pic.twitter.com/9s1PALKQNa
— Wynn Poker Room (@WynnPoker) June 9, 2019
The DeepStack Championship Poker Series at The Venetian
The Venetian continues to provide large field tournaments for players looking for action outside the Rio. They have a partnership with the Mid-States Poker Tour for some of their larger events but also provide daily tournaments for players looking for buy-ins under $1,600.
Although the Deepstack Series starts in the middle of May, the $1,100 ‘Summer Kickoff ‘ Event from May 27-29 brought out 518 runners where World Poker Tour Champion Brian Altman took home the $90,905 first-place prize. He defeated Robert Kuhn who ended up with $84,390 as the runner-up. The final table included popular Twitch Poker streamer Ricky ‘RatedGTO’ Guan who finished in fourth for $36,364, a top-3 score for his young career.
Chopped Venetian deepstack $1100 opening event heads up for $91,000 pic.twitter.com/HE1jw5VMeu
— Brian Altman (@altyfbaby) May 30, 2019
Pot Limit Omaha cash game grinder Sasha Liu outlasted the 144 runners in the $800 Pot Limit Omaha 8-Max Bounty to take down the $20,161 first-place prize. Canadian Kevin Barton fell in second place for a $11,995 payday.
— Sasha (@PokerSasha) June 2, 2019