Venetian’s Controversial Lucky Shot Poker Series Has $27K Overlay

Portugal's Diogo Bento is the winner of the Venetian's $150,000 Prize Pool event taking home $30,750.

The Venetian Poker Room’s controversial Lucky Shot Poker Series and Drawing wrapped up Sunday with the ‘Total Prize Pool’ scheme providing mixed results for both the players and the card room.

It was just over a month ago that the Venetian’s October series earned criticism from the poker community due to its use of ‘Total Prize Pool’ as opposed to a standard guarantee. The Total Prize Pool was a pre-determined amount that would never increase or decrease no matter how many players entered the tournament. While the Venetian would cover any amount under the Total Prize Pool, any amount collected over the prize pool became “the sole property of The Venetian Poker Room.”

Members of the poker community swiftly noted that while the poker room was on the hook for the total prize pool, it offered the Venetian unlimited upside in terms of rake collected.

The Lucky Shot Poker Series and Drawing offered five events with a Total Prize Pool, the largest of which was Event #1, the week-long, multi-flight $150,000 Total Prize Pool.

Early Returns

Before the conclusion of Sunday’s $150,000 tournament, there were four smaller events held throughout the week. All of these tournaments with the Total Prize Pool model benefited the Venetian.

For example, in Event #2 ($125 NLH SuperStack $4,000 Total Prize Pool) 45 players paid the buy-in resulting in a total of $5,625 collected. This meant that $1,625 went to the house and $88.88 of each buy-in was put into the prize pool. That equates to roughly 29% rake.

In a standard $125 Venetian event, $20 goes to the house with another $10 for the staff. This calculates to approximately 24% rake. At 45 players, $1,350 would be generated in rake using the standard model.

With the Total Prize Pool, $275 extra was collected by the house. Put another way, for this specific tournament each player paid an extra $6.11 in rake.

In each of the four of the prelim events that had a Total Prize Pool, the Venetian took in more than their standard rake.

Bounty Is Better

The biggest boon for the Venetian came in the two scheduled bounty tournaments.

The structure sheet says that the bounties are part of the prize pool. So when 69 players registered for Event #3 ($200 NLH Bounty $9,000 Total Prize Pool), it created $3,450 in $50 bounties. Take that away from the $9,000 Total Prize Pool and players were left to fight over $5,550 with the Venetian taking in $4,800 in rake.

Instead of each player paying a standard $40 in rake per $200 buy-in ($26 as an entry fee and $14 as a staff fee), players paid an additional $29.56 per player in rake for a total of $69.56 per $200. The tournament was raked just under 35%.

As high as that sounds, Event #5 ($125 NLH Bounty $6,000 Total Prize Pool) collected an even higher percentage of rake. Ninety-three players paid $125 to create a prize pool of $11,625. The $5,625 overage was $2,835 more rake than if the 93 players paid the standard $30 rake (in addition to the $25 bounty). Every player in this tournament paid an extra $30.48 in rake, essentially paying $60.48 on a $125 buy-in. Event #5 was raked at roughly 48.3%.

Prelim Rake Calculations

# Event Total Prize Pool Total Collected Percent Rake
2 $125 NLH SuperStack $4,000 $5,625 29.00%
3 $200 NLH Bounty ($50 Bounties) $9,000 $13,800 35.00%
4 $125 NLH SuperStack $4,000 $5,625 29.00%
5 $125 NLH Bounty ($25 Bounties) $6,000 $11,625 48.30%

$150,000 Total Prize Pool

The biggest test of the Total Prize Pool came in the $250 buy-in, $150,000 tournament. The tournament had six starting flights taking place throughout the week and early on, the number of entries was less than impressive as only 34 entered on Flight 1A.

However, as the week rolled on, the Venetian sent out an ‘Overlay Alert’ on their blog and entrants began to roll in. By the time registration closed on Saturday’s Flight 1F, a total of 645 players bought in.

The $161,250 prize pool was enough to cover the Total Prize Pool for the Venetian, allowing them to rake $11,250. However, it was far from optimal for the card room. In a standard model where of the $250 buy-in, the Venetian would take ~20% – $50 ($35 for the house, $15 for the staff) – the room would have collected $32,250 but been forced to cover $21,000 in overlay.

This was a huge plus for the players, with each of them essentially only paying $17.44 in rake and picking up an addition $32.55 per person in value for this specific tournament. The biggest winner of the entire series was Portugal’s Diogo Bento, who won the event, taking home a career-high cash of $30,750.

Not How It Was Drawn Up

In addition to the tournaments, the Venetian held a $52,000 drawing at the end of the week. For every $250 in tournament entries, players picked up a ticket to the drawing. According to the Venetian, 516 players earned 710 tickets for 22 prizes. The drawing included 21 $2,000 prizes and a single $10,000 prize.

In the end, the overflow of rake was not enough to cover the total $52,000 of the drawing.

The total amount of rake collected during the five Total Prize Pool events was $24,925, leaving the card room to cover $27,075. There was a final event in the series that did not contain a Total Prize Pool which did generate rake.