After more than a year away from one of the world’s premier poker destinations, the World Poker Tour’s live Main Tour returns to Las Vegas from March 5-9 for the $5,000 buy-in, $1.5 million guaranteed WPT Venetian Main Event.
For the WPT, the event in Sin City represents the next step in the company’s recovery when it comes to resuming its live event operations. The WPT had not held a Main Event in Las Vegas since the 2019 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic, a tournament that set a record for the organization for the largest $10,000 buy-in tournament prize pool in its history. It was shortly thereafter that live poker events nearly came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This resulted in postponements and cancellations of much of the WPT’s live schedule, including a 2020 stop at the Venetian and a number of live final tables that were set to take place in Las Vegas.
Now, the WPT hopes to bring the momentum from an incredibly successful Lucky Hearts Poker Open at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, Florida to their 2021 Main Tour tournament at the Venetian.
The Main Event features everything players remember from a classic WPT event. Two starting flights of eight-handed play with players receiving 40,000 in chips (200 bbs). Day 1A, 1B, and Day 2 levels are all 60 minutes with the big blind ante helping speed up play. Levels get extended to 90 minutes when the field reaches 24 players and returns to 60 minutes for the six-handed final table. The eventual winner of WPT Venetian will not only take home what is likely to be a healthy six-figure first-place prize money but will also receive a ticket into the 2021 WPT Tournament of Champions and have their name engraved on the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup.
Also worth noting about the Main Event is that both starting flights feature unlimited re-entry as well as late registration through the start of Level 9.
The last time the World Poker Tour stopped at the Venetian was also the first time they ever held a tournament there. In 2019, Ben Palmer topped a field of 734 runners in the $3,500 Main Event to capture the $335,397 first-place prize.
The WPT and Venetian have stressed the safety of their players as the pandemic continues. According to the World Poker Tour, the Venetian is operating under their own “Venetian Clean Commitment” which has “more than 800 initiatives to enhance safety and minimize risk for guests, players, and team members.”
Sanitization is a big key for a major event like the WPT Venetian to go off without a hitch. Players will be required to sanitize their hands and wear a mask at the table at all times. The staff will focus on keeping the transparent dividers, cards, chips, and the like sanitized.
“We are excited for the return of the World Poker Tour to The Venetian,” said Tommy LaRosa, tournament director for The Venetian Poker Room back in December when the event was originally announced. “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.”
The Venetian has been at the forefront of keeping large poker tournaments alive in Las Vegas during the pandemic. For example, the Mid-States Poker Tour held three Main Events at the Venetian in the past four months. All three tournaments saw massive turnouts with the smallest of the three, the $1,100 event in January 2021, brining out a total of 1,009 entries. The largest, the MSPT Venetian $1,600 Main Event drew a field of 1,239 players and created a prize pool of over $1.7 million in November 2020.
At the end of January, WPTDeepstacks held its first live event of 2021 at the Venetian when 812 players participated in the $1,600 Main Event.
The World Poker Tour resuming operations in Las Vegas may also be a sign that the company is closer to settling some unfinished business. In late March/early April 2020, three WPT final tables – the 2020 WPT Gardens Poker Championship, the 2020 WPT Borgata Winter Poker Open, and the 2020 WPT L.A. Poker Classic – were slated to be filmed for TV at the Hyper X Esports Arena. All three were postponed for obvious safety reasons.
Nearly one year after the conclusion of the 2020 LAPC those final tables have yet to be rescheduled. Another successful live event under the WPT’s belt may bring those players waiting to play out their final tables closer to determining a winner. In the meantime, the WPT Venetian will crown a new champion on March 9.
“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,” said Angelica Hael, VP of Global Tour Management for the World Poker Tour. “All parties expect a strong turnout…We look forward to a safe playing environment thanks to the hard work from the Venetian team.”