WSOP Preview: The Six non-WSOP Events You Just Have to Play

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Craig Varnell turned 5 into 0,000 at the 2015 WPT500 at Aria.

The 2016 World Series of Poker gets cards in the air on Wednesday, July 1. Over the next five days PocketFives presents the 2016 WSOP Preview highlighting everything you need as the poker world heads to their own version of Summer Camp.

The 2016 World Series of Poker’s footprint covers the entire Rio convention space and after several days of grinding tournaments, the experience morphs into a “Groundhog Day” of sorts. The monotony of it all can affect even the most disciplined players and the best way to break out of the funk is to hit up a tournament outside the Rio. These are the must-play events, all with satellites in place, to round out a complete summer of poker.

WPT500 at Aria
Dates: June 27 – July 6
Buy-in: $565

The World Poker Tour and the Aria reinvented poker tournaments two years when they rolled out the $565 buy-in WPT500 at Aria Resort & Casino. With an astonishing number of starting days, payouts starting on Day 1 and a small percentage advance to a Day 2. In 2014, Sean Yu beat out 3,599 players to win $260,000 while Craig Varnell came out on top of 5,113 in 2015 to win $330,000.

With unlimited re-entry for the first eight levels, players can buy into any and all of the eight starting flights multiple times. Action begins with Day 1A on June 27 and runs through July 4 with two Turbo Day 1s. Day 2 is July 5 and plays down to a final table which returns to play down to a champion the following day.


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Hollywood Poker Open Championship at M Resort
Dates: June 23 – 26
Buy-in: $2,500

The $2,500 buy-in Hollywood Poker Open Championship event gets underway with two starting flights on June 23 and 24, with re-entry allowed. One of the best run events of the summer, the HPO provides a much-needed alternative to the Rio during the late stages of the summer and six-figure payouts to the winners the past two years.
For those looking to get in on the cheap, satellites run on property for as low as $235.

The Goliath Million at Planet Hollywood
Dates: June 4- 7
Buy-in: $600

Planet Hollywood has grown into the Rio’s little brother over the past two years, running a similar schedule at a fraction of the buy-ins. While the the $1,650 Main Event has a $2 million guaranteed prize pool, the Goliath Million just might be better value. With a $600 buy-in and five starting flights over two days, the tournament comes with a cool $1 million guarantee.

The Grand Series at the Golden Nugget
Dates: June 29 – July 3
Buy-in: $570

A trip to Downtown Las Vegas for the Grand Series at Golden Nugget Main Event just might take you back to poker’s pre-boom era. The $570 buy-in event has three starting days and comes with a $500,000 guaranteed prize pool. The final table plays out on July 3, giving you enough time to parlay that score into a WSOP Main Event seat.

Wynn Summer Classic Main Event
Dates: July 16 – 17
Buy-in: $1,600

One the WSOP Main Event wraps up for those not running deep, many look for one last event to save the summer. The Wynn Summer Classic Main Event, with a $1,600 buy-in and $750,000 guarantee, provides a pretty solid opportunity for one last big score. Last year’s event had 427 entrants and a $621,285 prize pool, meaning there could be an overlay this year.

Bellagio Cup XII at the Bellagio
Dates: July 14 – 19
Buy-in: $10,000

A $10,000 buy-in is a steep climb compared to the rest of the events prior, but the Bellagio Cup has elevated itself to one of the most prestigious events of the summer. For many pros, the big event at the Bellagio provides some relief with a more relaxed atmosphere after a summer of grinding inside the Rio.

The event kicks off Day 1 on July 14 and entrants play five 90-minute levels. The Bellagio is known for their liberal late registration policies and players can enter all the way until the start of Level 13 – the early goings of Day 3.

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