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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). 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. 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. 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.
Summer in Sin City is in full effect as poker players continue to make the pilgrimage to Las Vegas to take part in some the biggest poker festivals of the entire year. While the World Series of Poker bracelet events at the Rio may be the summer's main attraction, players are finding plenty of action at other venues all over the city with buy-ins ranging from a couple hundred to tens of thousands in the high rollers and everything in between. Here’s a look at some of the tournaments and prize pools of non-WSOP events that attracted players over the past week. ARIA Poker Classic and High Roller Series The ARIA continues to be the premier destination for some of the biggest names in the game who want to play at the highest stakes. The ARIA High Roller Series fired off two more events this week with recent headline-maker Sam Soverel taking down the $10,000 ARIA High Roller 15 on June 10. It’s Soverel’s third victory of the series, adding $119,600 to his over $9.3M in career earnings. Denmark’s Henrik Hecklen finished as the runner-up, pulling down over $72,000. Rainer Kempe (3rd, $41,600) and Jake Schindler (4th, $26,000) also finished in the money in this 26-entry tournament. The field of the June 13 $10,000 ARIA High Roller 16 nearly doubled, topping out at 45 entries when registration ended. Barry Hutter took this one down for $153,000 in his third cash of the ARIA High Roller Series. Georgics Kitsios from Greece finished as the runner up, adding $99,000 to his bankroll while Rainer Kempe made it back-to-back bronze medal finishes, falling in third place for $67,500. Poker Central founder Cary Katz fell in fourth place picking up $45,000. Just outside of the poker room area, the ARIA’s tournament tables have been hosting daily tournaments, one during the day for roughly $400 and another at night for $240. The popularity of these have continued to grow throughout the summer however none have been as popular as their $470 Seniors tournament, which coincided with the WSOP’s Seniors events. Perhaps some of the bracelet chasing Seniors that busted at the Rio made their way to the ARIA where a field of 565 packed the tournament floor. In the end, the UK’s Mark Bramley took home the majority of the prize pool, walking with $36,295 while Willem De Jong from the Netherlands booked a career-high cash of $30,602 as the runner up. Goliath Phamous Poker Series at Planet Hollywood The Goliath Poker Series at Planet Hollywood continually offers players the opportunity to play for big bucks at a dramatically lower buy-in than a bracelet event. The line to register for last week’s $250 Goliath Quarter Milly seemed to never end as players fired again and again into this multi-flight tournament that guaranteed $250,000 and $50,000 for first. This iteration of the tournament, which is run multiple times throughout the summer, drew 3,167 entries and annihilated the guarantee with its $655,569 prize pool. The entire final table turned their $250 bullet into five-figure scores with Kladji Lika taking home $60,884 for first place. As a part of a deal, David Attride finished in second place for $47,900 with Neal Corcoran taking home slightly less for third with his career-high score of $46,138. Planet Hollywood also got in on the Seniors action as 505 players hopped in their $600 Seniors event. Remarkably, Mark Bramley, the same player who took down the ARIA Seniors event, won this tournament as well. He defeated World Series of Poker Main Event champion Greg Raymer in heads up battle. Bramley added another $43,503 to his Seniors Week total while Greg Raymer took home $31,843 for his largest score in a year. The DeepStack Championship Poker Series at The Venetian For players looking to play slightly bigger buy-ins from Planet Hollywood and the daily tournaments at the ARIA, the Venetian has that covered. Regularly offering tournaments for mid-stakes grinders, this week there were plenty of six-figure guaranteed tournaments to choose from. Keeping with the Seniors theme, the Venetian’s $800 buy-in Seniors tournament drew big numbers with 1,449 players battling for a piece of the one $1M prize pool. Las Vegas local Daniel Lacourse added another Seniors title to his resume taking home the $126,619 first-place prize, the second largest score of his career. His largest score? Lacourse is also the winner of the 2008 World Series of Poker Seniors Championship where he won $368,832. Mark Estes took home a career-high cash as the runner up, walking away with $122,881. One of the Venetian’s largest tournaments this week was their $600 No Limit Hold’em Epic Stack a four-day, mutli-flight affair that had 1,634 entries. In only his seventh recorded cash, Massachusetts resident Cameron Walker booked a career-high cash of $90,000 for first place. Runner up Richard Vielhak parlayed his $921 cash in the WSOP’s Big 50 into a $60,109 score in the Epic Stack. Finally, Australia’s Jenny Ding picked up $58,600 for third place.