Poker news | Dec 03, 2019
Venetian $150k Tournament Angers Poker Community
By RTR Dennis
The Venetian recently held a $250 buy-in poker tournament with a $150,000 guaranteed prize pool. An additional $52,000 will be awarded during the tourney through drawing prizes. This event sounds good so far, considering the small buy-in relative to the solid prize pool.
However, many prominent members of the poker community are angry over the ‘Lucky Shot Poker’ Main Event. The cause of their anger is a weird prize pool structure, whereby the $150k represents the maximum amount of prize money.
No more prizes were offered beyond the $150,000 sum + $52k in drawing awards — regardless of how many people entered.
In a standard guaranteed event, the prize pool grows beyond its original guarantee if lots of players enter. But not here, as the prize pool would’ve remained at $150k even if one million people registered.
Doug Polk Called for Players to Boycott Lucky Shot
The Lucky Shot Poker tournament might’ve been extremely popular. However, famed pro Doug Polk led a campaign to boycott the tourney on grounds of the unfair prize structure.
Polk believes that this tourney was all about taking advantage of amateur players. It lured low rollers in with a cheap $250 buy-in and promised another $52k in drawing prizes.
However, it was ultimately a ploy for the Venetian to make even more money than standard tournament rake, which ranges between 10% and 20% of the buy-in. The Vegas casino banked on a large number of people playing in the event and collectively spending far more than $150k + $52k.
Venetian Tries to Control the Damage
The Venetian staff was aware of the criticism going around about their event. The casino’s PR staff noted that their Lucky Shot Poker Main Event offered a $150k guaranteed prize pool with another $52k in drawing prizes.
However, they negated to mention anything about how capping the guarantee at $150k might effectively increase rake.
The fact of the matter is that the Venetian fully realizes what they set out to do with this event: take advantage of players who didn’t read the fine print.
Will Other Poker Rooms Follow the Venetian’s Lead?
Poker has never been a serious moneymaker for casinos. In fact, gambling establishments used to operate poker tournaments and cash games at a big loss just to get people through the door.
The boom years (2003-06) helped make poker a more-profitable venture. However, it’s still not slot machines or baccarat to casinos in terms of revenue.
The Venetian thought up a new scheme to make the game more lucrative to them. They set up a seemingly great structure thanks to the $250 entry and over $200k worth of total prizes. But what they really counted on is players not understanding that the prize money was capped no matter what.
This casino likely already knew that they’d draw well over $202k worth of entries. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have staged this event in the first place.
Other casinos may try a similar move in the future. But then again, they might not want to considering all of the heat that the Venetian took. The famed Vegas casino may have hurt their reputation and done more harm than good with the Lucky Star Poker Main Event.