ARIA Names Group of Players for 2017 Super High Roller Bowl



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Buoyed by the attention – for better or worse – already garnered from previous events associated with it, the 2017 Super High Roller Bowl is ramping up to be a hotly contested battle this May. After choosing 35 players through a blind draw, the host casino ARIA in Las Vegas (the cohost of the tournament with the streaming network Poker Central) now has hand-picked 20 more players to join the field, leaving one more spot open for speculation.

Originally the tournament was to be set at 50 players, but the throng of potential contestants that flooded the ARIA cages with their deposits for the $300,000 buy in tournament surprised and stunned both the casino and its broadcast partner. In total 54 players showed support for the tournament, forcing ARIA and Poker Central into a controversial decision to determine the field:  a blind lottery draw that saw 35 names chosen from those who had put their money up. The remaining 15 slots were bestowed to ARIA for dispensing at their pleasure.

This was only the start of the controversy around the tournament, however. The runner up in the 2016 tournament, Fedor Holz, remarked on Twitter about his displeasure with how the selections were being handled. Justin Bonomo took Holz on, questioning Holz’s displeasure as he gets to play in a rake-free tournament for a large amount of money and that his complaints were misguided. Doug Polk took Holz’s side in the discussion, stating that it wasn’t right that ARIA had collected the deposits, then changed the rules on the players after the fact. The lively debate simmered for a bit before all sides calmed without a settlement.

While this was going on, ARIA and Poker Central changed the rules again. Instead of capping the field at 50 players (leaving an odd man out for seven-player tables), they decided to up the field size to 56 players (making for a nice round eight tables to start the tournament). Instead of opening up those six seats to players on the standby list, however, ARIA took them on to bring their total allotment to 21 seats in the now 56 player event. Additionally, ARIA and Poker Central took the route of declaring that the 2018 event would also be 56 players.

Not expected to announce players until closer to the event’s start date on May 28, ARIA instead has chosen to strike while the iron is hot. Earlier this week, ARIA announced 20 of the 21 players they had chosen to play in the tournament. The resulting list is a hodgepodge of businessmen and professional poker players that may or may not have already put a deposit down on a seat for the tournament previously.

Here’s a list of the 19 men and one woman chosen by ARIA to enter the 2017 Super High Roller Bowl:

Bill Klein
Bill Perkins
Bobby Baldwin
Cary Katz
Dan Colman
Dan Shak
Dan Smith
Daniel Negreanu
Dan Perper
Giuseppe Iadisernia
Jason Koon
Jason Mercier
John Morgan
Justin Bonomo
Lauren Roberts
Leon Tsoukernik
Phil Hellmuth
Talal Shakerchi
Antanas “Tony G” Guoga
Zach Hyman

There are some intriguing choices among these players. It is thought that Hellmuth had not put an entry into the previous 54 players and Guoga, who has been serving as a representative of Lithuania’s contingent in the European Parliament (the body that serves as the European Union’s legislature), stated in 2014 that he may play in charity events but he was “done” professionally. Finally, there is Roberts, the lone female player in the group (Kathy Lehne was the only female in the 2016 event), who has a limited Hendon Mob resume and is more known as a “equities and derivatives” trader. Then there’s Iadisernia, who has an interesting history in horse racing but not much experience on the felt.

With this list named, there is still one slot that ARIA is holding that hasn’t been filled. It is thought that ARIA is looking for a high-profile celebrity to take that seat, but they haven’t tipped their hand as to who is under consideration. That selection will probably not be named until much closer to the start of the tournament, indicating that more controversy may still be in the works.

The 2017 Super High Roller Bowl presented by Poker Central and ARIA will be run from May 28-June 1. The $300,000 tournament will feature a $16.8 million prize pool and pay out a $6 million payday to the eventual champion. Since Poker Central discontinued its television outlet, there is no word on whether the tournament will be broadcast on television or not (the 2016 event was broadcast on CBS Sports Network). It will be streamed on Poker Central’s Twitch page, however.

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