The world of tournament poker has been in a slumber for the past year-plus. Slowly, however, tournaments are coming back to life. The World Poker Tour is running some live events in Florida and Nevada (next stop is the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, FL, for the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Poker Showdown in April), while other smaller tours like the Mid-States Poker Tour take tentative steps back into action. The ARIA High Roller Series seems to be ready to join the fray once again, opening the doors to their big money events and perhaps our first opportunity to see a prop bet get some play.

Not for the Faint of Heart…

If you are looking to take part in the ARIA High Roller Series, you should bring a sizeable bankroll. On March 31 and April 1, the poker room will put on two $10,000 tournaments. Both of those events will feature unlimited reentries for the players, but they will be completed in one day. On April 2 and April 3, the “price of poker will go up,” as the legendary Mike Sexton was wont to say, as two $25,000 tournaments will take place. There also will be no rake charged to the players for registering pre-tournament or late registrants and re-entries will only face a nominal $500 fee.

All four events will utilize the same rules. There will be 40-minute levels and late registration will close on the event after Level 7. There will be a “shot clock” on the tournaments, with the players having to make their decisions within 30 seconds. The players will receive six, 30-second extensions that they can use during the tournament and, should the players reach the final table, then they will receive another six extensions to add to whatever they have left.

The final table rules have been firmly set, perhaps an ode to the issues with the WPT Venetian a couple of weeks ago. ARIA will play the event seven handed but, once they reach eight players, all the players will come together for action. The players and staff will also adhere to the current COVID guidelines by wearing masks for the entirety of the tournaments.

Prior to the COVID pandemic, these ARIA High Roller events proved to be something that the deep pocketed players in the poker community wanted. The last ARIA Winter High Roller Series in February 2020 drew in such notable names as Cary Katz, Ali Imsirovic, Jake Schindler, and Erik Seidel. ARIA High Roller events run during the 2019 World Series of Poker schedule, the last time the poker world gathered for that prestigious event, also were well attended and enjoyed by the competitors.

Could We See First Blood in the Hellmuth/Negreanu Prop Bet?

With the return of the ARIA High Roller Series, is it possible that we could see some action in the prop bet/budding rivalry between poker legends Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu?

For those who might have forgotten, one of the spats between Hellmuth and Negreanu – outside of their upcoming High Stakes Duel on PokerGO – has been about Hellmuth’s high stakes play abilities. Negreanu has challenged that Hellmuth doesn’t have the ability to stand up to the litany of high stakes pros who take part in the High Roller events. He even proffered a bet on the subject with Hellmuth, which was apparently accepted.

Should Hellmuth play 50 $25,000 ARIA High Roller events and even emerge with $1 of a profit, Hellmuth would earn $400,000 from Negreanu. If he were unable to pull out a profit over those 50 events, Hellmuth would owe Negreanu $200,000. Because of the limited size of those fields (they usually range from 15-25 players at ARIA), Hellmuth would have to either win a couple of them or steadily cash in the tournaments to be able to offset the $1.25 million in buy-ins that would be racked up. Since these tournaments are the first that have arisen since the prop bet was made, it is possible that it is the first chance to see if Hellmuth is going to act on the bet.

For a poker world that has been bereft of tournament action, it is possible these tournaments could be very well attended. We should get an idea when the cards hit the air for the first $10K tournament on March 31.

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