Players left in the lurch

Los Angeles poker players are fuming, as L.A.’s Hustler Casino recently canceled a guaranteed prize pool tournament mid-stream. Citing “unexpected circumstances,” the casino announced on Tuesday that it was eliminating the remaining dates of the $350 buy-in, $250,000 guaranteed event of the Larry Flynt’s Grand Slam of Poker Memorial Tournament.

The tourney is not completely over, which, frankly, is something that many players would just prefer. There were a dozen starting flights on the schedule (Hustler had increased the number of flights earlier in the poker festival, presumably to help meet the guarantee) and only four had been played before the cancellation announcement. Everyone remaining in the tournament will return on August 8 for Day 2, which was originally supposed to be Sunday, August 7, to play for whatever prize pool that had been generated.

That’s an oopsie

In a tweet, Hustler Casino general manager Shaun Yaple said that the decision was made because a “Bigger club stepped on us after we released our schedule. Better to re-group and plan for the future then head off a cliff.”

There are two things implied here. The first is obvious: tournament organizers forecast that there was going to be an overlay and they did not want to lose money having to cover part of the guaranteed prize pool. The second is that the “bigger club” is likely the nearby Parkwest Bicycle Casino, best known as “The Bike.”

The World Poker Tour announced the schedule for its annual Legends of Poker festival at The Bike on July 14. The festival runs July 25 through September 1, with the WPT Legends of Poker Main Event starting August 27.

So, Yaple seems to be saying that he and those in charge did not see the Legends of Poker coming and when it did, it drew players away from Hustler. In his defense, the WPT Legends of Poker was not held in three of the past four years, but historically, it had been a regular on the WPT schedule around the same spot on the calendar. Perhaps a call to The Bike earlier this summer would have been wise?

But regardless of whether or not it was reasonable for Hustler Casino to have been taken by surprise by the Legends of Poker, it still guaranteed a $250,000 prize pool. The prize pool is guaranteed. No matter how many people play. Yes, poker rooms always have the disclaimer that they can cancel or change a tournament at any time, but this is a REALLY bad look.

The unfortunate thing for Hustler Casino is that there is a realistic chance it will lose out on more money from people refusing to play there in the future than it would from shouldering the overlay.

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