Poker Central’s Super High Roller Bowl will be held at the ARIA in two months. This being just the fourth installment of the event, the SHRB has actually become quite the anticipated tournament. The $300,000 buy-in brings out the best players in the world and they are guaranteed to get exposure because it streams online via Poker Central’s PokerGO subscription service. Having the World Series of Poker begin right after the Super High Roller Bowl doesn’t hurt, either. What has been frustrating the shit out of me lately, though, is why in the hell is there a registration cap on this tournament?
In the Super High Roller Bowl’s inaugural year, 2015, there was no cap on entries and 43 players plunked down the $500,000 to participate with Brian Rast taking the title and $7.525 million. In 2016, the buy-in was lowered to its current $300,000 and a player cap of 49 was put in place with 14 seats reserved for ARIA’s high rolling, non-professional invitees. That one sold out quickly.
The registration process leading up to 2017’s Super High Roller Bowl was a goddamn mess. To start, the cap was upped to 50 players, with 15 of the seats held for the ARIA (never mind that 50 was a stupid number, as you can’t have evenly sized tables at the outset of the tournament unless you want the tables to be five-handed). When 54 players tried to register, tournament organizers decided to do away with the first-come, first-served registration method and go with a lottery format in an effort to try to be fair to everyone who wanted to play. A week later, the SHRB also decided to increase the maximum field size to 56, as that makes much more sense for table sizes, though the extra seats were given to ARIA.
This year’s entry cap is only 48, but 61 (SIXTY ONE!) players registered and only 30 seats were chosen via lottery, so half of them are now hoping that the ARIA will extend them an invite or they can win one of two seats in a $10,000 satellite.
That background complete, I ask again, why is the tournament capped? I cannot imagine that it is a space issue, as the ARIA has held tournaments with larger fields than the number of players who have tried to register for the SHRB. It would be so much easier to just remove the cap and let anyone who has the money signup. What would the tournament top out at? 70 players? 80 players? 90 players? It just seems silly to go through all the bullshit of a lottery and the casino having spots reserved for players it wants to invite.
Putting on my conspiracy cap, I can think of a few reasons why Poker Central limits participation in the Super High Roller Bowl, and all are stupid:
1) Create artificial demand by limiting supply. “I’m really not sure if I want to play in the SHRB, but if I don’t register right away, I won’t have the option!”
2) Drum up hype and attract PokerGO account signups for the live lottery.
3) A cousin of the first point, make the tournament seem more exclusive and prestigious.