Two events out of the gate

From the “I’m not so sure this is the best idea” files, the Venetian Poker Room has embarked upon Las Vegas’ first live poker tournament series during the COVID-19 pandemic. The DeepStack Showdown kicked off on Monday, September 7 and will run through Sunday, September 27. It features 32 events and more than $400,000 in guaranteed prize pools.

The first event, $250 No-Limit Hold’em SuperStack, began Monday morning and drew 268 players. It smashed the $10,000 guarantee, generating a $54,940 prize pool. With $45 taken out of the buy-in for the tournament fee and staff, the tournament only would have needed to draw 49 players to avoid overlay.

The second event, $125 No-Limit Bounty with a $2,000 guarantee, is currently underway as this is being written. Registration has not closed.

Venetian not shy about going for it

The Venetian was one of the first Las Vegas to reopen, doing so on June 5, the day after Nevada casinos were permitted to welcome back customers. It was also in the first batch of Vegas casinos to open its poker room, along with The Orleans, South Point, and Golden Nugget. Nevada Gaming Control Board regulations initially said that poker tables could only be four-max, but the casinos asked if they could go to give. The NGCB said that was fine and they were off and running.

The Venetian again led the way with poker tournaments, becoming the first poker room in Las Vegas to hold multi-table tournaments. The one-day tournaments easily hit they maximum capacity of 80 players, or 14 tables.

There does not appear to a player limit on the DeepStack Showdown.

“Since we resumed hosting OneDay poker tournaments, we have seen tremendous support from the poker tournament community; therefore, we wanted to work toward putting together one of our most popular series, the DeepStack Showdown Poker Series,” the Venetian’s tournament director, Tommy LaRosa, told CardPlayer.

He added that the poker room’s priority is to make sure the poker environment is safe for everybody. Gradually moving from only cash games to single-table tournament to one-day multi-table tournaments helped management figure out how to “refine our protocols.”

“We recently installed plexiglass dividers at each table, allowing for eight-handed play, and we continue with the Venetian Clean Commitment we reopened with – sanitizing tables, chairs, chips, dividers, etc.,” LaRosa said. “All patrons must wear masks regardless of the plexiglass dividers being installed.”

COVID-19 likes casinos

Nevada ranks right in the middle of the states in terms of total confirmed cases of COVID-19. After casinos reopened, the daily new case numbers skyrocketed, as many expected. Health and safety measures were surprisingly lax at the outset, particularly with regard to face masks. At first, patrons were not required to wear protective face coverings. As things got worse, though, it got to the point where everyone in a public space was required.

The numbers have gone down in the last few weeks, as they have in much of the country, but daily case counts are still well above what they were before casinos reopened.

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