Adelson’s Venetian infuriates the poker community with guarantee grab

Sheldon Adelson has a colourful history of angering poker players, most notably with his campaigning for online poker to be quashed in the US. His casino, the Venetian, has now fuelled that fire with its latest tournament offering – Lucky Shot Poker Series.

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Adelson’s casino has set a dangerous precedent for tournament poker

Lucky Shot Poker Series and Drawing

With a catchy name and an added twist of a prize draw worth $52,000, the big print for The Venetian’s upcoming Lucky Shot Poker Series looks promising. Seven events are scheduled with the Main Event promising a total prize pool of $150,000. Wait a moment, shouldn’t that be guaranteed prize pool instead of total? We hear you ask. In fact, no. Regardless of how many entries there are across the six day 1 starting flights, the prize pool is capped at $150,000.

The poker community has understandably taken to online forums to fire vitriol at the Venetian and encourage a boycott. Some have even questioned the legality of the poker tournament. Once the total buy ins hit the guarantee figure and have covered the $52,000 giveaway too, all buy ins go straight into the Venetian’s pocket.

What does this mean for rake?

Numbers have been posted online which clarify that if the field size hits 600, the guarantee for the tournament will have been reached and anything beyond that number becomes rake for the Venetian. There is a $52,000 prize draw for those playing in the series which skews the numbers somewhat, but players get one ticket for the draw each time they pay a $250 buy in during the series.

The Venetian

So, as that $52,000 is added value for the whole series instead of adding $52,000 of extra value to the main tournament, it’s impact on the rake numbers for that tournament are diminished. It adds approximately $7,500 of value per tournament as there are seven events in the series. So, on average, 630 or so players per tournament would be needed, which still gives the Venetian plenty of scope for collecting massively inflated amounts of rake.

The key point of contention of course, is that, although the $150,000 figure given is a guarantee of sorts, the money the players might win is being capped, while the money the Venetian can rake has been uncapped. Nobody knows what the final field size will be, but the Venetian could end up collecting as much as 50% rake, which is clearly disgraceful.

Online comment

As you might expect, this latest stunt by Adelson’s casino has caused outrage online with many professional players commenting. One player, Matt Berkey even posted on the Twitter feed of the event to ask if there had been a misunderstanding. Tournament Director Tommy LaRosa’s response did nothing to support that possibility, and later statements seemed to confirm that the rake system was as stated.

2+2 user “Kilowatt” said “This very non-standard buyin/payout scheme is not clearly disclosed in any prominent place and is buried in item #9 in the terms and conditions on page 2 of each event’s structure sheet…There is a good chance that many players will be unaware of this scheme until it’s too late.” This devious aspect of rake collection and also the fact that extending the registration period is not illegal and theoretically, the Venetian could decide to extend it mid-tournament all suggest shady tactics by the casino.

Another 2+2 user, “deuceblocker” added “This is typical of what many US businesses do. All sorts of greedy short-term money grabs that damage their reputation. This is going to do so much more damage to the Venetian’s reputation than they can possibly profit from it, even if they successfully run repeated tournaments like this”.

“WateryBoil” spoke in slightly stronger terms, stating “that sub-human rat Sheldon Adelson deserves the most painful torturous slow death imaginable, but this can’t be accurate”.

While we can’t condone every thought expressed on 2+2 since the tournament was announced, we can certainly understand the anger and frustration. Sheldon Adelson was instrumental in doing untold damage to online poker, with his actions already causing one boycotting movement against his casino.

For the sake of our game, let us all hope, and make sure that the field sizes for the Lucky Shot Poker Series are underwhelming.

Article by Craig Bradshaw