It’s often an overused expression, but "instant classic" seems to apply to the Wynn Classic Poker tournament that debuted at Wynn Las Vegas a couple of weeks ago.
Beginning with a $500 No Limit Hold’em event that attracted 668 players, the tournament has enjoyed enthusiastic crowds of players, ranging from newcomers to seasoned professionals.
"We’re excited and a little surprised that everything has run along so smoothly," said Deborah Giardina, director of poker operations at Wynn Las Vegas. "So far, our only glitch has been a microphone that needed to have the volume adjusted."
Giardina said that the Classic — the poker room’s first tournament — was strategically scheduled to follow the recently-concluded World Poker Tour’s L.A. Poker Classic in Los Angeles, and precede the upcoming WPT event in Tunica, Mississippi.
It also hasn’t hurt that the NBC Heads-Up Poker Championship has been filming at Caesars Palace.
"We’ve had some of their players, including world champions Greg "Fossilman" Raymer and Jamie Gold, come over to our poker room and play," Giardina said. "I expect they and others will be back for our main event this week."
One touring professional, David Levi, who has several WPT final tables on his resume, has already won a Wynn Classic event — a $1,000 buy-in no limit hold’em event. Levi took home $93,314 when he outlasted 259 other players last Friday.
Staging a nearly "flawless" tournament is key to Wynn’s plans for expanding its influence in the poker universe, Giardina said.
"The Classic will be a springboard for the next stage, which should be in the televised arena," she said.
Although Giardina added that she wasn’t at liberty to discuss the various proposals that are on her desk, she said the Wynn poker room was perched to move on to "bigger and better things."
Conceivably, those could include World Poker Tour and/or World Series of Poker Circuit events.
For now, she said the task has been to make the Classic — as well as its ongoing poker operation — the best experience possible for the players.
"Customer satisfaction is always the goal, and that’s done through customer service," she said.
The poker tournament, which began Feb. 22, continues through March 11. It will culminate with a $10,000 buy-in event beginning March 8.
Along the way, the Classic has featured a nice mix of events, including Pot Limit Omaha and Omaha Hi-Lo Split events, as well as a rare limit hold’em event and a mixed (H.O.S.) event.
Not counting the opening event, buy-ins have ranged from $1,000 to $3,000.
"There’s still a market for those mixed or ”˜off’ games such as Omaha and limit hold’em," said Wynn Poker Tournament Director David Eglseder.
Eglseder added that the tournament’s structure — starting chips, blinds, antes and length of rounds — has been tailored to give entrants "enough time to play their game" without stretching the event into a "wait for aces showdown."
For players who want to win their way into the events, the Classic features a generous satellite and super satellite system as well.
Single table satellites are held daily with buy-ins ranging from $130 to $1,050, while super satellites for entry into the $10,000 main event will be held Wednesday, March 7.
For more information about the Wynn Classic Poker tournament, check out its web site, wynnpoker.com.