Tournament season's in full swing

Mar 17, 2009 4:03 PM
The Inside Straight by Joe Awada |

The Wynn Classic poker tournament comes to a close this week with its $10,000 buy-in main event, and if all goes well I’ll still be playing as you’re reading about it!

I played in an earlier event, but couldn’t generate anything worth writing about here.

Nonetheless, the 18 event tournament drew a good number of players, including a few high-profile professionals and celebrities.

Let me point out that, just like the poker room itself, the Wynn Classic is a classy affair, well-managed with a courteous and efficient staff.

This is something we’ve come to expect at Wynn, where manager Deborah Giardina has done a stellar job in running the operation.

In the time I played at Wynn, I noticed that the quality of the tournament player is a little higher, maybe one or two notches, than some of the other tourneys in Las Vegas.

Perhaps contributing to this are the buy-ins, which run a little higher than most events – most of them were $1,000, with a handful at $500.

The tournament still attracted several hundred players in the events I observed, so it’s good to see poker is still strong in Las Vegas.

While I was at Wynn, I ran into an old buddy, O’Neil, who owns a World Series gold bracelet as a former Razz champion.

We decided to play a little heads-up poker, which the Wynn staff set up for us. We also played some Stud poker and Deuces 7 Triple Draw.

I guess people must have thought we knew what we were doing as a little crowd formed around our table. They somehow knew it was a battle of gold bracelet winners!

Beyond the Classic poker tournament, Wynn has done some great things in their poker room. First they have a nice mix of No Limit Hold’em cash games, starting at $1-3 and $2-5 and increasing to $5-10 and $10-20.

They offer mixed games at the $10-20 level, as well as heads-up games, such as the one O’Neil and I squared off in.

They also offer a great stud game, $40-$80, which is new to the Wynn poker room. Of course, I couldn’t resist jumping in, since my gold bracelet at the World Series was for taking down the Stud championship.

Without getting too graphic, let me say it was a great game and I left with a smile on my face.

My smile was almost big enough to walk down the hall to the Ferrari dealership and drive home in a new buggy. Maybe next time!

Upcoming events

As we’ve point out before, we’re in the midst of the poker tournament season here in Las Vegas, with plenty of events for players of all levels.

Coming up in April is The Venetian’s Deep Stack Extravaganza II, which follows on the heels of Deep Stack I held in February.

Kathy Raymond and The Venetian staff do a great job and this event has really taken off in the last couple of years. Buy-ins start at $300 and there’s a nice mix of games – mostly No Limit Hold’em, but there’s also a H.O.R.S.E. event, as well as pot limit Omaha and Omaha 8 or better.

Also in April, Caesars Palace hosts its World Series of Poker Circuit event, which kicks off April 11 and continues through the $5,000 Circuit Championship Event, April 27-30.

Along the way there are plenty of No Limit Hold’em events, starting as low as $300 buy-in, and spiced up with pot Limit Omaha, Omaha 8 or better, a heads-up No Limit Hold’em event and a Double Stack Turbo event.

Last but certainly not least, Bellagio hosts the seventh annual, Five Star World Poker Classic and World Poker Tour championship, April 1-25.

The 13-event schedule is expected to attract plenty of big-name pros who will hone their skills for the World Series scheduled to begin in May.

Buy-ins at the World Poker Tour event range from $500 to $5,000, with the World Championship event commanding a $25,000 entry fee (satellites will be available).

Last year the championship event attracted 545 players with the winner walking away with about $3.4 million.

We’ll take a closer look at these tournaments in the weeks ahead.