Every summer for the past 47 years, the world's best poker players have flocked to the Las Vegas to test their mettle at the annual World Series of Poker. Things won't be much different for the 2016 WSOP, which we are once again sponsoring, except for the fact that nowadays there are literally hundreds of options to choose from.
While the WSOP is poker's premiere festival, there are other worthwhile events and tournament series on the calendar. Here's a look at five you might want to consider when you're in Vegas this summer.
The GPS at the Golden Nugget – May 31 – July 3
The 2016 Grand Poker Series (GPS) at Golden Nugget, which is being hosted in conjunction with Poker Night in America, features 59 events with more $1 million in guarantees. In addition, there are $100 daily tournaments and a slew of satellites dotting the schedule.
The series features affordable buy-ins, most ranging from $150-$570, with the majority scheduled as one-day affairs; in fact, just four events are multi-day.
One of the highlights on the schedule is Event #7: Poker Night in America, a tournament that boasts a $1,675 buy-in. The five-day event, which runs from June 3-7, features three starting flights and will be filmed for TV.
Another highlight is the $10,000 Seniors Super High Roller – the largest buy-in of the series – which will take place June 26 and require players be 50 or older.
Finally, the GPS $570 buy-in, $500,000 guaranteed Main Event will run from Wednesday, June 29 through Saturday, July 2 and feature three starting flights. That tournament looks to surpass the 1,330 entries from last year, which is when Christian Francia outlasted the competition to take home $89,298.
For a look at the 2016 GPS schedule, click here.
Mid-States Poker Tour Main Event – June 6-10
From June 6-10, the Mid-States Poker Tour (MSPT) will host their Season 7 Mid-Season Championship -- a $1,100 buy-in, $2 million guaranteed Main Event – during the Venetian's DeepStack Extravaganza III.
"This is the third summer we've hosted an event at the Venetian, and things keep getting bigger and better," said MSPT owner and operator Bryan Mileski. "With a massive $2 million guarantee on this year's tournament, we expect to draw a mix of poker pros, amateurs, and tour regulars and host the largest event in MSPT history."
The tournament will start players with 20,000 in chips and offers 40-minute levels. There will be three starting flights beginning Monday, June 6 at Noon. Days 1b and 1c will take place at the same time on Tuesday, June 7 and Wednesday, June 8, respectively. Late registration will remain open until 6:30 p.m. each day.
The survivors from each flight will then combine for Day 2 action on Thursday, June 9 and play down to a final table of 10, which will then play out Friday, June 10. The Main Event will be live reported throughout in the new MSPT Live Blog, which launched at the start of Season 7.
The MSPT first visited the Venetian back in 2014 when Chicago's Dale Bronk topped a field of 854 entries to capture a $163,870 first-place prize. One year later, attendance more than doubled as 1,964 entrants took to the felt to crush the $1 million guarantee by creating a $1,964,000 prize pool, of which $215,815 went to 25-year-old Angelina Rich, who became the first woman in history to win a MSPT title.
The Venetian DeepStack Extravaganza III Warm-Up and DeepStack Extravaganza III run May 16-26 and May 26-July 24, respectively. The warm-up series features 17 events and $420,500 in guarantees, while the DSE III features a 90-event schedule.
Planet Hollywood Goliath Series
Last year, the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino’s Phamous Poker Series GOLIATH, which mirrored the WSOP schedule at a cheaper price point, proved a tremendous hit. It drew in more than 26,000 entrants from around the world and awarded more than $7.8 million in prize money. As such, it's no surprise to see it return this summer from May 26 through July 10.
Phamous Poker Series GOLIATH will feature a more diversified offering of events with a dozen non-hold‘em tournaments, two team tournaments, multiple short-handed tournaments, two Quantum Tournaments, Ladies International Poker Series, Exposed Hold’em hosted by Dutch Boyd, and five charitable events.
This year’s series will top last year’s event with more than $8 million up for grabs across 115 events. In addition, the GOLIATH $1,650 Main Event will take place July 7-10 and boasts a $2 million guaranteed.
“Phamous Poker Series GOLIATH offers something for everyone to enjoy,” said Planet Hollywood Poker Room Manager and creator of the Phamous Poker Series, Chris Gawlik. “Recreational, grinders and professional poker players will have a wonderful time at Planet Hollywood this summer!”
For a look at the entire GOLIATH schedule, click here.
Bellagio Cup XII Poker Tournament
From July 13-19, Bellagio's popular poker series, the Bellagio Cup, will return for its twelfth rendition. Things will kick off on Wednesday, July 13 with a $1,000 + $90 Super Satellite at Noon. Then, at the same time on Thursday, July 14, the $10,000 + $400 Bellagio Cup XII will get underway.
The plan for the five-day event is to play five 90-minute levels each day, and late registration will remain open until Day 3 at the start of Level 13, which corresponds to approximately 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, July 16.
Last year, the Bellagio Cup XI drew 301 entries and created a massive $2,919,700 prize pool. Our own Dominik Nitsche finished runner-up in that event for $479,732 – the third-largest cash of his career – while Sean Winter ultimately captured the title and a $562,772 first-place prize.
For a look at the Bellagio Cup XII schedule, click here.
$300,000 Super High Roller Bowl
This one will be a bit hard to get into not only because of the steep buy-in, but also because the event is currently sold out! Still, we include it here as it's one of the most highly-anticipated events of the summer, and if you're in Vegas from May 29 through June 1, which is when the tournament will be held, you may want to make your way over to ARIA to rub elbows with poker's elite.
The second edition of the Super High Roller Bowl, which is presented by Poker Central and filmed by Poker PROductions, follows a successful launch in 2015. That event, which was a bit more expensive with a $500,000 buy-in, drew 43 players and saw Brian Rast walk away with a $7,525,000 first-place prize.
This year's tournament, which is rake free and will see the prize pool juiced an additional $300,000 by sponsors, is capped at 49 players. Among those confirmed to play are Antonio Esfandiari, Daniel Negreanu, Erik Seidel, Phil Hellmuth, and 888poker Pro Dominik Nitsche.
"I was a bit sad to have missed out on the $500,000 buy-in last year," said Nitsche. "It sounded like such an amazing event, but I quite honestly wasn't convinced it would be great value. This year they have decided to add an extra $300,000 to the prize pool to create a negative rake. I have also heard quite a few amateur players are interested in playing. I have done quite well in high roller tournaments recently, so I figured why not?"
To view the full list of players, click here.