Venetian Poker Room First in Las Vegas to Host Multi-Table Tournaments Post-Shutdown

  • Five-handed, 80-player max NLH shootouts will run on Friday and Saturday
  • The only tournaments to this point have been single-table Sit-and-Gos
  • Poker rooms received permission to go from four players per table to five
  • Major poker tournaments have either been postponed or moved online during pandemic
Gondola rides in the canals of the Venetian in Las Vegas
The two No-Limit Hold’em Shootout tournaments this weekend at The Venetian will be the first multi-table poker tournaments in Las Vegas since the pandemic shutdown. [Image: f11photo /]

80-player max shootout tourneys

The Venetian is about to become the first Las Vegas casino to host multi-table poker tournaments since the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. In a post on Twitter, the Venetian poker room announced two such tournaments, one on Friday, June 19, and one on Saturday, June 20.

Both tournaments are $250 No-Limit Hold’em Shootout events. Tables are five max, with a cap of 80 total entrants. $25 of the buy-in is the entry fee, going to the house, and another $15 is withheld for tournament staff. Players can register late during the first two levels, but no re-entries are permitted.

$16,800 prize pool per tournament

If the tournaments hit capacity, there will be 16 five-handed tables in each with a $16,800 prize pool per tournament. As they are shootout tournaments, each table will play down to a single winner, like a Sit-and-Go.

The eight winners will then split into four tables of four, all players starting with the same number of chips. The winners of those four tables will advance to the final, four-handed table, again starting action with equal chip stacks.

If there are at least 48 total players, the last two players at each table in the second round will make the money. If fewer than 48 players enter, just the four players at the final table will cash.

Regulator granted poker room concessions

When Nevada casinos reopened on June 4, one of the many health and safety regulations put in place was a limit of four players per poker table.

The three poker rooms that opened right away – South Point, The Orleans, and The Venetian – quickly found that they could not generate enough player traffic with such a restriction. They petitioned the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) and were granted permission to increase table caps to five players. The Golden Nugget opened during the first weekend, also receiving the green light to go five-handed.

The typical minimum table capacity in a live poker room is six players. Full games run eight- or nine-handed, sometimes ten-handed if necessary. Most players feel more comfortable in games with more opponents because blinds come around less frequently and they can be more selective in their starting hand ranges.

Because poker is a player-versus-player game, poker rooms need their poker tables to be full to make money. If there aren’t enough players, games can’t run and the casino can’t generate rake. This explains the poker rooms’ need to increase the number of players permitted per table, even if it is still lower than desired.

Poker tournaments are slow to return

Nearly 70% of the casinos in the U.S. have reopened, despite the country still being in the middle of the pandemic. Most are opening with reduced capacity and leaving some services closed for now. Poker rooms will be among the last parts of casino properties to reopen in most cases because of challenges surrounding social distancing and card and chip sanitization.

major live poker tournaments have been cancelled, postponed, or moved online

Because casinos around the country shut down in mid-March and most poker rooms will remain closed or very limited for a while, major live poker tournaments have been canceled, postponed, or moved online. Of particular note is the 2020 World Series of Poker, held annually at the Rio just off the Las Vegas Strip. Caesars finally decided to postpone the WSOP in April. Just last week it announced an 85-bracelet “World Series of Poker Online”, held on both and GGPoker.

The WSOP has also shifted Circuit events to the internet, including the Circuit season-ending Global Casino Championship. The World Poker Tour has also teamed up with partypoker for several online poker festivals.