On Thursday, the $300 no-limit hold'em event drew 629 players and created a first prize of about $57,000. It's hard to beat that kind of return on investment for the winner.
These tournaments would draw even more players if the Venetian had more space. The casino uses 48 tables (including several overflow tables in front of the poker room, nestled between some slot machines) to accommodate 480 players, and as entrants bust out during the first few levels alternates are allowed to play. So even though there were around 400 alternates for Thursday's tournament, only 149 of them got into action.
Players got a starting stack of 6,000 chips for the $300 events and 10,000 chips for the $550 and $1,060 tournaments. Blinds start at 25-50 and go up every 30 minutes.
"Players enjoy our tournament format because it offers the feel and experience of playing in a major tournament without the major buy-ins," said Kathy Raymond, director of poker room operations.
The Venetian was running satellites into the tournaments. Buy0-ins for these were $80, $130 and $240 with each having two winners who got $300, $500 and $1,000 in lammers, plus some cash.
Sam Binder from Philadelphia won one of the $130 satellites on Wednesday night and used it to play the Thursday $330 NLHE event. He busted out about 90th in the event and planned to use his two leftover lammers to play another satellite for Friday's $550 tournament.
Binder, who works as a contractor/handyman, but is considering giving professional poker a shot, said he liked the blind structures of the Deep Stack Extravaganza tournaments.
"Here they give you more for your money," he said. "The deep stacks take a little luck out of the equation."
Binder tried his luck at the World Series of Poker earlier on his trip but was frustrated at the fast blind structures and overall atmosphere.
"F--- the Rio," he said. "I am so upset with them. It's horrible. They're just about the money."
The first Deep Stack Extravaganza, held this spring, featured a total of more than 4,700 entrants and a total prize pool of $1.6 million. Both of those numbers will be easily eclipsed by the event's sequel. More than $4.5 million was won through the first 22 events and more than 9,500 players had entered.
Binder was surprised at the crowds at the Venetian, considering all of the other poker action taking place in Vegas this summer.
"It's amazing with all of this action that there are 600 people in this joint," he said.
The Venetian will host another major tournament after the Deep Stack Extravaganza concludes. The CEO Poker Tour, which is billed as the event "where all executives play", will take center stage from July 2-10, with buy-ins starting at $500 and concluding with a $2,500 main event beginning on July 9. Although the tour is designed as both a series of poker tournaments (with stops in Atlantic City and other places to be determined) and a method for top business executives to network, these tournaments are open to all players.*You don't have to be in Las Vegas to get in on the tournament action - don't miss this event, The PokerNews Cup! *