A Look at the Deep Stack Extravaganza IV with the Venetian's Kathy Raymond
Four times a year, Las Vegas poker action heats up with the Venetian’s wildly popular Deep Stack Extravaganza. The tournaments, introduced in 2007, have grown in size and prestige over the past three years. In fact, the Deep Stack Extravaganza has inspired knock-off tournaments throughout Sin City. A generous starting stack, a kind structure, and a luxurious atmosphere are just a few of the things that make the Venetian the go-to place for tournament poker on the Strip.
On Thursday, Oct. 27, the Deep Stack Extravaganza IV kicked off with its last series of the year. Slated to last through Nov. 22, the series will span 27 days and feature two tournaments on most of those days. These tournaments will vary in buy-in and format, with each being carefully selected to satisfy the demands of the poker-playing clientele.
By putting players first, the Deep Stack Extravaganza has become one of Las Vegas’ premiere poker events, drawing an eclectic mix of tourists, locals, amateurs, and professionals. One pro who was eager to play in the latest Deep Stack installment, or at least to eat, was Dan “Wretchy” Martin, who encouraged his friend Jordan Young to partake in the Deep Stack fun — as well as the daily complimentary buffet.
Aside from the tournament action and salacious buffet, players will find plenty of other incentives at the Deep Stack Extravaganza IV. For example, players can earn points and qualify for Best Overall Players cash awards and free Deep Stack merchandise will be given with every tournament entry (while supplies last of course).
Complete Deep Stack Extravaganza IV Schedule
|Day||Date||12 PM Events||3 PM Events|
|Thursday||10/27/11||$340 No-Limit Day 1A||$150 No-Limit Big Bounty|
|Friday||10/28/11||$340 No-Limit Day 1B||$150 No-Limit Big Bounty|
|Sunday||10/30/11||$550 No-Limit||$340 Omaha 8/B|
|Monday||10/31/11||$340 No-Limit||$150 No-Limit Big Bounty|
|Tuesday||11/1/11||$340 No-Limit||$340 PLO|
|Wednesday||11/2/11||$340 No-Limit||$150 No-Limit Big Bounty|
|Thursday||11/3/11||$340 No-Limit||$340 H.O.R.S.E.|
|Friday||11/4/11||$550 No-Limit||$150 No-Limit Big Bounty|
|Sunday||11/6/11||$340 No-Limit||$340 PLO/PLO8|
|Monday||11/7/11||$340 No-Limit||$150 No-Limit Big Bounty|
|Tuesday||11/8/11||$340 No-Limit||$340 Omaha 8/Stud 8|
|Wednesday||11/9/11||$340 No-Limit||$150 No-Limit Big Bounty|
|Thursday||11/10/11||$340 No-Limit||$230 No-Limit LADIES|
|Friday||11/11/11||$550 No-Limit||$150 No-Limit Big Bounty|
|Sunday||11/13/11||$1,070 No-Limit||$340 H.O.R.S.E.|
|Monday||11/14/11||$340 No-Limit||$150 No-Limit Big Bounty|
|Tuesday||11/15/11||$340 No-Limit||$550 PLO|
|Wednesday||11/16/11||$340 No-Limit||$150 No-Limit Big Bounty|
|Thursday||11/17/11||$340 No-Limit||$340 PLO 8|
|Friday||11/18/11||$550 No-Limit||$150 No-Limit Big Bounty|
|Saturday||11/19/11||$275 Super Satellites||None|
|Monday||11/21/11||$2,500 No-Limit Day 2 @ 2 P.M.||None|
|Tuesday||11/22/11||$2,500 No-Limit Day 3 @ 4 P.M.||None|
In addition to its Deep Stack events, the Venetian will be hosting two nightly tournaments: a 7 p.m. $175 no-limit event with 10,000 starting chips and 30 minute levels; and a 10 p.m. $120 no-limit event with 8,000 starting chips and 20 minute levels. These are great options for players who bust the 3 p.m. events but are still hungry for poker action.
Time and again, the Venetian proves itself a leader in the Las Vegas poker industry. PokerNews recently sat down with the woman behind the Venetian poker room’s success, Kathy Raymond, who serves as director of poker operations. Raymond was kind enough to give us a little insight on the Deep Stack Extravaganza, including what sets them apart from the competition.
Could you start us off by telling us a little bit about the Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza, including its history?
Well, the Deep Stack Series really commenced in, I believe it was April of 2007, and that was based on players' requests. An acknowledgement of the fact that a lot of poker players were becoming much more educated, knowing the skills it took to play a tournament, and unfortunately many of the tournaments were low starting chip stacks, 10 to 15 minute levels. It was basically getting them in the seat and then out of the seat as quick as possible.
So [the players] really didn’t have the opportunity to use their skills. We decided to fill that void by offering a deep-stack event, which gave them not only significant starting chips, but gave them significant levels including the number themselves, but also the amount of time in each level. People were now able to be less dependent on luck, and more dependent on their own skill. They rallied for it and it became a successful event.
Which of your four yearly Deep Stack events tends to be the most popular?
Obviously, the June through July event because every poker player on the planet is here in Las Vegas. During that time we get our highest turnout, the highest pro volume, and you know, we get people from all over the world. I believe in the last Deep Stack we had every state in the Union represented, as well as 23 different countries. We definitely have the word out as far as our Deep Stack events, and there very well participated in throughout the year, especially in June and July.
Your format has proven so popular that other properties have begun hosting deep-stack events, including the World Series of Poker which added numerous daily deep-stack tournaments to its schedule. How do you feel about this and what are you doing to compete?
First of all, I have to say I’m very glad that the deep-stack mentality has proliferated throughout the industry, because I think that’s very good for the players, and that is what we’re here for, to make the experience the right one for the players. The fact that everyone has sort of jumped on board with that, I take it as more of a compliment than anything. As I said, our purpose was to do it for the players, it was really by demand I think, that players were demanding other casinos offer the deep-stack play. I think it’s great that they responded.
Obviously it does put much more of a competitive stance as far as our tournaments versus others. The World Series caters to a lot of higher buy-ins, although they did have their three deep stack events per day at lower buy-ins. That notwithstanding, our events have been known for not only just the starting chip stacks and the blind structures, but for putting on an extremely professional event where players feel confident that our staff knows what they’re doing, that there’s consistency in our ruling, that we put out our rules on paper and stick to them. That everything is very clear-cut and professionally run.
We typically have plenty of space to hold our tournaments, along with the amenities that come with it, like the table-side food service that we offer. Some other small things like self-service coffee stations throughout the tournament area, to something we’re running for our November Deep Stack, which is we started offering a free buffet daily, which is 27 days of free lunch to all of our tournament and cash players, just as an end-of-the-year thank you for their participation here at the Venetian.
So there’s a lot more to it than just the tournament structure. If you don’t have the right personnel, if you don’t have the right customer service . . . it takes all of those elements to keep an event successful, outgoing, and competitive.
We understand the Venetian is releasing a new mobile app for the poker room, can you tell us a little bit about that?
As of Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011, you can actually go onto www.venetian.com/pokermobile/ and at that point you can get mobile app via your phone, or even check it out on your computer, and I believe it is updated every ten seconds as to the number of cash games that we have going, the number of players on the waiting list for those games, and also the number of players who are on any interest list for any games that aren’t going yet.
This provides our players a lot of information. We were doing this originally via social media, on Facebook and on Twitter, and usually updating like every two hours or so . . . now that we have this mobile site that players can go to, that will help with convenience. Players don’t have to call anymore and they can see up-to-the-minute updates.
Are players able to get on a list through the mobile app or the website?
That is actually phase two, and that will be coming along anywhere between three to six months down the road. What we do anticipate is that we would have the players sign up on a list via their phone, but they would be required to use their Grazie Club number, and that’s just really to limit what we would call a fictitious list. We wouldn’t want people going on their and throwing names up there when it’s not real. So it legitimizes it a little bit if they have a Grazie Card number, which would be verified against the name being submitted. They’d then be placed on the list as a call-in and would have an hour to come on in and retain their place on the list.
The other thing we’re going to add to this site is our tournaments, so on any given day you can go and see the tournament that is going to be played that day. We get so many calls from players saying, “How many players do you have so far?” So they’d be able to actually go to this site and see.
Executive Editor US, PokerNews Podcast co-host & 2013 WSOP Bracelet Winner.