Poker Central's Sam Simmons Talks US Poker Open

Sam Simmons

Ask anyone in the world to name a place they associate with poker, and Las Vegas will be the majority of your answers. Sin City just breaths poker, with a table to play at in just about every other casino. Binion's Horseshoe, the Rio, and the Bellagio, all of them have made a name for themselves. But there's a poker room that now hosts the most action; the ARIA Resort & Casino.

That's partly because of the massive amounts of high stakes tournaments the room hosts, including the WPT TOC. But its also because PokerGO has set up shop at the ARIA. Besides the Super High Roller Bowl, the Poker Masters, and the taped episodes of Poker After Dark, a new event is on the horizon for PokerGO and the Aria. Next week, the inaugural US Poker Open takes place, with an 8-event schedule running Feb 1 - 11. Besides a decent amount of No-Limit Hold'em events, the schedule also features a $10,000 Omaha tournament and a $25,000 Mixed Game Championship.

Through an email exchange, we talked to Sam Simmons, Vice President of Content at Poker Central.

What can we expect from the US Poker Open?
The US Poker Open is special as it brings together a terrific experience for both participants and viewers alike. Players get a world-class gaming environment, a chance to demonstrate their skills at the live-streamed final tables, and enjoy the great value of no rake for timely registration.

For the fans, this is one of the few events of the year where you’re guaranteed to see star-studded final table lineups in every single event in real-time or on-demand. Watching the biggest personalities and best players clash nearly every single day for nine days of must-watch competition.

"This is one of the few events of the year where you’re guaranteed to see star-studded final table lineups in every single event."

On top of all the No Limit Hold’em action, this series adds a $10k Pot Limit Omaha final table and two days of $25,000 Mixed Game action, providing a breadth of poker entertainment that all fans will enjoy.

How and why was the decision made to introduce PLO and Mixed Games at the US Poker Open?
Like the court surface in tennis or the course style in golf, major events in individual sports include slight variations to the competition. Each variation makes the respective title different.

By adding mixed games to the US Poker Open lineup it changes the competitive dynamic from past events, like the Super High Roller Bowl and Poker Masters. It’s an opportunity to give an edge to the more well-rounded players in the game. We expect it to be very difficult for a one-trick pony to walk away as the US Poker Open Champion!

During the WSOP there was talk on social media about certain non-hold'em events not being streamed. Do you feel there are a big enough audience and player pool to warrant more attention for this kind of poker action?

Throughout this past summer, we heard many fans were in favor of bringing additional mixed games to the spotlight. Poker Central is definitely incorporating this feedback as we map out the 2018 WSOP streaming schedule and create additional events in the coming months.

These events have consistently generated strong prize pools, while attracting the most dynamic players in the game. Ultimately, we intend on delivering compelling coverage this year.

What is the likelihood that a game featuring Bobby’s Room regulars will be streamed live on PokerGO in 2018, and have you been exploring this possibility now that mixed games are on PokerGO?

"We heard many fans were in favor of bringing additional mixed games to the spotlight. Poker Central is definitely incorporating this feedback as we map out the 2018 WSOP streaming schedule"

The cash games in Bobby’s Room are truly legendary, and while we can’t give any guarantees, we hope to feature some high stakes mixed games with series regulars participating at some point in the future. As fans will come to find in the Bobby’s Room episode of Stories from the Felt on PokerGO, the stories that come out of the private games are far too incredible to believe.

What are your expectations when it comes to high profile players participating in the US Poker Open?
We’ve received several verbal commitments from some of the biggest names in poker, including Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth.

We expect a star-studded lineup rich with storylines as we’ve seen in past events like with Poker Masters. Given the addition of mixed games, we’d also expect a batch of players to join the fray that has perhaps not been seen in our previous major events that were dominated by No Limit Hold’em.

As a poker fan, I can’t wait to see what storylines unfold throughout the upcoming series.

Poker Central's Sam Simmons Talks US Poker Open 101
Sam Simmons with Maria Ho at the Tiger Jam

PokerGO's original content has given poker fans a unique look into the lives of many top players with 'Pokerography' and 'Off the Felt'. Can we expect to see more of those in-depth feature style content in 2018?

"Poker, in its purest form, is about winning money."

We can’t share many details at this time, but I can say we have several exciting projects lined up throughout 2018 that subscribers are going to absolutely love.

I will hint, however, that these programs not only provide an in-depth look at the top players, but also the events themselves. We plan on providing behind-the-scenes access to many unforgettable moments that touch on the preparation and participation of all things poker. It will give viewers an all-new appreciation for those who compete at the highest level.

Poker Central’s own Cary Katz started the year with a major victory in the Bahamas. Will we see him participate at the US Poker Open?

We couldn’t be more proud of our founder’s New Year success in the PCA $100K Super High Roller. Cary is a very humble guy who would never speak to his own position in the game. However, I’d say the work he has done doesn’t stop at revitalizing live poker entertainment, but also creates a roaring year-round high roller tournament schedule that certainly speaks for itself. I can’t guarantee that he will play the US Poker Open, but knowing the guy, I’d expect him to ride the hot hand all the way through 2018.

What can you tell me about the trophy?
Poker, in its purest form, is about winning money. To that end, the highest earner throughout the US Poker Open will be the event's inaugural champion, taking home a trophy that is designed to serve as a fitting symbol for this illustrious event.

Poker Central's Sam Simmons Talks US Poker Open 102
The US Poker Open trophy goes to the series' biggest money earner

2018 US Poker Open Schedule

February 01-02, 2018USPO #01 – $10,000 No Limit Hold'em$10,500
February 02-03, 2018USPO #02 – $10,000 Pot Limit Omaha$10,500
February 03-05, 2018USPO #03 – $25,000 No Limit Hold'em$26,000
February 05-07, 2018USPO #04 – $25,000 Mixed Game Championship$26,000
February 06-07, 2018USPO #05 – $10,000 No Limit Hold'em$11,000
February 07-08, 2018USPO #06 – $25,000 No Limit Hold'em$26,000
February 08-09, 2018USPO #07 – $25,000 No Limit Hold'em$26,000
February 09-11, 2018USPO #08 – $50,000 No Limit Hold'em Main Event$52,000
Poker Central's Sam Simmons Talks US Poker Open 103

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