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Venetian Cancels $1.1M Worth of PokerGO Stairway to Millions GTDs Day Before Tournament

Venetian Stairway to Millions

With two tournaments totaling $1.1 million in promised guarantees remaining in the PokerGO Stairway to Millions series at Venetian in Las Vegas, the card room has pulled the plug on both events.

On Sunday, there was expected to be a $25,500 buy-in tournament with $500,000 guaranteed. Those who reached the money would then receive a ticket into Monday's $51,000 buy-in event, which was to have $600,000 minimum in the pot. Both have been called off despite a few players having won free entries into the Sunday tournament, presumably due to expected overlays.

PokerNews confirmed with Venetian that the two events would not run. A further request for comment went unanswered as of the time of publication.

Many poker players on social media ripped the Las Vegas Strip card room for canceling the tournaments in the middle of the series. The first eight events of the series all surpassed the guarantees. On Friday, however, the $10,400 buy-in tournament ($400 in fees) had just 18 players, meaning the $200,000 guarantee fell $20,000 short. There was $30,000 in overlay — the equivalent of two players — on Saturday in the $15,500 tournament ($300,000 guarantee).

After finishing live updates for Saturday's event, PokerGO simply wrote: "The Stairway To Millions originally had 12 events on the schedule, but due to decisions made by The Venetian Resort Poker Room, the final two events were canceled."

Strange Finish to the Series

The Stairway to Millions series, a PokerGO Tour event, has a unique format in that every player who cashes automatically advances to the following step. Play was supposed to wrap on Monday with the $50k event.

Paul Zappulla defeated Stephen Song heads-up to win Event #10 for $124,500, which turned out to be the final tournament of the series, however.

Adam Hendrix, who finished runner-up in Event #9 for $37,050, earned a seat into what turned out to be the series finale. During play, he was informed that the guarantees for the final two events, which would inevitably be canceled altogether, would be removed.

Hendrix then tweeted that he was offered cash for the seat he'd won, but he wrote that "canceling a guarantee to a tournament you won a satellite into already is unacceptable."

Those sentiments were echoed by many other poker players.

"Venetian is horrible for poker and this isn’t their first time doing something like this yet all of you degenerates still go there to play," @nogoodlogan responded.

"There won't even be a 50k hopefully lesson learned and they just stop running PGT stuff there," Dan Colpoys tweeted.

Chance Kornuth Wins Third Stairway to Millions Title; Wang Misses Fourth

Not the First Time, Won't Be the Last

Most tournament regulars consider canceling a guaranteed event in the middle of a series bad form. In total, the series promised at least $2.15 million in prize money to be awarded over 12 events. But the unique event finished up after just 10 tournaments, leaving $1.1 million in guarantees on the table.

This isn't the first time in recent months in which a similar unfortunate outcome occurred. At Hustler Casino in Los Angeles this past summer, multiple remaining Day 1 flights were canceled in the middle of a $250,000 guaranteed tournament and the prize pool readjusted after the poker room determined it was unlikely the guarantee would be met.

While these situations are unfortunate and bothersome to those who play tournaments, don't count on this being the last time an operator pulls the plug on an event when it becomes obvious there will be some overlay. On the contrary, there are many more examples in which the poker room facing a massive overlay just accepts the loss and doesn't cancel the tournament. Take, for example, The Lodge Card Club in Texas, which had to eat over $300,000 in overlay during its May Lodge Championship Series Main Event, a $2 million guaranteed tournament.

Final Stairway to Millions Results

Paul Zappulla
Paul Zappulla was the final winner of the PokerGO Stairway to Millions at Venetian.
 Thursday, September 8Event #1: $460 NLH $25K GTD93$37,200Francis Anderson$6,702
 Friday, September 9Event #2: $460 NLH $25K GTD94$37,600John Yelaney$6,417
 Saturday, September 10Event #3: $900 NLH $50K GTD82$65,600Arsh Grover$12,510
 Sunday, September 11Event #4: $900 NLH $50K GTD74$59,200Samy Dighlawi$11,330
 Monday, September 12Event #5: $1,640 No-Limit Hold'em73$109,500Michael Wang$22,986
 Tuesday, September 13Event #6: $1,640 No-Limit Hold'em75$112,500Michael Wang$22,458
 Wednesday, September 14Event #7: $2,740 NL Hold’em ($100,000 GTD)92$230,000Chance Kornuth$45,373
 Thursday, September 15Event #8: $5,350 NL Hold’em ($100,000 GTD)42$210,000Andre Butler$60,945
 Thursday, September 16Event #9: $10,400 NL Hold’em ($200,000 GTD)18$200,000Michael Rocco$61,750
 Thursday, September 17Event #10: $15,800 NL Hold’em ($300,000 GTD)18$300,000Paul Zappulla$124,500

Photos courtesy PokerGO

  • Find out why @VenetianPoker canceled two @PokerGO Stairway to Millions events last minute.

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Senior Editor U.S.

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