The Venetian Macao Resort Hotel Macao

Mixed Takeaway on Controversial Venetian Poker Tournament

The turnout numbers are in on the controversial “Lucky Shot” $150,000 capped prize-pool poker tournament at the Venetian, wherein Venetian management decided to see how stupid poker players really by pushing out a tourney where no many how players entered, any money taken in over the $150,000 advertised prize pool then went solely to the Venetian.

As Flushdraw contributor Dan Katz explained last month, the structure was “unnecessarily sneaky”. If anything, that was too polite. I’d have called it yet another Venetian con job, in this case tailored to exactly two types of poker players –  those who were too naive or jaded or lazy to learn that the $150,000 advertised bigly wasn’t a prize-pool guarantee in the traditional sense. The Venetian banked on poker players’ gullibility, with the safety net being poker players’ greed.

VenetianThat’s essentially how it played out. The tourney offered six starting flights over four days, last Thursday through Sunday. It needed to draw 600 entries at $250 each to reach the $150,000 in revenue, and if it reached just that, it would have been a rake-free event with, technically, zero overlay.

I really had little doubt that the event would get those 600 entries and then some, and it finished with 645 players, generating $172,500 in total revenue. The Venetian thus received the $22,500 overage, meaning that it earned the rough equivalent of 15% rake for running the show.

How the event got to 645 runners, though, was part of the story. The first two flights on Thursday and Friday drew only a combined 73 entries, an extreme skew explained only by the reality of this concept being an attempted skim of the gullible, in poker terms. The casino likely hoped that few people learned about the con, but the word got out. That, though, led to the second part of the equation, that being the bumhunters who pounced on Sunday, buying in during the final open levels to take part in a tourney that offered at least a little bit lowered effective rake, if not an actual overlay.

But wait, there’s more! Due to the fact that the event was also wrapped into a promotion in which another $75,000 was given away to players who participated in this and several otherLucky Shot events, the casino appears to have registered a small loss over the entire mini-series. For each $250 in cumulative Lucky Shot event entries, a player received a ticket toward that drawing. Yet attendance for the other Lucky Shot events was very low. The Venetian Poker Room’s blog posted an update before the drawing, stating that “516 players earned 710 drawing tickets.”

We know that 645 of those drawing tickets came from entries in the $150,000 capped event, which means that only 65 drawing tickets came from the other events. There was considerable overage in terms of entries paid that didn’t generate drawing tickets, since the other events featured buy-ins that didn’t multiply upward evenly to $250. Still, the numbers for the other events were so low that there’s no way the Venetian could have made up the difference, even given some rake from those other events’ entries.

The Venetian lost $25,000 or $30,000 on this Lucky Shot series and capped-pool concept when all these things are considered. They also earned a ton of bad press, though in poker terms, for this venue, that’s really nothing new. Still, the poker world can reasonably hope that this will be evaluated as a failed concept, and that poker players, overall, aren’t quite as naive as the Venetian might have hoped.

That’ll be a good thing.


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