Binion’s Poker Open Drops Tourney Guarantees

The historic Binion’s poker room in Las Vegas has earned itself a bit of cheesy footnote this week, by quietly announcing that it’s dropping the guarantees for all events in its ongoing 2015 Binion’s Poker Open, being held at the Binion’s Gambling Hall in downtown Las Vegas.

Binion's Las VegasThe 2015 Binion’s Poker Open started on September 8th and continues on through October 4th, not that a lot of people have noticed.  And that’s essentially the problem: Given that most of the preliminary events carried paltry $10,000 pre-event guarantees, the fact that Binion’s is pulling the rug out from under the series is a sad moment for this once-glorious downtown Vegas room.

Here’s the brief notice that Binion’s Gambling Hall published about the guarantees being pulled, with the exception of the three-day series finale, being run in conjunction with the tiny PPC (Players Poker Championship) series:

Due to VERY LOW attendance, we have elected to cancel the guarantee on our Binion’s Poker Open Events with the following exceptions:

Saturday, September 26th $200 NLH will have a $10,000 GUARANTEE

The $50,000 GUARANTEE PPC Poker Tour Event will run as scheduled.

We will continue to run all other scheduled events, just without any monetary guarantee.

We apologize for any inconvenience and I would like to personally thank everyone who has played in our Binion’s Poker Open. (Paul)

“Very low attendance” indeed, and it’s hard to find out exactly how many people have participated in the early events, since results don’t seem to be available anywhere.  However, when one considers that each of the series’ events has at least a $200 minimum buy-in, that means that the $10,000 prize pool guarantee is technically covered if Binion’s fills a whoppin’ five 10-player tables.

Toss in the fact that the first three events in the series were weekend events, featuring a basic no-limit hold’em format that should draw more entrants than any other, and what you have here is a massive promotional fail, perhaps even utter corporate incompetence.

Yes, there are plenty of poker options in Las Vegas, but if you can’t fill a five-player tourney in Vegas on a weekend when the tourney itself has only a $200 buy-in, it says here you have no business running poker tournaments.

Other than for the series flyer, which appears online on the “Binion’s Hall of Fame Poker Room” Facebook site and literally nowhere else, except maybe in printed form at the check-in desk in Binion’s poker room, you wouldn’t know the series exists.  This… ummm… might just be a clue to the core problem.

I checked CardPlayer’s tournament pages, looking for information on the series.  CardPlayer isn’t much for reporting of real poker news, but as a listing site for ongoing poker events in the US, it’s not bad.  However, there was nothing about the Binion’s Poker Open at CP.

Ditto over at the resurrected All-In Magazine, which might not be as comprehensive a listing source as CP but might have other reasons to care.  After all, All-In is the title sponsor of the PPC Poker Tour, which is running that $50,ooo series finale at Binion’s in early October.  But no, nothing at All-In either, nor on any other poker-information site, as far as I can tell.

“What we have here,” to steal a classic movie line, “is a failure to communicate.”  In this case the utter failure is Binion’s, and that’s a really sad state of affairs.  Yes, we get that these days Binion’s is pretty much a locals casino, owned and operated since 2008 by TLC Casino Enterprises, which also owns the Four Queens across the street.  Binion’s, though, has received damned little of that TLC in the year’s since Harrah’s sold the property.  TLC closed the hotel part of the operation — visitors are now redirected to the larger Four Queens hotel across the way — and there are no plans to renovate the hotel portion of Binion’s due to the expected costs of asbestos removal.

It’s still very sad to see the former site of the World Series of Poker reduced to such a paltry state of affairs.  Binion’s probably won’t… can’t… suffer too much of a financial hit for yanking the guarantees, and the flyers do include a disclaimer allowing the casino to change tourney specifics at any time.  That’ll save the casino the sort of disaster that killed the France-based Partouche Poker Tour back in 2012, when the tour’s organizers attempted to renege on a promised €5m guarantee.

Poker rooms and sites and tourneys all come and go, it seems.  It’s a small, sad moment for Binion’s nonetheless.


Leave a Comment


2 Responses

  1. Chainsaw

    I would just like to point out that you are wrong about them only needing 5 tables. Rake. Only $165 goes to the prize pool so it takes more than 5 tables.

    1. Well, sorry, Allen, but no. The house has no entitlement to any operational profit (a/k/a “rake”) until all guarantees are met. So five tables in this case covers the amount of gross entry fees paid, even if they might need six or six-and-and-half tables of players to generate a “normal” profit.


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