Sheldon Adelson does not run day-to-day operations at the Venetian Poker Room in Las Vegas. But because he is the CEO and founder of Sands Corporation, the company that owns the Strip casino, and because of his crusade against online gambling, he takes some warmth from the gambling world over a controversial poker tournament.
Adelson, a staunch conservative political lobbyist, has fought long and hard to prevent Americans from legally gambling online. He is partly responsible for the limited online poker activity in the United States.
The casino tycoon uses its wealth as a power tool to convince Republican politicians to back up laws against online gambling. He believes online gambling is damaging his bottom line, which may seem a bit strange to a man worth around $ 35 billion, according to Forbes magazine.
What is this poker tournament about?
Venetian Poker Room is hosting a 250 $ buy-in poker tournament with a guaranteed prize pool of 150,000 $ starting on October 21st. This can seem like a great opportunity to win a large sum of cash for such a small buy-in. Most tournaments with such a large prize pool cost more.
There is only one problem - the maximum guarantee of the tournament is 150,000 $. So, if the prize pool reaches 300,000 $, which can be very likely, the casino will take the remaining balance.
This is different from most poker tournaments that offer guarantees. In most cases, if the total buy-in cost exceeds the guarantee, money is still added to the prize pool.
For the upcoming Venetian tournament, the casino will accept all the extra money.
Why is this such a big deal?
Venetian does not break any laws or violate Nevada gambling laws by hosting the poker tournament mentioned. And it is true that poker players are not forced to play. If they don't want any part of the tournament, they can choose to move their business elsewhere.
But as poker superstar Doug Polk said in a recent YouTube video, this tournament is a bad precedent for the poker industry. If all goes well and the Venetian makes money from the event, according to Polk, they will likely continue to organize similar tournaments. Perhaps other casinos will see the plan and do the same.
As Polk said on YouTube, the Venetian is likely to far exceed the warranty. They know what they are doing. Venetian has one of the best poker rooms in the world.
The controversial tournament features six flights starting on Day One, starting October 21, with one each day until October 25. If there are only 100 participants in each session, Venetian will win the tournament. But considering how popular their guaranteed tournaments are and how tempting the event is, the poker room will likely have 150 or more players per session, meaning they will pick up 75,000 $ or more beyond the 150,000 $ guarantee.
Polk calls for a boycott
Doug Polk asked his followers to boycott the tournament in hopes the casino would not have a successful event. But it is unlikely that his efforts will do much good.
Polk has a huge fan base with over 200,000 YouTube subscribers. But most of all, it attracts die-hard poker fans. The controversial Venetian tournament is aimed at recreational players, and many of them do not follow Twitter Poker or the Polka YouTube channel.
It is unlikely that recreational players will realize what they are getting into as the Venetian poker room only advertises the guarantee limit in fine print. So, they will only see a tournament with a guaranteed prize pool of 150,000 $ for only 250 $ and will think they are of great value.
What does Sheldon Adelson have to do with everything?
The chances of Sheldon Adelson even becoming aware of a dubious poker tournament are slim and none. He does not participate in the daily operations of his poker room.
So technically it has nothing to do with this tournament. But that didn't stop some members of the poker community from using it as an opportunity to take down the Republican mega-donor.
Adelson has been fighting for many years to prevent Americans from gambling online. Since the Black Friday scandal in 2011 that forced top poker sites to leave the United States, it has pushed through internet poker laws at the federal level. And despite his age and wealth - he is 86 years old - it seems he will continue this fight until his death.