Massive Online Guarantees, New Poker Rooms and Job Losses

Job cuts, a $100million GTD online WPT series, as well as new poker rooms and Covid-friendly 8-player tables in Vegas make for a mixed bag as far as industry headlines go this week.

By: Andrew Burnett

WPT and partypoker riding the online wave

Let’s kick off with the positive stuff, and among those are the $100million GTD WPT World Online Championships – playing out on partypoker as we speak.

The massive guarantees have been built on the back of a hugely successful WPT Online series, again in partnership with the red diamond site.

That saw $8million above the $44million guarantees handed out in prizes, WPT CEO Adam Pliska telling PokerNews: "Certainly, to the degree of guarantees and the support behind it, I think everyone's quite happy at least on our side."

With the WSOP running on WSOP.com and GGPoker.com, as well as PokerStars’ Stadium Series, fans of the online game aren’t exactly short of options this summer.

How the big sites and series will transition back to predominantly live events is still unclear. For the WPT, that includes three, as yet unfinished, final tables.

Pliska explained: "In the next couple of weeks, we will reassess. We will find a solution. We're hoping within this time, travel restrictions and a better sense of how the virus is being contained, we'll be in a better position."

New tables and new looks in Vegas

The SAHARA Las Vegas has re-opened its ‘brand-new’ poker room, offering up seven-handed poker across seven tables, with various games spread as well as 24/7 food and multiple TV screens.

The hotel and casino suffered from some very unfortunate timing, its initial poker room opening in February soon kiboshed by the Covid-19 closures.

Now, with Nevada opening up in stages and casinos among them, the Sahara, formerly known as the SLS but recently returning to its original name, can join in the fun.

Under the control of Poker Operations Manager Steven Pique, the cardroom will offer NLHE, LHE, PLO, 7-card Stud and various mix games.

8-player Plexiglass tables at the Venetian

When talk of reopening poker rooms was first mooted, the idea of 4 player maximum thrilled almost nobody.

However, that number was soon bumped up to 5, and Vegas’ cardrooms have been doing their best to sneak in extra seats whenever possible.

First the Bellagio made it up to six, and the Sahara as we mention above have managed seven - but the Venetian have already begun converting their 32 tables to eight-handed play, with plexiglass dividers.

Jobs to go in Eldorado and Caesars merger

The $17.3 billion merger between two giants of the US gaming market will result in job losses, according to the man at the helm of the Eldorado/Caesars combo.

Chief Financial Officer Bret Yunker stated: “Reducing the size of a workforce is always challenging to go through. We commit to do that as compassionately and transparently as possible.”

The new company will retain the Caesars name, former Eldorado CFO Yunker stating: “Caesars is the iconic brand in gaming. There’s a reason why we’re changing our name, because you can’t find a better name in gaming.”

However, with Caesars employing some 30,000 people in Las Vegas and 65,000 worldwide, as well as Eldorado having some 18,000 employees, the future for some is uncertain.

“We remain focused on creating substantial synergies as we bring together these two companies. That will, unfortunately, result in some job reductions.”

Thousands of casino jobs around the globe have already been lost to the impact of Covid-19, and Yunker has already indicated it is likely one Vegas casino will be sold in the merger.

Billionaire investor Carl Icahn is now the largest single shareholder of the company, owning more than 10% of the new Caesars, according to the Las Vegas Sun.

TonyBet Poker join the great poker rooms in the sky

To round off the week’s biggest industry news, online poker room TonyBet Poker have ceased operations.

Launched in 2009  by the famous poker pro-turned politician, Antanas 'TonyG' Guoga, TonyBet – once known as OmniBet - operated out of Estonia and expanded into several markets.

The online room focused on Open-Face Chinese Poker, sponsoring the first-ever World Championship in the game in 2014, with Jason Mercier, Sorel Mizzi and highroller OFC world champ Jennifer Shahade taking part.

The reason for TonyBet Poker’s sudden closure has not been announced, its sportsbetting and casino arms still active, but it joins several online rooms that have ceased operations in recent months.

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