Katz Among Winners in Aria High Roller Return

Katz Among Winners in Aria High Roller Return

High-stakes poker tournaments returned to Aria on the Las Vegas Strip last weekend. It wasn’t easy, as health protocols to protect players and tournament staff from Covid-19 requires many changes and hassles. The poker room had been open for several months, but the tournaments were deemed too risky until this year.

Aria had to cancel scheduled high-stakes poker tournaments in December 2020 while the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic raged forward. Those were to be the comeback events at Aria, but the staff ultimately determined that it was best to postpone. Meanwhile, the Wynn’s poker room hosted some high-stakes action in December.

A few weeks ago, Aria rescheduled its tournaments for January 28-30.

Tournaments with Caveats

There were more rules than usual for the three tournaments scheduled for the last weekend in January (Thursday through Saturday, actually).

Most of the new rules came from the casino operator, which mandated masks and physical distancing. The poker room constructed plexiglass barriers between player seats, among other employee mandates like temperature checks, face shields, and required sanitization practices.

Other details of the tournaments remained typical of or similar to previous High Roller events at Aria. Players who registered on time paid no rake, with late registrants and reentries paying $500 in fees each. There was a 30-second shot clock with time extensions for each player.

The buy-ins were $10K each. Late registration remained open through the first six levels, each lasting 40 minutes.

Wins and Cashes

For typical High Roller tournaments, the attendance wasn’t exactly outstanding. However, there isn’t exactly a roadmap for resuming poker tournaments after a pandemic.

The first of the three events brought in 34 entries, including reentries. The prize pool of $340K was enough to pay the top five players in the end. And those players were:

-1st place: Dan Smith ($136,000)

-2nd place: Alex Foxen ($88,400)

-3rd place: Ali Imsirovic ($54,400)

-4th place: Sean Winter ($34,400)

-5th place: Jake Daniels ($27,200)

As Poker Central noted, that win for Smith put him over $36.8 million in lifetime earnings in live poker tournaments.

On Friday, a smaller crowd gathered to participate, resulting in only 22 entries. That put together a $220K prize pool to delegate to the top four finishers. The results:

-1st place: Cary Katz ($82,800)

-2nd place: Sean Winter ($80,000)

-3rd place: Jake Daniels ($35,200)

-4th place: Brock Wilson ($22,000)

Katz, who founded and is an owner of Poker Central, made a two-way deal with Winter for the top payouts.

On Saturday, some familiar faces returned to the Aria for some high-stakes action. That event had 21 entries and a $210K prize pool. The three payouts went to:

-1st place: Christopher Brewer ($113,400)

-2nd place: Ali Imsirovic ($63,000)

-3rd place: Brock Wilson ($33,600)

There is no official word yet as to when the next High Roller action will take place.



About Jennifer Newell

Jennifer began writing about poker while working at the World Poker Tour in the mid-2000s. Since then, her freelance writing career has taken her from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and back to her hometown of St. Louis, where she now lives with her two dogs. She continues to follow the poker world as she also launches a new subscription box company and finishes her first novel. Jennifer has written for numerous publications including PokerStars.com and has followed the US poker and gaming market closely for the last 15 years. Follow Jen on Twitter

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