The first-ever live poker tournament under the BetMGM Poker brand ended Sunday with an exciting hand down the stretch but also exceeded the operator’s expectations, fueling speculation that a long-rumored launch of BetMGM Poker NV could be forthcoming.
A total of 343 players ultimately participated in the inaugural BetMGM Poker Championship, which ran from June 23 to June 26. More than 100 players joined the series on Day Two, pushing the tournament’s $1 million guarantee to $1,097,600. The top 44 finishers were all in the money.
The series headlined the ARIA Poker Classic, a 47-event series that began on June 1 and will conclude on July 17.
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Royal Flush Helps Lead Weissman to Victory
Joey Weissman went down to the wire to win the series held at the ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. The poker pro from Syosset, NY, scored three final table knockouts, including a royal flush, on his way to winning a total of $224,236.
Paul Hoefer of Germany was second with $159,152 in winnings and was the only player from outside the US to make it to the final table of six players. Noel Rodriguez of California received a payout of $104,272 for third.
Benji Felson, an online qualifier from New Jersey, finished in fifth place. BetMGM said the New Jersey resident was able to turn “a $500 online tournament into a Las Vegas poker package before securing a spot at the final table.” Felson ultimately took home a $51,587 payout.
At the end of Day One of the series on Thursday, there were still 90 players out of 210 entrants alive, including BetMGM Poker ambassador Darren Elias and a field of 32 qualifiers. According to the operator, the average chip stack at the end of Day One was 106,000.
Twenty-six players, including four qualifiers, were still in the tournament after Day Two. The chip stack average hit 659,615 at the time. The final six players from Day Three action on Saturday made it to Sunday’s final table.
With the win, Weissman moves up to 372nd place on the all-time money list, with more than $4.3 million in total live earnings.
Most Qualifiers Were Eliminated By Day Two
For BetMGM Poker, the series was only its second opportunity for a large-scale online satellite campaign across Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania — the other states where it offers online poker (for now). Its first campaign supported March Poker Mania, a series held in those three states in March.
Six players from Pennsylvania were among the top 10 qualified chip leaders at the end of Day One of the series, while three from Michigan and one from New Jersey also made the cut. At the end of Day Two, only four qualifiers — two players from Michigan and two from New Jersey — were left, including Felson.
BetMGM is believed to be preparing to launch its online poker platform in Nevada in the near future. State regulators extended the interactive gaming service provider license of Entain, one of BetMGM’s parent companies, for three years in May 2021. BetMGM was also recently looking to hire a Senior Manager of Poker Marketing based in Las Vegas.
The operator would also benefit from launching in Nevada as it is one of only four states to sign the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA), along with Delaware, Michigan, and New Jersey. A launch of BetMGM Poker NV would allow it to take advantage of shared liquidity and increase its competition against the WSOP/888 Network.