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BetMGM Poker Championship Blasts Past Guarantee for New Record

Home » News » BetMGM Poker Championship Blasts Past Guarantee for New Record

BetMGM Poker Championship Blasts Past Guarantee for New Record

The poker summer at Aria Casino on the Las Vegas Strip kicked off on May 29. Poker players were more than ready, showing up to crush the guarantees and compete for sizable prize pools. That first week of poker was a sign of things to come, as the first wave of BetMGM Poker tournaments showed that same enthusiasm from the first of those premier events.

Aria Rolls Out Casino Carpet for Poker

It’s no secret that poker players love Aria’s poker room. And Aria loves poker players, so to prepare for the 2024 Aria Poker Classic series, poker took over a good portion of the casino floor. Slots? What slots?

The first event on the full Aria Poker Classic 45-event schedule was a $800 Pot Limit Omaha Mystery Bounty with a $150,000 guarantee. With 274 entries, the full prize pool soared to $191,800, with more than half of that going toward the general prize pool and $75,720 of it put into bounty envelopes.

Ultimately, Ike Nlemchi of Texas won that tournament for $45,562 in prize money and bounties.

Players continued to compete in the daily events, many anticipating the arrival of the featured tournaments sponsored by BetMGM Poker. 

BetMGM Poker Mystery Bounty Fills the Tables

The first of the BetMGM Poker wave of events amidst the Aria Poker Classic was the $1,100 buy-in No Limit Hold’em Mystery Bounty tournament. It offered a $500,000 guarantee. While nearly 200 players qualified via BetMGM Poker Championship online satellites, the Aria poker room hosted more satellites to award discounted seats.

When registration closed and the tournament staff tallied the numbers, the results were impressive.

  • Total entries:  887
  • Total prize pool:  $860,390
  • Paid players:  110
  • Minimum payout:  $922
  • First-place prize:  $91,886

The portion of the prize pool dedicated to bounties was large enough to create two top bounties, each worth $50,000, instead of the one $50,000 bounty that was promised.

The money bubble burst midway through the evening hours, and bounty pulls were a part of the excitement as well. Rickey McCray Jr. pulled a $50,000 bounty, and Justin Vaysman and Antonio Ruelas grabbed $25,000 bounties. 

Play continued through the night and into the early morning hours. Live reporters took a sleep break with 20 players remaining, but the players themselves did not want to stop. They played on until there were only three of them holding chips, and those three agreed to a chop. 

As sometimes works with a chop, especially when bounties are in play, the second-place finisher, Daniel Moran, took home the lion’s share of the remaining prize pool, as he had pulled the other $50,000 bounty in addition to other smaller ones. In all, he claimed $129,972 in prize money, but it was Lukas Zaskodny of the Czech Republic who won the title, trophy, and first-place prize money of $68,052 plus $45,060 in bounties.

BetMGM Championship Sets New Record

Some call it the BetMGM Main Event; others call it by its given name, the BetMGM Poker Championship No Limit Hold’em tournament. It kicked off on June 7 and 8, the two starting flights bringing in a record number of entries. 

  • Buy-in:  $3,500
  • Guarantee:  $3,000,000
  • Total entries:  1,141 (470 from Day 1A and 671 from Day 1B)
  • Total prize pool:  $3,651,200

These numbers blew past the 1,026 entries and $3,283,200 prize pool from the 2023 BetMGM Poker Championship, setting a new record for this event. And the 2024 BetMGM Poker Championship numbers certainly left the $3,000,000 guarantee in the dust.

The impressive overall field included some of the biggest names in the game today. Chance Kornuth, Faraz Jaka, and BetMGM Poker Ambassador Darren Elias (who had recently shared his BetMGM Poker Championship preview) were just some of the familiar faces at the tables. Others included Caitlin Comeskey, Shannon Shorr, Ebony Kenney, Maria Ho, Xuan Liu, Justin Bonomo, Joseph Cheong, Kristen Foxen, and Victoria Livschitz did the same on Day 1B. Even Tom Choi and pup Lucky Archie were in the mix, showing off their best poker faces.

Tom Choi and Lucky Archie

They all sat alongside hundreds of online qualifiers and live-event satellite winners to compete for the first-place prize of $613,914.

Ever Closer to the Final Table

When the tournament staff tallied the last of the chip bags from the starting flights, they saw that 311 players were set to return for Day 2 on Sunday, June 9. Considering only 143 players would make it into the money, the tension was high.

Ultimately, that money bubble burst when Michel Molenaar cracked kings with his Q-9 of clubs and the rivered flush. Day 2 eventually ended with just 37 players putting their chips in bags. 

Daniel Moar held a solid chip lead, but notables like Shannon Shorr, Joseph Cheong, Andrew Moreno, Eric Baldwin, and Ethan “Rampage” Yau were among the survivors of Day 2 and no strangers to final tables. 

Ethan ‘Rampage’ Yau

Keep updated as to the happenings at the BetMGM Poker Championship with reporting from the PokerOrg Aria Poker Classic instant action crew. And tune in tonight (6:00 pm PST) for the playdown to the final table and then tomorrow for the final table action on PokerGO, as all of the remaining tables are set up in the PokerGO Studio, adjacent to Aria on the Las Vegas Strip.

To play online with BetMGM Poker or to learn more about the Championship, register here.