Gardens Casino May Not Fully Understand What Guaranteed Means

Written By Jessica Welman on October 1, 2017
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[toc]Had someone told The Gardens Casino the attention of the poker world would be on their latest tournament before the event, they probably would have been thrilled.

Unfortunately, the California casino ended up in the spotlight for something far from positive. Several notable poker pros in California actually called for a boycott of the LA-area card room.

Gardens Casino adds flights to $1 million event

The Gardens Casino Poker Classic was a $1 million guaranteed poker tournament. It also boasted a partnership with Poker Night In America (PNIA). The show agreed to come to California to film both cash game action and the event’s final table.

The $565 buy-in tournament initially featured 14 flights over the course of a week. Then there would be a single Day 2, with the Day 3 final table running on Sunday, Sept. 24.

On Friday, Sept. 21, the penultimate day of Day 1 flights, the casino announced it was adding five more flights to the event. Now there was a third flight Friday night, followed by two more on both Saturday and Sunday.

Considering the property was well short of the guarantee at the time of the announcement, it did not go over well with players.

Poker names go to battle on Twitter

While Gardens legally reserved the right to alter the tournament however it sees fit, players decried it as a bad decision from a customer service perspective.

Tour Director for World Poker Tour (WPT) Matt Savage Tweeted several comments about the change. Savage since deleted some Tweets, which questioned PNIA’s role in the decision. Even still, he remained steadfast that it was a bad idea.

Savage references Matt Glantz, who is a poker pro who works closely with PNIA. While the decision was up to Gardens, Glantz nonetheless posted a comment via Tweet:

Several notable California players Tweeted as well, encouraging others to boycott these extra flights. That group included:

  • Matt Glantz
  • Nipun Java
  • Allen Kessler
  • Jared Griener

The boycotts arguably had some effect. Even with the extra flights, the tournament ended up with 1,981 entries. As a result, the casino still had to put up some overlay, but it only amounted to around $10,000.

Winner Thomas Zanot was one of casino’s biggest critics

When news broke about the added flights, Thomas Zanot was cruising with a big stack through his starting flight at Gardens. In between hands, he found time to criticize the decision:

Zanot also retweeted dozens of other negative Gardens Casino Tweets en route to bagging the end of flight chip lead. He cruised through Day 2 and Day 3 as well. The poker player ended up making a deal at the final table.

Zanot and the runner-up agreed to the chop. Zanot ended up with just over $160,000 and the trophy.

After the tournament, he acknowledged the humor in his victory in a tournament he publicly talked so negatively about.

While the casino escaped a hefty amount of overlay, it will be interesting to keep an eye on how its big-field, multi-flight tournaments do in the future.

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Jessica Welman

A graduate of USC and Indiana University, Jessica Welman has long been involved in the poker industry. She has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and as the managing editor for

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