Aria Is Hosting a $500k Poker Tournament and You Should Be Excited About It

Written By Steve Ruddock on March 12, 2015

The Aria Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is taking a rather unique approach to poker tournaments, foregoing the massive tournament series that culminate with a Main Event of some sort in favor of a singular, big-buy-in event.

Aria hosted two $100k buy-in event last year (one in July and another in September) that managed to pull in 30 and 22 entries respectively, and this time around their upping the stakes, as the casino’s latest effort  is a massive $500k buy-in tournament with an expected $25 million prize-pool.

This isn’t just another High-Roller event either, the Aria has come up with a unique name, the 2015 Super High Roller Poker Bowl (the winner will receive a Championship Ring), and is marketing it as a poker tournament you want to see, a destination event, not as a poker tournament you necessarily want to play in.

A $500k buy-in, with a first place prize approaching $10 million is enough to pique any poker fan’s curiosity, but Aria is taking this a step further and taking the event from mere curiosity to spectator sport – a ticket anyone would like to have.

The Contest

Aria and Poker Central have teamed up to create a prize package for the tournament, but it’s not your typical “win a seat” prize-package, this is a win a trip to see the final table package.

“You are invited to enter to win the ultimate high roller vacation for you and a friend at ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. Welcome to VIP status. The hotel, the flights, the front row seats to the final table, and $5,000 cash to help you Get Lucky™. They’re all on us.”

The complete contest rules can be found here.

Foregoing the Tournament Series

Another key, is this is not a high-roller tournament that is part of a larger tournament series; this is a standalone event.

The $500k tournament will take place from July 2nd through the 4th, and will be preceded by the Super High Roller Cash Game on June 30th and July 1st, and a Celebrity High Roller Shootout June 27th and 28th.

This not only focuses the spotlight on the stakes and the big name players that will be in attendance, it also is eliminates the need for the casino to set aside a large area to accommodate thousands of players and their rails.

Why Aria Can Pull It Off

Not only has the Aria proven than can host a successful standalone high-roller tournament, but I’ve visited many poker rooms across the globe and I can tell you that the Aria is not only one of my favorites, it’s also one of the best run and has a terrific atmosphere.

The entire staff is top notch; both friendly, accommodating, and knowledgeable. They have rules but they are also able to use common sense and judgment when needed. And it’s these qualities that have allowed Aria to build up so much goodwill among professional poker players.

For all these reasons  the Aria is simply the right place for such an event, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that the website already lists 33 entrants, and it’s essentially a who’s who in poker. A testament to the goodwill and standing the Aria poker room has built up within the poker community.

Aria is also marketing the entrants, with a website showing the entire list of entrants (including pictures and biographies for each), which currently includes Phil Hellmuth, Tom Dwan, Daniel Cates, Doug Polk, Antonio Esfandiari, and Phil Ivey.

How Big Could It Get?

The event is still several months away, and since the tournament will occur during the World Series of Poker (which doesn’t have a $1,000,000 buy-in Big One for One Drop tournament on the schedule this year) I expect the number of entrants to continue to rise.

To reach their estimated prize-pool they would need 50 players, a number I think they can achieve. However, if they can accomplish what One Drop did in 2012, and attract a number of rich businessmen, we might see a lot of tournament specialists selling action to try to grab a seat at one of the tables.

If that occurs, the number of entrants could easily eclipse 50.

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Steve Ruddock

Steve Ruddock is a longtime member of the online gambling industry. He covers the regulated US online casino and poker industries for variety of publications, including,,, and USA Today.

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