Overlay controversy at the Gardens Poker Classic

The poker world is not impressed with a decision to reschedule and add more Day 1s to a tournament missing a seven-figure guarantee.

The Gardens Casino
The Gardens Casino

The second event in a festival at the Gardens Casino in Los Angeles had a $565 buy-in and a $1 million guarantee, with Day 1 flights between September 16 to 22. 

Those flights were not enough to meet the lofty prize pool, so much to the frustration of the poker world, the casino cancelled several further events, added more Day 1 flights and changed the end date of the tournament from last Sunday to tonight, in an attempt to reduce the overlay.

Although the festival's webpage stipulated they were within their rights to change the schedule and cancel any promotions, this is very much a cardinal sin in the poker community. 

Garden Casino Poker scandal
The update on the casino's website

The expectation among players is that if a guarantee is not met, the casino makes up the shortfall. The word 'guarantee' is very much a marketing tool, because it sends the message that the tournament is either going to have a big prize pool or, even better, a big prize pool without a huge field to navigate through. 

With a buy-in of $565 it is also likely that a lot of the players attending the previous Day 1s were recreational players who would struggle to make the additional days added to the schedule because of work commitments. 

Poker has sadly had its fair share of instances of operators reneging on guarantees or putting in casino regulars in on freerolls with an agreement to split any winnings. Adding additional Day 1s is less common and changing the end date of the tournament to accommodate more flights is almost unheard of. 

Have you ever been involved in a tournament reneging on its guarantee? Share your story in the comments:

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Comments (2)

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  • tmannie


    i presume the Florida hurricane had something to do with this situation, and being exceptional circumstances i think the casino can be forgiven a bit
  • BarryCarter


    #1 - it's 2,500 miles away and a 6 hour flight. No doubt there will have been Floridians going and I'm sure it disrupted travel a bit, but not that much. Having spoke to plenty of tourney organisers before, they all say one of the keys to getting a big field is ensuring that the locals of that casino make up a massive chunk of it.