BetMGM Poker Championship at Aria Crowns Champion

Written By Marc Meltzer on June 16, 2023
poker chips in a stack beside the betmgm poker championship at aria logo

The BetMGM Poker Championship at Aria just concluded. The final table for the tournament was live-streamed from the PokerGo studio just outside of the Las Vegas casino.

Leo Taffe from Michigan is taking home the top prize of $560,442 for winning the four-day poker tournament. The buy-in for the no-limit Hold ‘em tournament was $3,500.

Taffe is a 24-year-old online poker player from Ann Arbor, Michigan. His victory in Las Vegas dwarfed his previous biggest single-tournament win of $182,000.

“It feels amazing,” said Taffe. “To be able to run deep in a tournament like this is really cool. I’m exhausted, to be honest. It’s just starting to settle in. I’ll take a few hours to celebrate, but there is more I want to accomplish.”

Mike Vanier finished second, losing to Taffe in heads-up play. His second-place finish was good for a prize of $392,704.

Global Poker Index’s Player of the Year Stephen Song finished in fourth place and won $188,193. Former Major League Baseball player Jason Kipnis finished in 107th place and took home $6,534.

Massive growth for BetMGM Poker Championship

This was the second year for the BetMGM Poker Championship. Participation in the event nearly tripled from last year.

There were 1,026 players in the tournament this year. That includes 110 BetMGM online qualifiers. Last year’s event had 343 entries and a $1.1 million prize pool. Joey Wiseman won the top prize of $224,236.

Thanks to the number of players participating this year, the BetMGM Poker Championship’s final prize pool was $3.2 million. This was much larger than the $2 million guaranteed by BetMGM.

Sean McCormack, MGM Resorts Director of Poker Strategy, said, “Tripling the entries in one year is an extraordinary leap. We raised the stakes by doubling the guarantee and then shattered it by over a million dollars. I am immensely grateful for the players, the MGM team, and BetMGM for making this event such a success. We look forward to our ongoing partnership for future poker events.”

Look for the BetMGM Poker Championship to continue as part of the Aria Poker Classic. The tournament should continue to grow as BetMGM Poker expands into new states.

MGM Resorts Las Vegas poker room video policy

MGM Resorts recently updated its rules for taking photos and recording video at table games outside of the poker room. However, this was the last part of the casino to receive a new content recording policy.

The company started to change its process for poker players earlier this year. In January, a player at Bellagio said the company was no longer allowing vloggers to record MGM Resorts Las Vegas poker rooms.

Prior to the Aria Poker Classic, MGM Resorts Director of Poker Strategy Sean McCormack shared some of the new policy for its Las Vegas poker rooms on Twitter.

The process to record content in MGM Resorts’ Las Vegas poker rooms is similar to other table games in the casino.

Anyone can take a photo of their own poker hand using their mobile phone. That’s all.

All video recordings must receive prior approval from MGM Resorts. Those looking to record content for profit or to share online must fill out a detailed streaming request form.

Content creators cannot livestream any poker games. They cannot record the faces of dealers.

Recording other players at a table requires prior approval. MGM Resorts will relocate players who prefer not to sit at a poker table that is being recorded.

Similar to the main casino floor recording policy, this is only being used at MGM Las Vegas casinos. Anyone looking to record in poker rooms outside of Las Vegas should enquire at the property.

This should be the beginning of mobile recording transparency in casinos

Mobile phones have become ubiquitous in the past decade. Just about everyone visiting a Las Vegas casino has a mobile phone that records content on them at all times.

Casino operators have been incredibly slow to react to how, when, and where guests can mobile phones inside their properties. Most casinos don’t have public rules on when and where guests can use their phones.

This can be a bit confusing for people who record every aspect of their lives on Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and more. Not having clear rules can also be arduous for those who record content for a living.

MGM Resorts’ recent public recording policies should be the beginning of more transparency on the topic by casinos.

Photo by PlayUSA
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Marc Meltzer

Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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