Bellagio Enjoys Major Breakthrough as Tournament Numbers Surge

More than 100 players are still in the hunt for $1.4 million in the biggest WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic in seven years. (Tim Fiorvanti photo)

More than 100 players are still in the hunt for $1.4 million on Day 3 of the biggest WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic in seven years. (Tim Fiorvanti photo)

Over the last few years, the Bellagio has been working to rehabilitate its image and restore itself to its previously lofty standing in the eyes of the community. If the tournament numbers for the WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic are any indication, the braintrust at the Bellagio has accomplished exactly what they set out to do.

The field reached 586 entries by the close of registration – 137 more than this tournament drew a year ago. It’s the biggest turnout for this event since Season VI of the WPT – with a total prizepool of almost $5.7 million and a first place prize of $1,477,890, the biggest since Season VII.

“We’re excited,” said Craig Lumpp, Director of Poker Operations at the Bellagio, of the turnout. “This has always been a marquee event on the WPT, and it deserves to continue to be one. We’re very excited to see that the players are loving Bellagio and that they want to come here.”

Lumpp was optimistic going in, but even he was shocked at just how high the field size got – as evidenced by the bet he and a few others made at the beginning of the week.

“I couldn’t be more ecstatic – it’s a bigger turnout than I expected. We had a bet – myself, Sean [McCormack], [Matt] Savage and Jason Marinucci, who’s running the tournament for us. We took bets at the beginning of the week, and the optimistic new guy happened to be the one closest to the number. I guess the older guys were a little more cynical,” said Lumpp with a laugh.

When we last talked to Lumpp and McCormick back in March, the were bullish on the future prospects of poker at the Bellagio. By streamlining the process and getting all hands on deck in support of this event, everything came together in the right way for this series.

“I think we fired every cylinder properly this year,” said Lumpp. “Starting with a solid schedule for the prelims, I think that builds the momentum up into the Main Event. I had a lot of support from the property this year – our president Randy Morton, our CFO Michael Longi – and our Senior Vice President of Casino Marketing took a real personal interest in it this year.”

“I attribute their efforts in speaking with a lot of our casino guests – in letting them know about this event – and I think that had a huge part in it so I have to thank them,” said Lumpp. “Even if I could go back six months, I wouldn’t have done anything differently in terms of letting people know and getting them in the door.”

There’s still a big event to come on the schedule – an Alpha8 event set to kick off on Thursday afternoon. After massive turnouts for a pair of $100,000 Super High Rollers at the end of the summer, including one in which Dan Smith won $2,044,000 (his second seven-figure Bellagio score in a seven month stretch), expectations are high.

“I think we’re going to have the biggest turnout that Alpha8 has ever seen,” said Lumpp. “Excited to hopefully have that claim. We have the culture of High Rollers, and we have players who want to play high buy-in events on a regular basis here at Bellagio. I think we have all the right parts to have a massive Alpha8.”

Lumpp tempered expectations a bit, but all signs still point towards another big success on the immediate horizon for the Bellagio and the WPT.

“It’s hard to predict, you don’t always know who’s going to show up,” said Lumpp, “But there are people signed up already, and that’s never happened for Alpha8 before so the prospects are quite good. Being attached to the Main Tour event is really going to drive the Alpha8. We’re scheduled for three days, which hasn’t been the case anywhere else – and there’s no place better suite for an event like this. I feel like it fits both of our brands very well.”

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Tim Fiorvanti

Tim Fiorvanti graduated from St. John's University with a B.S. in Journalism in 2008. After several years in the industry, he started working for BLUFF in the summer of 2010. He worked his way up at BLUFF and joined full time as a Senior Writer in April of 2012. Fiorvanti now serves as the Managing Editor of BLUFF. He's a tortured Mets and Jets fan, along with several other frustrating allegiances, but he's also a two-time defending BLUFF Fantasy Football Champion.
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