Welcome to the cheap seats: HPT & Westgate LV in VIP discount controversy

Welcome to the cheap seats: HPT & Westgate LV in VIP discount controversy

The brand images of the Heartland Poker Tour and Westgate Las Vegas took a scuffing after someone decided to offer players a 50% discount on seats when it appeared an overlay was forthcoming angering players who paid full whack.


Welcome to the cheap seats: HPT & Westgate LV in VIP discount controversyIt makes people do the strangest things.

I’ve been fortunate enough to work for a variety of live tournament operators throughout the years, and I can say with some authority that when it comes to ‘guarantee squeaky bum time’ typically sane, respectable people act like monkeys watching a bonfire of bananas.

Heartland Poker Tour (HPT) and the Westgate in Las Vegas aren’t the first live tour to try a shady move to reach a guarantee, and they won’t be the last, but what an almighty cock-up.

The $1,650 buy-in, $500,000 Guaranteed HPT Main Event at the Westgate, Las Vegas should have been a celebration. It was the first time the HPT had appeared in Las Vegas since 2014, and both outfits were expecting a big field.

334+ to be exact.

But it didn’t work out that way.

According to numerous press reports, sometime on Saturday afternoon (towards the end of late registration on Day 3), the respected HPT Tournament Director (TD), Jeremy Smith, sent a tweet to his 1,369 followers that there were only 300 players on the clock meaning a potential $69,000 overlay.

No biggie.

Poker tournaments crash and burn against the rocks of lofty guarantees all of the time.

But this one was different.

The Tweet From The Trooper

As the clock ebbed away and the overlay was looking likely Poker Vlogger, The Trooper, sent out the following tweet.

“If you’d like to play the HPT Main Event @WestgateVegas in one hour for an $800 discount ($850 instead of $1650) DM me immediately and start heading to Westgate.”

Hang on?

What about the 300 players who ponied up the price on the tin?

While this is going on, Ben Yu is at the cash desk readying to fire his third $1,650 bullet when he hears about the same announcement coming from the sportsbook.

Someone ushers Yu towards a tournament/casino official, where the officials ask Yu if he is one of ‘Matusow’s boys?’


Get out of the way then.

Yu posts about the snub on Twitter and a whole lot of fuss ensues, with Matusow the only person not fussing.

Truth or Lies

People begin tweeting Jeremy Smith to ask what’s going on. Smith denies that the decision had anything to do with the HPT – it was a Westgate decision.

More dissatisfied players voice concerns over Twitter.

Players even threaten to boycott HPT events.

Apart from Smith’s comments, neither the HPT or the Westgate comment officially about the debacle until poker writers start tapping keys with a furious swagger, and then the Westgate releases this…

“End of reg for the ‪@HPTPoker Main Event we chose to pay a portion of the entry fee for select VIP. Full $1,650 entry$ accounted for in the $500k main event that continues through 4/9. WR is upholding all prize packages & guarantees are being upheld.  Good luck to the participants.”

So there is no problem?

Only there is a problem. It’s a word that’s often hidden like a cheap whore in poker.


Poker players aren’t stupid.

They can see through the lies.

But poker players are fickle.

As long as the Westgate and HPT keep putting on events, poker players will come, and this sorry-arse of a mess will be herded aside like the rest of them.