Do you have a bucket list? You know, a list of experiences or achievements you hope to have accomplished during your lifetime, before you “kick the bucket?” Most poker players do. Ask any of them to name one item on their bucket list and, unless they have been fortunate enough to have ticked it off already, it is to play poker in fabulous Las Vegas.
This summer, partypoker created and ran an amazing promotion that gave its players the chance to fulfil a lifelong dream, the dream of heading to the place affectionately known as Sin City armed with a $6,000 package to the $2 million guaranteed WPT500 Aria tournament. The fact player could win these packages for free meant the Kings Of Vegas promotion was amazing, the fact the package allowed a friend or family member to tag along meant it was unrivalled.
Over the course of the promotion, 25 partypoker players won a $6,000 Kings Of Vegas package that meant flights (for two), accommodation at Aria Resort and Casino (for two), buy-in to the WPT500 (for two), limousine pick-up and drop-off at the airport (for two) and a whole bunch of extras were paid for and they could enjoy the whole Vegas experience.
One of the most eagerly anticipated non-poker activities was the partypoker VIP pool party at Liquid. With so many players travelling across the world hoping to become a king of Vegas, the pool party was their opportunity to get over the dreaded jetlag, kick back, relax and – literally – get warmed up for their tournament challenge.
The players were joined by the partypoker girls, partypoker and WPT staff and the two new Royal Flush Girls.
After the epic pool party it was time for the WPT500 Aria Main Event and what a tournament it was.
A total of 5,113 entries were processed over the 10 starting flights, among some of poker’s most recognisable names and faces. Scott Baumstein, the partypoker Team Pro for New Jersey, the delectable WPT anchor, Lynn Gilmartin, and WPT Caribbean champion and partypoker blog strategy writer, Tony Dunst were all in attendance, but it was a relatively unknown gentleman from Leeds, United Kingdom who caught our eye and captured our imagination.
Milan Harper was blissfully unaware of the Kings Of Vegas promotion until he unfortunately bust from the partypoker Grand Prix Million at Dusk Till Dawn, Nottingham. While chatting to the partypoker promotion girls, Sophie and Annabel, at the bar, Milan discovered that he would receive a Kings Of Vegas final ticket if he deposited $200 or more into his partypoker account.
After returning to his West Yorkshire home, Milan did just that and, as promised, receive his ticket to the weekly final. To cut a long story short, Milan went on to secure a $6,000 Kings Of Vegas package which he shared with his close friend and fellow poker player, Nick Todd.
When we spoke to Milan about his expectations and hopes for his Las Vegas experience, one of the things he was most looking forward to was meeting poker legend, Mike Sexton.
“It’s great that partypoker are putting something like this on for the players,” said Milan who had the chance to schmooze with Mike and his fellow players at the welcome drinks party and during the exclusive Mike Sexton invitational tournament that was only open to partypoker players.
Mingling with stars had to be put on hold because Milan was going great guns in the WPT500 Aria Main Event, so good in fact that he navigated his way to the final 18 of the massive field and had guaranteed himself a guaranteed payout of at least $14,800.
A day after shooting that interview, Milan found himself at the nine-handed final table and with a realistic chance of leaving Las Vegas with a cool $330,000 stuffed into his suitcase.
Sadly for Milan, his superb run came to an abrupt end in ninth place. Seasoned pro, Hunter Cichy, raised with [4c4d] and called when Milan re-raised all-in with [AcQs]. Hunter improved to a set of fours on the flop and when the turn and river fell and it was game over for Milan.
“The promotion was fantastic,” said Milan, “partypoker gave you an opportunity to win a trip to Vegas for free. We [Nick and Milan] were considering a trip to Vegas this year at some point anyway and partypoker made it happen.”
Milan’s friend, Nick, had plenty of reasons to be railing had plenty of reasons to be cheering from the sidelines because the poker-loving pair swap 25% of each other in each tournament they play, which meant Nick walked away with $8,450 of Milan’s $33,800 winnings.
Craig Varnell, of Ohio, was the eventual champion, but Milan was most definitely our King Of Vegas!
Michael Nielsen, the Label Manager for partypoker said of Milan’s exploits:
“Congratulations from the entire partypoker crew to Milan Harper on his amazing performance in the WPT500, which took him all the way to the final table. We were all rooting for him to go all the way, but a 9th place finish and a $33,0000 payday is not at all bad considering that he got there on a whim.
We’re extremely happy with how the inaugural Kings of Vegas promotion played out. This is one of the biggest promotions partypoker has run in several years, and we’ve had a lot of great feedback from the players. Kings of Vegas will definitely return in 2016, where we’ll look to send even more players and their friends off to Vegas for a trip of a lifetime.”
Due to battling out at the felt, Milan missed the chance to head into the Nevada desert with his fellow partypoker qualifiers for some dune buggy racing, gun shooting and helictoper rides, but we’re sure there’ll be another chance to enjoy this excursions next summer.
As Michael said, partypoker will be in Las Vegas in 2016, Milan will probably return too. The question is, will you be joining us and have you got what it takes to be one of the Kings of Vegas?
Want to see more from Kings Of Vegas?
If you want to enjoy many more photographs and video clips shot during the WPT500 Aria, head to this Flickr page and this YouTube account where you’ll find everything that your eyes, ears and heart desire.