By Matt Clark
Live! Casino tournament director Jason Heidenthal is utilizing social media’s powers to the fullest to draw players for WPT Maryland. The fourth season of the partnership between the East Coast property and WPT features a $1.5 million guarantee starting on September 21.
Heidenthal’s room is giving away seats in smaller events in the hopes of breaking the attendance record for the event. “Knockout Week” featured two seats added for the series leaderboard winners.
Qualifiers starting at $120 are guaranteeing three seats with another seat added. The wildfire spread of information on social media is assisting with the draw of attracting players across the DMV region.
Live! Poker Room’s account boasts more than 6,000 followers. Heidenthal tags players from his own account when announcing events and the algorithm does the work from there.
“We are as of [August 28], up to 36 qualifiers,” Heidenthal said. “My goal is to get at least 90 for this year.”
Live! Casino adds seats to thanks to a new initiative started in recent years. Two dollars from every tournament entry is added to a jackpot fund that pays out in the form of seats for major events.
Heidenthal utilized the fund over the summer when he thought of a record-breaking idea. A total of 200 retweets and the bi-weekly $20,000 guaranteed $120 “Wednesday Night Special” would go up to a $30,000 guarantee. The target breached in less than two weeks and a WPT Maryland $3,500 seat was tacked on to the first-place prize.
“One day, it just dawned on me and I threw the idea at [Live! Director of Poker Operations Mike Smith],” Heidenthal recalls. “Let’s offer them a bump in the guarantee and a seat from the jackpot fund. The players rewarded themselves, it was the talk of the room for a few days. Largest one-day tournament we’ve ever had. The players got rewarded and the message of the tournament calendar got pushed out.”
The tournament finished with 440 runners and the winner received over $9,000 along with the seat.
“Whether you’re playing a $100 event tonight or if you’re playing a $500, you’re reaping the rewards,” Heidenthal added.
In Season XVI, Clayton Fletcher turned a social media freeroll run by Maryland Live! into a $16,000 cash for a 21st-place finish.
Heidenthal credits Smith for giving the green light to his concepts.
“Mike is open for any ideas,” Heidenthal said. “He’s been a great leader for many years. He’s always open for ideas and gives a thumbs up for a try. The management team is full of ambition.”
August 28 marked the fifth year anniversary of the Live! Poker Room opening its doors. Heidenthal says the last 12 months, which include the WPT Main Tour and WPTDeepStacks, are the strongest in the room’s history.
“Tournament growth year over year is the busiest since we opened,” Heidenthal said. “2018 month over month has been the best we’ve had. When you have the players in the room, it’s easy to fill the satellites.”
Season XVI’s WPT Maryland event pooled 110 qualifiers on top of the 90 who made their way in on a discount in Season XV, according to Heidenthal. The 110 figure represents almost 20 percent of the total field.
This season’s pace approaches triple digits with a few weeks left until WPT Maryland. Heidenthal looks forward to showing off the new Live! Hotel convention space available for Day 1 and Day 2.
Players looking for more information on the WPT Maryland series and Live! Poker Room can find Heidenthal just a tweet away.
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