The inaugural Aria Super High Roller Bowl that took place in July of 2015 was a rousing success, with 43 players each anteing the $500k buy-in, and competing for the $7.5 million first-place prize. The inaugural SHRB (as it has become known) was so successful and so well received that Aria and Poker Central immediately decided they would bring the ultra-high-stakes tournament back for an encore in 2016… with a few tweaks.

First and foremost, the 2016 version of the Super High Roller Bowl features a reduced buy-in, you could have entered the tournament for just $300k this time around, but if you were planning on playing you’re already too late, the 49 player cap the tournament organizers added this year has already been reached and according to Aria, a sizable waiting list has already been created.

As Aria’s new Director of Poker Sean McCormack, said in a press release, “I’ve never seen a high stakes tournament sell out three months in advance. It’s unprecedented. We have a significant waiting list, too!”

“The speed at which this exciting event sold out is evidence of the popularity of the Super High Roller Bowl and of poker itself,” said Clint Stinchcomb, CEO of Poker Central, the SHRB’s chief sponsor. “With some of the most exciting and famous players already locked in, the Super High Roller Bowl will be riveting to watch.”

The appeal of the SHRB

Why did the tournament sell out so fast?

The likely reason is that unlike most Super-High-Roller tournaments, the SHRB has a lot of value thanks to the tweaks I mentioned in the opening, as the SHRB contains multiple wrinkles players won’t find anywhere else.

First, the 2016 SHRB is a rake-free tournament, with the entirety of each player’s $300k buy-in going directly into the prize-pool.

Second, sponsors of the 2016 SHRB have kicked in additional $300k (bringing the total prize-pool to $15 million) to the prize-pool, making this one of only a handful of tournaments in poker history with a significant value added amount in the prize-pool.

Third, 14 of the 49 seats were reserved for non-professional poker players, so unlike most high-roller tournaments, the lineup isn’t a complete murderer’s row of the best and brightest the game has to offer, and more than a handful of poker pros should have a positive expectation in the event.

Fourth, the 2015 SHRB was one of the most talked about poker tournaments of the year, and episodes were the cornerstone of Poker Central’s exclusive programming.

Finally, the 2016 SHRB takes place just before the start of the 2016 World Series of Poker, when the bulk of the poker world will already be in Las Vegas. The tournament will begin on May 29th, and if players are fortunate enough, they’ll play for four days. Last year’s took place around the WSOP Main Event, which is another solid time to host a poker tournament in Las Vegas.

Who’s playing

As was the case in 2015, the list of entrants for the 2016 SHRB has also been revealed, and Aria and Poker Central are smartly using the well-known names on the list in their marketing of the event, with 47 of the 49 registered players identified:

Andrew Robl Anthony Gregg Antonio Esfandiari Ben Lamb
Ben Tollerene Bill Perkins Bobby Baldwin Brandon Steven
Brian Rast Bryn Kenney Byron Kaverman Cary Katz
Christoph Vogelsang Connor Drinan Dan Colman Dan Perper
Dan Shak Dan Smith Daniel Negreanu David Peters
Dominik Nitsche Doug Polk Erik Seidel Fedor Holz
Haralabos Voulgaris Igor Kurganov Isaac Haxton Jake Schindler
Jason Les Jason Mercier John Morgan Justin Bonomo
Kathy Lehne Larry Wright Matthew Berkey Nick Petrangelo
Phil Galfond Phil Hellmuth Phil Laak Rainer Kempe
Sam Soverel Scott Seiver Stephen Chidwick Talal Shakerchi
Timofey Kuznetsov Tom Marchese Vitaliy Rizhkov Player TBA 1
Player TBA 2

The two unknown players are likely wealthy businessmen, as some aren’t very keen on announcing their travel plans to the world, and because of the aforementioned 14 non-pro player requirement.

Another interesting wrinkle is that all seven of the players who cashed in the 2015 SHRB will be participating in the 2016 tournament.

Here are the results from last year’s tournament, won by Brian Rast:

  1. Brian Rast – $7,525,000
  2. Scott Seiver – $5,160,000
  3. Connor Drinan – $3,225,000
  4. Timofey Kuznetsov – $2,150,000
  5. David Peters – $1,505,000
  6. Tom Marchese – $1,075,000
  7. Erik Seidel – $860,000

In fact, the amount of repeat players is a clear sign at how well last year’s SHRB went.