Friday, April 17, 2009 | 8 a.m.
It’s a big weekend for Las Vegas’ poker scene.
Tonight Jennifer Harman’s third-annual Charity Poker Tournament kicks off at 5 p.m. in the Venetian poker room.
The event, which benefits the Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), includes past World Series of Poker main-event champions Doyle Brunson, Chris Ferguson, Phil Hellmuth, and Jerry Yang.
Other pros that plan on playing the $330 buy-in, $100 rebuys an add-ons tourney include Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein, Eli Elezra, Andy Bloch, Maria Ho, and Tiffany Michelle.
The winner grabs a seat at the 2009 World Series of Poker main event and a Curtis and Co. watch. The top 10 finishers also win prizes.
On Saturday, the World Poker Tour (WPT) Championship kicks off at the Bellagio.
The $25,000 buy-in tournament is the last stop of Season VII and will air on Fox Sports Net.
David Chiu beat out 545 entrants last year, including Full Tilt Poker pro Gus Hansen, to claim the $3.4 million top prize. Hansen snagged $1.7 million for second as 100 players finished in the money.
The London Times reported Sunday that Harrah's Entertainment hired Mitch Garber, the former PartyGaming CEO.
While his role hasn’t been defined, speculators say Garber could head a new division of Internet gambling as well as the WSOP.
According to PokerListings, Harrah’s CEO Gary Loveman said at the 2007 Global Gaming Expo that the WSOP may branch into online formats in Europe.
Legalities in the United States prevent such a situation, but a U.S.-based company can offer online services in Europe.
"Although there's plenty of support brewing for legalization and regulation of online gambling in the United States, it's not a done deal yet," wrote Lou Krieger, the editor of Poker Player Newspaper, on a recent blog.
"Nevertheless, Garber's hiring puts Harrah's out in front of the curve should UIGEA be set aside, and Garber's presence would give Harrah's a hand up the ladder in the US online poker market."