NAPT Venetian: Celebs lining up to give back

napt-thumb.jpgI have seen The Venetian Poker room more times than I can count. I've played tons of sessions, several tournaments, and one fairly exciting final table. Still, I've never seen the room as it is right now.

What was already a giant poker room has spilled out onto the casino floor. That will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen the Deep Stack Extravaganza. The event always requires more tables than the giant poker room can hold. Now, however, the tables stretch even farther and wrap around past the sports book.

Why? Well, we're about to see history take place at The Venetian when the North American Poker Tour kicks off tonight with a celebrity charity tournament and massive party.

Built on the property of what was once the fabled Sands Hotel, The Venetian is home to more than 4,000 suites, a giant casino, and 20 top-notch restaurants. The place is gigantic and awesome in more than a few ways.

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In fact, I'd suggest that anyone coming to play this weekend take a chance just to stand outside for a few minutes and take in the enormity and beauty of what The Venetian has to offer. If you stay quiet for just a couple of minutes, you're bound to hear an Italian song from a gondolier that--even if you haven't been to Italy--will take you there in a second.

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Once inside, you'll notice something new to the casino floor: the entrance to the NAPT player lounge. Though the doors are closed on that lounge until tomorrow, I was granted a sneak preview today. Giant Jenga, a Wii set-up, and a bunch of comfy sofas were already set up and in use by the likes of Team PokerStars Pros Joe Hachem, Gavin Griffin, and Dennis Phillips.

Meanwhile, one of several Main Event satellites are underway in the poker room. I've already had the chance to chat with players who are hoping to make their way into the $5,000 Main Event for a few hundred bucks.

All of today's action is leading up to a celebrity charity re-buy tournament this afternoon benefiting Three Square, a local Las Vegas non-profit charity that provides nutritious food to more than 270 other not-for-profit and faith-based organizations in an effort to end hunger in Southern Nevada. Among the celebs were expecting to see at the tables tonight are Tony Hawk, Christian Slater, Brad Garrett, Jason Alexander, Joanna Krupa, Orel Hershiser, Montel Williams, Slash, Donnie Wahlberg, Marlon Wayans, AJ Buckley and Ryan Hunter Reay.

And when that's all done, well, it's time to bring the Pain, or, to be more precise, T-Pain. Once again, we've been given the gift of a fairly insane launch party at The Venetian's club Tao. T-Pain will be headlining the party tonight at 8pm.

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After that, we'll bed down and hope to catch a few Z's, because tomorrow at high noon, the NAPT Venetian event will kick off with what is looking to be a monster crowd. Team PokerStars Pros and qualifiers are coming in from all over the world.

If you're not already aware, the $5,000 Main Event will be televised on ESPN2, not to mention streamed lived by NAPT TV, and reported live right here on the PokerStars Blog. Come February 23rd, we'll also be enjoying a $25,000 Invitational Bounty Shooutout tournament with some of the biggest names in poker.

Join us here for the next week, because I'm getting the feeling this is the beginning of something pretty monumental.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in North American Poker Tour