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Bay 101 Gears Up For World Poker Tour Shooting Star Event With Three Weeks Of Satellites

Win Your $7,500 Seat For As Little As $275


This March, the World Poker Tour will roll in San Jose for the 20th yearly running of the Bay 101 Shooting Star, the largest poker tournament in Northern California. It’s almost unheard of to see a tournament last two decades, but the annual series has become a staple of the poker world thanks to consistently large fields, huge prizepools, a unique tournament format, exemplary customer service and the best poker fanatics in the country.

The Shooting Star Main Event

The $7,500 buy-in tournament has been featured as part of the WPT since season 2 back in 2004, but has been running strong ever since its inception as a $1,000 tournament in 1997. The tournament was created by Bay 101 owner Marko Trapani, who wanted it to stand out on the circuit for its distinctive celebrity bounty format.

“He basically had the idea to create a poker tournament modeled after the old Bing Crosby golf tournament, where celebrities would come in and play with the general public, and the celebrities would have cash bounties on them,” said WPT Executive Tour Director Matt Savage. “Some of our original shooting stars were the old school players like Tom McEvoy, Marsha Waggoner and Barbara Enright. Phil Hellmuth and Erik Seidel have been shooting stars for a long time.”

Each year, around 50 poker pros and celebrities are designated as shooting stars. These pros compete in the tournament just like everyone else, but if you happen to bust one of them, you’ll not only get an autographed T-shirt and photo with your bounty, you’ll also earn $2,500 cash on the spot. There is no limit to how many bounties you can earn.

“Sometimes it’s an advantage because players will go out of their way to get into pots with them, but other times it’s a disadvantage because they have people gunning for their bounty,” explained Savage. “I think it’s a fun dynamic that everyone enjoys, whether you’re a shooting star or just a regular person in the field.”

This year, players such as Daniel Negreanu, Phil Hellmuth, Mike Sexton, Antonio Esfandiari, Greg Merson, Maria Ho, Erik Seidel and 2015 WSOP main event champion Joe McKeehen have confirmed their spots in the tournament. The format is so popular, that Savage, who has called Bay 101 his home casino since 1994, is inundated with requests throughout the year to become a shooting star.

“Every year there are poker players trying to persuade me that they should be a shooting star,” said Savage. “I get the text messages and the tweets from those who think they had a good year and deserve it. Over the years we’ve kind of morphed the selection criteria. It used to be more focused on the old guard. In recent years, we’ve tried to include more of the young, up-and-coming players. We like to have a nice balance of the two.”

Not only are there bounties to be won throughout the tournament, but if you happen to finish day 1A or 1B as the overnight chip leader, you’ll also earn $10,000 in cash as a bonus. Additionally, once the tournament reaches the final 36 players, the tables are adjusted for six-handed play.

“We’ve been doing since 2006,” recalled Savage. “I wanted to create a different style of poker. In order to win a poker tournament, you have to be able to be able to adjust your game as the field gets smaller. So I think that making it six-handed for the final six tables really rewards those players who can adjust. It creates more action, and as a result, there is more play at the final table because the stacks are deeper. I also think it makes the play down day even more exciting for the players and those watching or reading the updates at home.”

In addition to the main event, Bay 101 will also offer two additional tournaments, including a $1,950+$90+$60 side event which will be capped at 300 entrants and is sure to sell out. There will also be a $25,000 buy-in High Roller event with 50,000 in starting chips.

A Strong Satellite System

One reason why the Shooting Star has managed to stay relevant and even thrive in an increasingly saturated poker tournament market is because of a strong satellite system that allows as much as a third of the field to enter for as little as $275.

“It’s unlike anything you see anywhere in the poker world,” said Savage. “There’s nowhere else in the world where you can run a $500 satellite three months ahead of an event and get 17 seats or something like that. It’s just unheard of. Not even the WSOP could do that.”

A field chock full of recreational players isn’t just good for the pros, it’s good for the poker economy as well. Rather than have all of the money simply circulate among the professionals on the circuit, the Shooting Star gives locals a chance at a huge payday to keep in their own backyard.

“We work on preparing for the Shooting Star series pretty much all year long,” said Gudim. “We run satellites constantly. Even the players in our regular daily tournaments win $275 vouchers that they can use to enter Shooting Star satellites and we started doing this six months before the series. We ran a satellite in December at 9 a.m., and it got 271 entrants. In January, we ran a satellite with 297 players. For the three weeks leading up to the main event, we run satellites every single day.”

Take a look at the satellite schedule here.

About The Bay 101 Casino

If you do find yourself eliminated from the tournament, there are still plenty options for poker players to enjoy, including the best cash game action in Northern California spread in the 31-table poker room. Furthermore, although there is a wide array of big games running, Bay 101 knows that the key to a successful card room is cultivating interest in the game from new players at the lower stakes.

“Our dealers and floor people are very skilled and pride themselves on providing great customer service, but we also love to cater to all poker players regardless of their experience or the size of their bankroll,” said Gudim. “We spread $3-$6 limit, all the way up to $80-$160. For just $40 you can get into our no-limit games. It’s important that you take care of your existing customers by spreading the games that they want, but you also have to make it easy for any first-time player to jump in and enjoy the game at a comfortable level.”

If you want to take a break from poker, you can always play Blackjack, 3 Card Poker, Baccarat, Pai Gow Tiles and Ultimate Texas Hold’em. You can even check out the newly remodeled and now open Sutters Broiler & Gaming Lounge. In 2017, Bay 101 will get even better. Casino officials have already broken ground on a brand new property which will feature upgraded dining options and the same great customer service that casino patrons have come to expect.

Bay 101 Casino is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is located at 1801 Bering Drive San Jose, CA 95112. For more information about the casino or the Shooting Star, visit the casino homepage or follow @Bay101Casino on Twitter. If you’d like to reserve your spot in any of the tournaments or you need help finding hotel accommodations, you can call 408-467-5735.