While Sunday’s focus was on the Super Bowl, a few days earlier, the poker world focused on the Super High Roller Bowl. Registration for the year’s biggest event opened on Thursday, with players putting down $30,000 deposits at ARIA. In total, 54 players signed up for an open 35 seats, meaning a live lottery was going to be used to decide their fate.

That live lottery was held at ARIA on Friday, with Daniel Negreanu and ARIA’s Sean McCormack running the show. The 35 lottery winners had their $300,000 seats confirmed and the list included some of the world’s best players.

Poker Central Ambassadors Antonio Esfandiari, Tom Marchese and Brian Rast locked up seats. Rast, who won the inaugural Super High Roller Bowl in 2015, and last year’s winner Rainer Kempe, who also was picked in the live lottery, will now have the chance to do the unthinkable and win their second SHRB titles this summer.

Some Super High Roller Bowl returnees that will be looking to make big splashes later this year are Erik Seidel, Bryn Kenney, Andrew Robl, Byron Kaverman, Isaac Haxton, Scott Seiver and reigning GPI Player of the Year David Peters.

On the other side of the spectrum, there are a handful of Super High Roller Bowl rookies that will be making their first appearance in May. From high stakes crusher John Juanda to German darkhorses Christian Christner and Steffen Sontheimer, that group has a little bit of everything. Add in American’s Sean Winter and Ankush Mandavia and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of those newcomers make a Matt Berkey-esque run to this year’s final table.

While the Super High Roller Bowl final table is still a few months down the road, ARIA played host to three massive events surrounding SHRB registration. There were two single-day $25K High Rollers, as well as a $50K Super High Roller. Poker Central was at ARIA to provide updates from those final tables.

Cary Katz won the last ARIA High Roller of 2016, a $100,000 event, and he opened this year with another win. Katz picked up where he left off, taking down the first $25K High Roller of 2017 for just over $322,000 and proved why he was the most successful player through the series last year.

Dan Smith finished with the silver medal in the opening High Roller of the year but 24 hours later, was in the winner’s circle. Smith did one better, claiming $337,000 for his first win of 2017. With one of the best tournament resumes in the world, it would surprise no one if Friday’s win was the first of many in 2017.

The stakes were raised on Saturday and the $50K Super High Roller had nearly $1,700,000 up for grabs. In the end, it was a rematch of last year’s WSOP $50K Poker Player’s Championship heads up battle between Brian Rast and Justin Bonomo, with Rast winning again for a $772,000 score. Rast is a rare bread in the high stakes community and his ARIA Super High Roller win confirmed, again, that he is one of the best in the world.

The ARIA High Rollers will return next month and Poker Central will again be there to bring you all the action. For more on the Super High Roller Bowl and the ARIA High Rollers, keep an eye out for this week’s edition of the Poker Central Podcast.