Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009 | 2:05 a.m.
Kevin Schaffel can partially thank tennis pro Serena Williams for making it this far in the World Series of Poker Main Event.
Before the tournament began, Schaffel watched the Wimbledon final between Serena and Venus Williams. After Serena beat her sister, she said the key was staying calm and patient.
Calm and patient. Those two words stuck with Schaffel.
“I wrote them down and kept them in my pocket the whole tournament,” Schaffel said. “I just tried to remember that during the down times.”
Not that there were many down times for 51-year old from Miami. He said after surviving one precarious all-in situation on the first day of the tournament, it all went fairly smooth.
Every round he increased his chip stack and never had a losing day.
“It was just such a strange tournament,” Schaffel said. “I never had a bad run once. You like to think you can play like that once or twice a year. I picked a good time.”
Schaffel turned professional after closing his printing company and has played in all but one of the World Series of Poker Main Events in the last six years.
He cashed in 2004 and 2008, but this is his first final table.
“I’ve reached the best, but at the same time, there is so much more to go,” Schaffel said. “I still think I have a whole lot more to learn.”
Schaffel enters the final table slightly short-stacked and sixth in chips.
But don’t think that is worrying him. He says he has no reason to break from his calm and patient mantra now.
“It’s what works for me,” Schaffel said. “There are certain players who need to be in action and play five out of eight hands. Others, that doesn’t work. That’s me.”
Carnival lasts all year at the Rio. With a float occasionally passing overhead and dropping beads while feathered dancers fire up the gamblers below, the Rio tries to keep its 120,000-square foot casino jumping with excitement. Special Brazilian mixed-drinks are also served throughout the casino. The hotel suites tend to be larger than similar priced rooms on the Strip and many offer excellent views with floor to ceiling windows.
The Rio offers some quality shows like "Penn & Teller" and "Chippendales." Many come to the Rio for the nightlife at the VooDoo Lounge, located on the 51st floor, or McFadden's Irish Pub on the casino level.
Others come for a bit relaxation at the Rio Spa or pool area and still others come to shop at the hotel's 60,000 square feet of shops. In each of these endeavors, the Rio attempts to make the experience a bit more fun and spontaneous.
The Rio also offers guests a variety of dining choices from all-American food at the All-American Bar & Grille to Gaylord India Restaurant for something a little spicier and even Carnival World Buffet for the indecisive.