Thursday, May 20, 2010 | 4:51 p.m.
The Amazon and Pavilion ballrooms at the Rio are mostly silent this week.
Aside from the handful of employees who ventured in to start setting up Thursday, the rooms were also empty.
Consider it the calm before the storm. Starting next Friday, the Rio will transform into the world capital of poker for the 41st annual World Series of Poker.
"We're excited about the event this summer," Tournament Director Jack Effel said recently. "There's been a lot of planning and preparation for this year's event."
Here's a by the numbers breakdown of everything necessary to make the tournament series a success.
• 57 tournaments the World Series will host this summer. It kicks off Friday, May 28, with the $500 buy-in casino employee's event and $50,000 buy-in Poker Player's Championship, which consists of an eight-game mix. It ends Saturday, July 17, when nine players emerge from the $10,000 no-limit hold 'em Main Event to make the final table that reconvenes in November.
• 60,875 tournament entries at last year's World Series. It set a record for participation. "Here's a bold prediction: We're very confident that our total participation will again set a record this year," World Series of Poker Vice President Ty Stewart said.
• 113 countries were represented by at least one player at last year's World Series. Will any country grab its first victory at the 2010 World Series of Poker? In 2009, Hungary won its first World Series title when Peter Traply finished first in the $5,000 no-limit hold 'em shootout event.
• 377 poker tables set up for tournament play. That means, with nine people per table, 3,393 players can compete at one time. The bigger events, including the Main Event, use multiple starting days to accommodate more players.
• 1,200 dealers hired by Harrah's to work at the World Series. The World Series starts with 1,200 expecting at least 1,000 to make it throughout the entire summer.
• 525,000 tournament chips ordered for use at the World Series. Local company Gaming Partners International supplies the World Series with all of its chips. Tournament officials rotate through a few sets of different-colored chips as the World Series goes on.
• 100,000 square feet occupied in the Rio convention center by the World Series. This makes it the world's largest poker room throughout the summer.
• $172,753,119 was the total prize pool for the 57 events combined last summer. With more players expected this year, the prize pool also is expected to increase in 2010. The winner of each tournament will take home a nice score and a coveted World Series of Poker gold bracelet.
• 512 living poker players own World Series of Poker bracelets. Phil Hellmuth has the most with 11. Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson each have 10 bracelets.
• 25 bracelet winners will face off at the World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions this summer, which will conclude on the Fourth of July. Fans can vote for their favorite champions at the World Series of Poker's Web site. Two slots will be withheld for qualifiers.
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.