Saturday, May 29, 2010 | 2:05 a.m.
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- 2009 World Series of Poker
While more than 100 players participated in the World Series of Poker’s most expensive event Friday at the Rio, a much larger contingent gathered at the registration window to enter the series’ cheapest tournament.
Thousands have registered for Event No. 3, $1,000 no-limit hold’em, which starts at noon today at the Rio.
“I think it’s a great deal with the recession and everything,” said James Lamatrice, a casual player from Las Vegas who will play in the tournament.
Players like Lamatrice who love the cheaper buy-in tournaments at the World Series can thank the economic downturn for the opportunity. The World Series held its first $1,000 no-limit hold’em tournament last year and dubbed it the "Stimulus Special."
The response exceeded anything organizers imagined. The tournament, which featured two starting days, reached its maximum number of players at 6,012. It was the largest non-Main Event field in World Series history, despite many players being turned away when the tournament reached its capacity.
Lamatrice was one of the unlucky latecomers.
“Last year, I played in some $1,500 and $2,500 events but missed the $1,000 because it was capped out,” he said.
Because of the success of the tournament, however, organizers wanted to make sure players like Lamatrice wouldn't be denied in 2010.
That’s why they included an unprecedented six $1,000 no-limit hold’em tournaments on this year’s schedule. It’s an attempt to give poker players from any level a chance to win a coveted gold bracelet.
Hopefuls like Dmitrijs Kohanovskis, an amateur from Latvia, have flooded Las Vegas to play.
“I think it’s good experience for me,” Kohanovskis said. “Of course, I’m going to try and improve.”
The field won't be fully composed of recreational players, though. Professionals will surely jump at the chance to get in Event No. 3, as it’s an early way to get on the board and boost bankroll at the start of the summer-long World Series.
Kia Hamadani, a semi-professional from Los Angeles, might fall into the latter category.
“I’m neutral on the cheaper tournaments,” Hamadani said. “It makes it easier for the less experienced players with less money to play, so that’s always fun. I’m all for getting as many people as possible.”
Hamadani earned a good chunk of ESPN airtime at last year’s Main Event when he finished as the “bubble boy” in 649th place, one spot out of the money. As a consolation for his misfortune, a sponsor will pay Hamadani’s $10,000 entry fee into this year’s Main Event.
Other players will use the $1,000 tournaments like Event No. 3 with hopes of earning enough to buy into the Main Event.
It’s all made the first $1,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em tournament a can’t-miss-event.
“If there’s one event you want to play in at the World Series and you’re low on funds, come play in the first $1,000 event,” Tournament Director Jack Effel said.
Poker Player’s Championship numbers up, but not by much
Some players made side bets that this year’s $50,000 buy-in Poker Player’s Championship would have more than 200 entries.
They were way off. When registration ended after two levels of play Friday night, 116 players were in the field for the mixed games event.
Sixteen spots will be paid with the winner earning $1.55 million. It’s an increase from last year, when 95 players entered and winner David Bach took home $1.2 million.
Five players were eliminated after seven hours of play Saturday night, including notable pros Tom Dwan and Greg Mueller.
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.