Monday, Oct. 29, 2012 | 12:55 p.m.
There will be magic of a different kind today in Penn & Teller’s theater at the Rio. Eight Americans and one Hungarian will sit down at the 2012 World Series of Poker’s Final Table to conjure up a win and slide $8.5 million up their sleeves.
The purse is a total of $27.258 million, and interest was added since the October Nine was set in early summer. The total prize pool for this Main Event is $62 million, and 666 players -- scary! -- have cashed in to date.
Drama is heightened because there will be a break once the table is down to a Final Three. They’ll play Tuesday starting at 6 p.m. PT with live ESPN coverage. Today’s live coverage will be on ESPN 2 at 5 p.m. PT.
First place equals $8.5 million, 2nd place $5.2 million and 3rd $3.8 million. Nearly 75,000 players started in the quest for fame and fortune this year from 101 countries. The total prize pool in the 61 events hit $222 million.
Two of today’s nine players are from Las Vegas: 33-year-old Jeremy Ausmus in Seat #3 (9,805,000 chips) and 26-year-old Jesse Sylvia in Seat #6 (the chip leader at 43,875,000). The youngest player, Jake Balsiger, 21, is from nearby Tempe, Ariz., and the oldest is Steve Gee, 57, from Sacramento, Calif. The sole non-American player is Andras Koroknai from Debrecen, Hungary.
Jeremy, who moved to Las Vegas from Colorado, has eight years of poker experience and 13 WSOP wins -- eight of which were earned this year. His wife Adria is expecting that with all the excitement, their new baby might be born today or Tuesday.
The miracle story of this year’s WSOP is Jesse, who at one point on the seventh day of play was near the bottom with 4 million. Then he went on a tear and roared from 27th into the Final Nine. He’s playing alongside his mentor Russell Thomas and vows that if he wins, he’ll move to L.A. to make movies.
Las Vegas continues its presence on national and global TV. We’ve just enjoyed five thrilling days of the Professional Bull Riders at the Thomas & Mack Center resulting in the crowning of the Boys from Brazil for our final day’s coverage.
Now comes the WSOP. Next month, a TV highlight will be CeeLo Green’s Christmas special with Rod Stewart and the Muppets filmed at Planet Hollywood, and then in December, it’s Donald Trump’s Miss Universe Pageant also at Planet Hollywood.
Check back to Vegas DeLuxe on Tuesday as we take a closer look at the Final Three gunning for the big money. Meantime, check out Las Vegas Sun Sports reporter Case Keefer’s rundown of the Final Nine players.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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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.