Joe Giron/World Poker Tour
Wednesday, May 29, 2013 | 3:06 p.m.
Casino employees play poker like high rollers starting today when the 44th annual World Series of Poker begins and continues through July 15. On Saturday, the poker princes, princesses and players descend on The Rio for the first $1,500 buy-in event that guarantees the first $1 million in prize money.
The Main Event with its $10,000 buy-in starts July 6 with tens of thousands of players resulting in the Final Nine to play Nov. 4-5 on ESPN. WSOP programming that captures the excitement of Las Vegas airs in 84 countries on five continents available to 300 million households. WSOP, which began in 1970, is gaming’s premiere event. In its 44 years, it has paid out more than $1.6 billion.
Last year, entries topped 230,000, with a record of more than $222 million paid out. The nearly 75,000 entries for the 62 bracelet events were the second most of all time, with 6,600 entered for the Main Event. Defending champion Greg Merson of Maryland, who won $8,531,853, is returning. Three ballrooms at The Rio are set up with more than 500 tables for the registered players, card sharks and amateur hopefuls representing 101 countries and competing in 62 events.
This year’s charity event for Guy Laliberte’s water foundation One Drop has a $111,111 buy-in and is June 26-28. ESPN will cover WSOP every Tuesday, with 34 episodes airing July 23 through Nov. 5.
Meantime, the World Poker Tour wrapped at Bellagio after a week. In the Super High Roller game, six players battled for the $1 million prize. With 21 entrants in the $100,000 buy-in tournament, it was no surprise that the Final Table included the most talented players, including David Sands, Joseph Cheong, Andrew Robl and Daniel Perper. It took nearly 8 hours before David emerged victorious for his first WPT title and was crowned Season XI Super High Roller Champion.
The Final Table of the WPT World Championship wound up as one of the most dramatic season-closing events in its history. David “Chino” Reem won $1.1 million, with Erick Lindgren in second with $650,275. But it was Matt Salsberg who won the XI Player of the Year honors and a custom-made $75,000 poker table. It took 600 hours to build using 15 different types of wood.
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.
Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.
Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.
Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.
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.