OK, here's the thing I promised:
HOW TO GET TO THE WSOP
The Rio is about a mile off the Strip. I walked the route a few times, but I wouldn’t recommend it as it’s hot as fire in the daytime and dark and scary at night. The cheapest way is by city bus, which was the method I mostly used last year. A 30-day pass is about $30 and single rides are $1.50 or $2. The bus drops you off right in front of the casino. Taxis are, of course, most expensive and were about $10-$12 from Downtown. Strip rates depend how close you are to the Rio. The taxis will drop you off near the back, which is a much closer walk to the WSOP area.
If you enter the Rio from the front you walk straight back through a long corridor to the back of the building. It’s a solid quarter mile walk.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT AT THE WSOP
It’s a sight to behold if you’ve never been. The tournament room is huge, but what do you expect from a facility that must hold 200 tables? You may notice the dark area in the back with the “stars” in black background. That’s the ESPN filming area. The cash games in 2005 were played front right in the room, while satellites were in the front left. On many days, all the tables will be used for only the main tournament of the day until tables can be broken down in the afternoon. The nightly second chance tournament is played in the back left of the room. Walk into the room on any given day and there are many different games going on at once.
The main tournament registration area is outside before you reach the room. You’ll also find tournament schedules and structures piled on tables out there. Sign up for cash games at the desk near the cash game area. They use the computer system where you can see how far down the list you are. Lots of hold’em games and limits, a few Omaha games and not much stud.
For satellites, unless there is a big crowd, you can just sit around and wait for one to end and then walk up and grab a seat for the next one. When it is busy, a line forms behind a podium in the area. There are lots of $125 satellites for 2 $500 buy-in chips and $50 satellites in which two players receive $225 vouchers for the nightly second chance tournament.
There is one, and sometimes two, bracelet events each day. All of the $1,500 NLHE tournaments will have monster fields near 2,000 people, while the bigger buy in NLHE are somewhat smaller. Limit hold’em and Omaha and stud events have more modest fields of 500 or less. Triple-draw lowball is a pro only field, and let’s not even talk about the $50,000 HORSE tournament.
There will be a daily $540 second chance tournament at 5 p.m. and another one for $225 at 11 p.m.
Super satellites, with a $230 buy in plus rebuys, take place daily at 3 p.m. for a seat in the main event. A nightly mega satellite for $1,060 is held at 7 p.m. Leading up to the ME on July 26 and July 27, there will be two supers and two megas each day. The first main event seat you win you must play, but if you win a second seat you get $10,000 in lammers that you can use to buy into other tournaments or sell. If you need to sell lammers, stand near the registration area and offer them up. You should be able to get face value so don’t take anything less.
FREEBIES TO LOOK FOR
Find the Full Tilt Poker hospitality suite and register there. In 2005, they gave out caps, T-shirts, posters and mouse pads, as well as free drinks – both alcoholic and non. There are plenty of poker magazines floating around. Not much else will be free until the WSOP exhibition show starts around the time of the main event, and that show has all the freebies you can stand – caps, visors, shirts, spinners, magazines, autographs from pros, etc. Bluff Magazine had an interesting promotion where they would take your picture and put you on a 5 x 7 photo that looked like the cover of their magazine, proclaiming you the winner of the WSOP. Not sure if they will bring that back in 2006.
WHAT TO EAT AND DRINK
There will be a snack bar set up outside the tournament area offering overpriced sandwiches and pizza. Drinks can be found there or in the gift shop next to it. All of the restaurants in the Rio are also overpriced. Even when you buy into a tournament and get a coupon it only pays for half of the $27 buffet. Fact is, when you’re at the WSOP you’re going to pay to eat. Not sure about food in the near vicinity other than a Mexican restaurant at the Palms that has decent prices and good food.
PROBLEMS TO AVOID
There was a serious bathroom shortage in 2005 as there was only one men’s bathroom near the tournament area. Avoid this line by walking 100 yards back toward the casino to a second bathroom. I believe the Rio is planning to set up some portable toilets somewhere near the tournament area if you’re not too discriminating.
There can also be some really long lines for tournament registration if you wait around until close to the time of the event. If you have the money already, pre-register online. If you have to sign up on site, do it when the lines are short, like really early in the morning or in the afternoon.
OTHER POKER IN VEGAS
Better than ever with the opening of posh new rooms at Caesars Palace and The Venetian. Best rooms in town include those two, Wynn, Bellagio and Mirage. MGM has a pretty nice room but not a wide selection of games. Higher limits can be found at the rest. Some friends of mine watched a $400-$800 razz game at Caesars over Memorial Day weekend that included Shawn Sheikhan and Eskimo Clark.
There are more tournaments than I can possibly list. Pick up an issue of Card Player for a comprehensive listing of the plethora of daily offerings. The biggest daily tournaments are at the Bellagio, Wynn and Mirage, with buy ins from $300 to $1,000 on many days. I like playing the $100 tournaments down at Binion’s and the Plaza (especially since I won one at Binion’s last summer for $3,300 and change).
As for other major tournaments, the Bellagio will hold the Bellagio Cup tournament again this summer from July 24-Aug. 10. All events are NLHE with $1,000 buy-ins running twice a day until Aug. 7, when the $10K main event begins.
The Orleans will host the Orleans Open from July 1-16. This event will feature a variety of poker disciplines with buy-ins starting at $300.
Last year, the Palms held a summer tournament and the Plaza had the Ultimate Poker Challenge, but I don’t believe either one is having those events this year to coincide with the WSOP.