Monday, Nov. 9, 2009 | 12:24 p.m.
Jeff Shulman just concluded a monumental run through the World Series of Poker Main Event.
Shulman, a Las Vegas native and editor of Card Player magazine, finished fifth in the Main Event after outlasting 6,489 players, earning $1.95 million for his finish.
Shulman took time Monday to answer reader questions from lasvegassun.com before the Main Event begins heads-up play at 10 p.m. this evening at the Rio.
Question: What's it like playing on a table with Phil Ivey?
Shulman: The same as it's always been. He's tough. He's good at reading people. If he has position on you, it really changes what you can do. Of course, he had position on me so it affects what hands I play.
Question: Do you and other poker professionals look forward to watching ESPN's broadcasts of the World Series of Poker or do you not get caught up in that?
Shulman: I enjoy watching myself on TV like everyone else does. I enjoyed watching to see who I was going to play against and what these guys are capable of doing. I didn't get a chance to play with all of them. I'm not looking forward to watching tomorrow, because I know what happened and didn't happen. It's going to be hard to watch knowing I lost.
Question: Poker has gotten bigger and bigger over the last five years. What's next for the game?
Shulman: I hope it continues to bigger. I have a feeling if Darvin wins, it could spark a whole lot of people to play. I think it would show literally anyone can win with a little heart. Obviously, I'd also like to see online poker get regulated.
Question: Why don't pros avoid the Main Event as it continually shows luck plays a bigger factor than skill?
Shulman: Because if you're a pro, you think there are a few hundred good players in the world and 6,000 people are in it. There are very few tournaments that give you a chance to get 1,000-times your money. It's a chance at the modern-day lottery.
Question: Now that poker rooms have been smoke-free for so long, do you think casino areas should be non-smoking?
Shulman: First of all, that's a great question, because I went through the whole poker vs. smoking thing. I don't smoke, so I would love it because then I could walk through without it. But a casino, I'd think there's a lot smokers who are big players. The casinos have to cater to their big players, whereas in poker there's not one guy who is making the casino a whole lot of money.
Question: Where's your favorite place to play poker?
Shulman: Bellagio. It's close to my house. I love some other California casinos, too, but Bellagio is right here. It's 15 minutes from my house. It's what I'm comfortable with.
Question: What would you consider your greatest achievement in poker?
Shulman: I would say my greatest achievement in poker is the way I acted at the table. I think anyone who watches can tell how calm I am and how well I handled myself with bad beats.
Question: Lastly, we've got to get your prediction for tonight. Who do you think wins the Main Event: Joe Cada or Darvin Moon?
Shulman: I want Darvin to win. I love the guy. That's nothing against Joe, but he's a super heads-up specialist. So, Joe is probably going to win, but I'm rooting for Darvin.
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.