Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2009 | 2:05 a.m.
Fans chanting “Begs” in support of Steven Begleiter were one of the most constant noises in the Rio poker room as the World Series Main Event played down to nine players in July.
That’s not going to stop when the November Nine re-convene Saturday. In fact, it might be louder because of what’s at stake for Begleiter’s friends.
Begleiter, a former investment banker, played his way into the Main Event by winning the championship in his Chappaqua, N.Y., hometown’s poker league. Twenty percent of whatever he wins in the Main Event will be given to the league and its members.
“It’s great because all my friends would obviously already be rooting for me,” Begleiter, 47, said. “But now, they’re bought into it.”
They can’t complain about where Begleiter is positioned. He’s third in chips, behind Darvin Moon and Eric Buchman.
And he’s proven that getting to this position was no fluke. After making the Main Event final table, Begleiter also placed ninth in September at the World Poker Tour Legends of Poker Tournament in Los Angeles.
“I’ve played poker more than I ever thought I would,” Begleiter said. “I’ve trained in a lot ways that I won’t feel comfortable talking about until after the final table.”
One hand stands out for Begleiter in the Main Event. It was the first day and he was dealt pocket kings — the second best starting hand.
But another player went all-in before the flop and Begleiter folded believing his opponent held pocket aces, Texas Hold ‘Em’s top starting hand.
Begleiter was right and that fold prevented him from being knocked out on the first day.
“That fold was really key to my whole tournament,” Begleiter said.
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.