Wednesday, May 27, 2015 | 4:24 p.m.
Fifty days of around-the-clock, high-stakes action is underway for the prestigious 46th Annual World Series of Poker, which began with cards in the air at noon today at the Rio. By the time it’s over, we should see more than $200 million in total prize money awarded.
Las Vegas casino employees had their own $565 buy-in tournament today as the first of the events that will continue through July 14. Eleven events are making their debut. Players from more than 100 countries are expected in record numbers, surpassing last year’s 82,360 card sharks and amateur hopefuls.
It’s the gaming industry’s premiere event when huge crowds by the tens of thousands descend on the Rio to compete for millions in prize money and the coveted WSOP champion’s bracelet — 68 are up for grabs, which is three more than last year.
A new Colossus event with another $565 buy-in starts Friday with a $5 million guaranteed prize pool. It’s expected to be the largest live poker tournament ever and so big with the potential of 20,000 players, there will be four starting flights — two each day at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
It’s expected to run for five days before we have the big-bucks prizewinner. Our Las Vegas Sun Sports colleague Case Keefer took a look today at the next 50 days of play.
The High Roller $111,111 One Drop charity game buy-in that benefits Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte’s water charity will start June 28, followed on June 30 by a Little $1,000 buy-in for One Drop. In the three years since this event began, more than $16 million has been donated to charitable causes.
The grandest spectacle of all in gaming, the Main Event, which attracts all the big-name poker players from around the world, will be the usual $10,000 buy-in, no-limit Texas Hold’Em game won last year by Sweden’s Martin Jacobson, who left town with a $10 million haul.
This year the action starts July 5 until the Final Nine are determined by July 14 with 1,000 players splitting the payouts. Then the November Nine return for the live ESPN and ERSPN broadcasts of the final battle in November.
The annual poker extravaganza, which dates back to 1970, is televised exclusively on ESPN from the Rio, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said: “This is the year. Now more than ever, WSOP has something for everyone. We believe the value and the opportunity for player success exists in each and every event we are offering in 2015.”
Last year, WSOP gold bracelet tournaments set an all-time record for attendance with more than 82,360 entries and more than $227 million in prize money. Total prize money awarded for all the events has surpassed $2 billion. Ty believes this year’s run will beat those astounding numbers.
The players will stretch out at about 450 poker tables from noon to 3 a.m. most days, although some play will commence at 10am.
Jack Effel, WSOP tournament director for the 10th consecutive year, summed up: “We’re going to be breaking records and award life-changing money.”
Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years 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 Sun A&E Senior 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.