For poker lovers, there’s nothing like your first step into the Amazon Room of the Rio All Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas for a World Series poker event.
Facing some of the most ecstatic moments in poker’s history since the Rio de Janeiro Olympics were first held in 2005, the huge ballroom can be a shocking scene with bright lights of special tables on one side and hundreds of tables on the other. There is a constant squeak of players clicking their chips. When random “All in!” calls from dealers, there is a regular commotion. Banners of the main event winners hang from the rafters, reminding us why every player is chasing poker immortality here every year.
“It’s become one of the more iconic settings in poker,” said Norman Chad, a popular TV color man who has been singing WSOP action since 2005. “For poker fans who have never been here before, I always tell them it’s like a baseball fan walking into Yankee Stadium for the first time. It can stop you in your tracks.”
But despite a memorable 17-year history, Rio is celebrating its final day as the home of World Series poker. Ty Stewart, WSOP’s executive director, confirmed with Casino City on Friday that the WSOP’s announcement of its new home beginning next year will be “very soon.”
According to most reports, the world’s most prestigious competition will travel from Rio, a mile east, to the Las Vegas Strip, where another Caesars entertainment property, such as Valis Las Vegas or Caesars Palace, will be the new venue.
Most of the poker community we spoke to said they were ready to start in Rio, but many also said it would be bittersweet. 바카라
“Rio has become home. It would be hard to imagine not being here,” Stewart said. “We changed the overall vision of the Poker World Series here. We took it from an event about strengths to an event for everyone. We increased our footprint from 20,000 square feet to 200,000 square feet. There were many big moments about the event and brand in Rio, so yeah, I’m nostalgic. I can’t really believe we’re moving forward.”
The WSOP began in 1970 when Johnny Moss beat seven players at the Binions Horschoux in downtown Las Vegas, known today as the Binions Gambling Hall. The event remained downtown until 2005, when Harrah’s Entertainment (now Caesars Entertainment) bought the World Series rights to the Binions Horschoux and poker brands and moved to Rio a year later.
“I missed Vinion a lot and I remember we were only there for two years,” Chad said. “So it took Rio to grow up for you. And grow up against you.”
Yes, Rio definitely has warts. Many players don’t like the food and drink options. The bathroom situation can be heartbreaking during breaks and there have been a lot of complaints that the rooms are outdated.
“I’m definitely ready to move on,” said Jay Farber, who finished second to Ryan Reese at the 2013 WSOP main event and earned $5.17 million in the process. “Please take us on the strip at a nice place with a nice hotel and decent amenities. I have no sentimental feelings about this place at all, other than the fact that I happened to be playing a poker tournament at a table in Rio.”
Still, you can’t claim that some of the most unforgettable moments in the game happened within the walls of Rio. The first main event champion to crown inside Rio was the unforgettable Jamie Gold, who stunned the poker world by surpassing 8,773 contestants in 2016, which remains the biggest field in main event history to this day.
In 2008, much to the disappointment of many in the world of poker, the era began on Nov. 9, and a three-month “pause” was introduced between the final nine players of the main event being decided and the ascension of champions. During Nov. 9, the last table was moved down the hall to the 1,500-seat Penn & Teller Theater, and for those who were there, the electricity generated inside the theater will never be forgotten.