This is a good time of year to review the poker room at the Rio, just before its annual migration. In just a few weeks the Rio poker room will move again to the Amazon Room for the 2007 World Series of Poker. There is a lot of 'Series Speak' this year at the Rio and one of those "poker-ly correct" phrases is to refer to the relocation or moving of the Rio poker room for the Series but never to its "closing". In fact, this year the actual permanent poker room is scheduled as an overflow venue for any of the WSOP events that fill up the Amazon room. But for most of the period from June 1st to July 17th the Rio poker room will live down the long corridor to the convention center within the WSOP maze of 300 tables and while its temporary incarnation will be a lot of fun and see a lot of high limit action; let's talk about the Rio poker room as it exists the other 45 weeks of the year.
For easy access to the Rio poker room, do not use the front entrance to the property off of Flamingo Road. Instead head for the west side of the Rio and enter from Valley View Drive. This will bring you to an often sparsely used parking structure and you will enter the casino right at the poker room. The Rio is another low to middle limit specialty room during its normal operations. The $4/$8 Hold'em game is the standard limit spread, although they prefer a $2/$5 no-limit structure to the common $1/$2 game seen in many other card rooms.
Also unlike other rooms, the Rio manages to keep its cash games going during its two daily tournaments. In fact, the Rio is one of the few rooms where nearly any afternoon you can find the $4/$8 and at least one $2/$5 up and running with a short wait list. You never get the feeling that the staff are waiting for 'just a few more players.' There is nearly always action at the Rio.
The tournaments are what really place the Rio above many of the lower limit rooms in town. Not only are they a bit pricier but the Rio tournaments carry a bonus. At noon there is a NLHE event with a scaled buy-in. $45 will get you 1,000 chips, an extra $15 at the time of your buy-in will get you 1,000 more. So for every player, this is a $60 buy-in event. Then at the table there is an optional Add-On for $40 and 2,000 more chips. As you could guess for most players this is simply a $100 tournament.
The second event of the day is another NLHE tournament at 6 PM. This time the buy-in is $110 (2,000 chips) and $15 cashier bonus buy for another 2,000. Since there is no 'at-the-table' add-on in this structure; everyone considers this a $125 event. In fact, why do they even bother with the $15 bonus? Who doesn't take it?
Speaking of a bonus, here is the Rio's big promotional draw. If you win either of these tournaments or put in 40 hours of live play in the Rio poker room during a single month; then you are entered in a monthly freeroll. The freeroll generally has the 60 or so tournament winners minus tourist winners who cannot come back to Las Vegas for one day and about 30 to 40 more forty hour ring game qualifiers. What makes this freeroll so special is the first prize: a $10K seat in the WSOP Main Event. Is it any wonder that the cash games at the Rio tend to stay full?
Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino
3700 W. Flamingo Road
Las Vegas, NV 89103