This summer, when playing in a World Series of Poker Daily Deepstack event, we got a chance to experience the Rio poker room. While the WSOP is certainly not the time to get a perfect read on the day-to-day operations of the Rio poker room, it did give us some sense of the atmosphere. To round out our review, we did a bit of research to determine the flow of cash and tournament action.
The Rio is about a mile west of the Strip on Flamingo Road. It is part of a small constellation of casinos in the immediate area. The Flamingo is slightly west of the Rio, as is the Palms. The Gold Coast lies right across South Valley View Boulevard. So there are a couple of options within easy walking distance if you want to check out other casinos. The Strip is also theoretically walkable in 20-25 minutes, but beware, it’s a lot longer than it looks.
Parking is free at the Rio. A garage and multiple outdoor lots lie around back near the Conference Center (where most of the WSOP events are held).
The Rio is one of Vegas’s largest casinos off the main Strip. It is part of the massive Caesars Entertainment empire which owns several properties in Vegas, including Planet Hollywood, and many other properties across the United States. It is, of course, a full-service casino (hotel, slots, table games, race & sportsbook, etc.).
The Rio has a buffet of course, but are a bit lean on the high-end restaurants. There are, however, a lot of quick eating and casual options. We recommend the take-out window at Guy Fieri’s El Burro Borracho Restaurant. They also have sit down service, but the reduced menu at the takeout window represents a great value with excellent quality food.It is actually kind of ironic: the host site of the WSOP has a standing poker room that appears to be an afterthought to the rest of the casino.Click To Tweet
The Rio Poker Room Comfort
The 14 table Rio poker room is separated from the casino floor with a glass wall on one side and half walls on the other two sides. There is some space between the room and the gaming floor, so you are not too close to the noise or smoke. Large TVs ring the room.
The ceiling is high and the air quality is good. The tables are pretty tightly packed in this small room and the lighting is dim throughout the room. The felts are in good shape, but had they not been swept recently the day we played. Chips were clean and very new looking. Chairs were comfortable, being adjustable, wheeled, and well padded.
During the WSOP event, several tables sat outside the walls of the poker room. It is not clear how many remain throughout the year. If the claim of 14 tables is accurate, some must remain. Unsurprisingly, it is smokier and louder at those tables, and it feels like you are playing in the aisle of the casino gaming room. Because pretty much, you are.
Poker Room Staff
As we played in a Daily Deepstack that ran in conjunction with the WSOP, the dealers were mostly not regulars. That said, most were solid. The floors, however, ran an excellent tournament. There was a female floor who had the loudest and clearest voice I have heard in any poker room. Every level jump was clearly announced. There was no doubt about who held the authority in the room. Later, when they escorted the group from the Rio poker room to the convention hall for late tournament stages, she guided us like ducklings through the winding hallways beautifully.
Wait staff circulated immediately when the tournament started and seemed very attentive throughout.
Players at the Rio Poker Room
Grade: incomplete. This was a not a normal Rio tournament so not the normal Rio poker population.
The Rio poker room’s standing tournament has a $65 entry fee (with $22 rake -yes, Virginia, an abysmal 34% rate) for 5,000 chips and 20-minute blinds. It offers a $5 staff bonus for another 5,000 chips, so most people likely buy-in for $70, with the functional rake at a potentially record-setting 39%! The tournament guarantee is a whopping $500. This tournament runs four times per day (10am, 1pm, 4pm, and 9pm). This gives the savvy poker tournament player four opportunities to say “No freakin’ way” and find any number of better structures in town. In previous years, we have stopped into the Rio to ask about the tournaments and got the feeling that they rarely go off. Bravo Poker also indicates that tournaments do not run often, and are small when they do.
Cash Game Activity
Bravo reporting indicates that the Rio poker room runs one to two cash tables on a weekday, at best (there were zero some nights), and not too many more on weekends.
Overall Assessment of the Rio Poker Room
The Rio’s claim to fame in the poker world lies in its role as the host of the WSOP. They do a great job with the WSOP, which has become a much anticipated annual pilgrimage for us. The rest of the year, the Rio plays a minor role in the Vegas poker scene. The small room is a bit cramped but otherwise is fairly comfortable. Their volume of cash and tournament play is low to non-existent. The tournament rake is about the worst we’ve ever seen. It is actually kind of ironic: the host site of the WSOP has a standing poker room that appears to be an afterthought to the rest of the casino.
The Rio’s claim to fame in the poker world lies in its role as the host of the WSOP. The rest of the year, the Rio plays a minor role in the Vegas poker scene. The small room is a bit cramped, but otherwise is fairly comfortable. Their volume of cash and tournament play is low to non-existent. The tournament rake is about the worst we’ve ever seen. It is actually kind of ironic: the host site of the WSOP has a standing poker room that appears to be an afterthought to the rest of the casino.