Heading to the 2021 WSOP? Here’s What To Expect at the Rio

A view from the Rio during WSOP

The 2021 World Series of Poker schedule is not yet released, but we know September 20 through November 23 are the provisional dates. Many people reading this article will head to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino for the first time. Each of them chasing the dream of winning a WSOP coveted bracelet.

I do not have a WSOP bracelet to my name, but I have reported on the action at the Rio twice. Each stint saw me spend six long weeks cooped up inside the Rio, following all the goings-on from around the table.

Navigating To and Around The Rio

You find the Rio at 3700 W Flamingo Road. Regular shuttle buses from other Caesars properties run throughout the day and night. It is off the main strip, but only a few bucks in a taxi from any of the main Vegas properties.

This may sound silly but pack some warm clothing even though you are in the Nevada desert. Inside the Rio is notoriously cold thanks to overpowering air conditioning. You do not want to sit shivering when you are concentrating on becoming a poker champion!

It is a good idea to pack some snacks and drinks, too. Food and beverages are available while you are playing, but it can be difficult to grab the attention of a waitress. Furthermore, snacks and drinks are relatively expensive, so eat into your bankroll.

The sheer size of the Rio is the first thing you notice when you step through its doors. All the action takes place a short walk away from the casino floor in what is essentially a convention center. Amazon, Brasília, and Pavilion are the names of the rooms.

The start time of your WSOP event dictates which room you play in. Some events, however, are so massive they spill across two and all three rooms sometimes. Do not worry because your receipt is clearly marked with the room, table, and seat number.

Taking Your Seat in a WSOP Event at the Rio

We are not exaggerating when we say all three rooms at the Rio are enormous. Tables stretch as far as the eye can see; it is a sight to behold. Each room is divided up into different colors to make finding your seat easier. For example, Table 120 Seat 6 may be in the white area, with Table 32 Seat 7 in the yellow. Signs suspended from the ceiling display the colored sections and tables, so you should have no issues finding your seat. Also, there are dozens of helpful dealers and floor staff on hand to assist you.

Take a moment to get your bearings once you find your table and seat. This, hopefully, is your home for a long time! Having so much poker going on around you can be overwhelming. I remember standing open-mouthed at the 300+ tables when I reported on my first WSOP event. It is magical and amazing to be a part of.

How Good Are The Poker Players at the WSOP?

“What is the playing standard like?” was the most popular question I faced after returning home from working at the WSOP. My answer was the same every time: terrible!

We forgive you for thinking the WSOP attracts the game’s elite players because it does. But, the WSOP’s lure is powerful, so strong that rank amateurs from around the world flock to it like moths to flames!

Some save up all year just to play in a single event. Many of these players have never bought into a tournament costing more than $50 before, yet here they are grinding in a $1,500 buy-in event!

Think of it this way. The $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em events attract upwards of 3,000 players. Even if, at a conservative guess, 20% of the field are superstars, that leaves 2,400 recreational players!

The quality of the players increases as the buy-in does, obviously, but there is still value in higher buy-in games. For example, the $10,000 Main Event is one of the softest poker tournaments on the schedule.

Be aware of lesser-played games, such as Seven Card Stud, Dealers Choice, and 2-7 Triple Draw. These specialized formats attract players who are experts in these games. There is a severe lack of fish frequenting them.

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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