USPoker was given access to the Rio Convention Center to check out the progress of the World Series of Poker’s preparations on Saturday, May 24.
It is clear that getting the convention center ready for the WSOP is a massive task. Dozens of workers were on the job setting up poker tables, placing banners on the walls, setting up cashier cages, and the featured table stages. Each employee was working hard to make sure everything is ready for the May 27 launch.
While this is the 45th year for the WSOP, it is the 10th consecutive at Rio. The Main Event’s first prize will be $10 million. This is promoted in many places throughout Rio. Players that arrive through the Convention Center parking lot are welcomed by this:
The two public entrances to the Rio Convention Center are roped off. A sign at both entrances states that only employees may enter the area. You cannot see them in the images below, but there are two security guards in the Pavilion atrium. If you go past the ropes hoping to poke around you will be stopped and kicked out. I was challenged multiple times by employees that wanted to make sure I had permission to be in the area.
We first stopped by the Pavilion room. This is where satellites, cash games, and many events will be played. The room was almost completely finished. Virtually all the tables were setup. Dealer chairs were placed at tables. Player seats still needed to be added.
The table felts are new and promote Rio’s 10th anniversary of hosting the WSOP, as well as WSOP.com, the real money poker site available to players in Nevada and New Jersey.
The Pavilion Room has banners at the top of each wall. Many remind players about WSOP.com’s satellites and bonus offers.
One employee that stopped us to make sure we were allowed to be in the area told us that the “Grind Room”, where players will be able to access WSOP.com through laptops and wireless connections, will be located on the stage in the Pavilion Room. This would give players the feeling of being in the WSOP environment without playing at the live tables.
Just imagine hearing chips from the live games while playing online poker. This sounds like a great location for it. The image to the left is the stage.
The router for the WSOP wireless network is strong. We were able to receive it at full bars all throughout the convention center and even towards the casino floor.
Our next stop was the Brasilia Room. The tables were laid out. Many still needed felts. It needed a lot more work to complete than the Pavilion Room did. The stage where bracelets are presented appears to be in this room. There are 67 holders on the wall where it seems the pictures of bracelet winners will be displayed. I did not want to bother the busy workers to ask. The images below were taken in the Brasilia Room.
Our last stop was the Amazon Room. This area was a few steps behind the Brasilia Room in terms of progress. What appeared to be last year’s felts were being removed from tables with the new felts being added. This is also where the ESPN featured tables will be. The set was still being assembled during our visit.
Here is a look at the ESPN stage while under construction:
There were banners from several sponsors that were hanging from the ceiling. I found the one pictured to the left to be the most interesting. I never thought I would see the day that a U.S. online poker ewallet would be advertised at the WSOP. I think that shows just how far the regulation of online poker has come.
Neteller is a deposit option for WSOP in Nevada and New Jersey.
One other interesting feature we found just outside the Amazon room is a set of televisions that simultaneously show WSOP footage from past years. There are nine TVs that are each dedicated to a specific year in Rio’s WSOP history. The image to the bottom right is a stack of WSOP.com advertising blocks advertising promotions and bonus offers.
We would like to thank the World Series of Poker and Rio for allowing us access to the convention center to take these pictures. From what we saw, it looks like the 10th year at Rio will be the best yet.
Photographer credit: Kristina Mehaffey