Rio’s rockin’ with its new poker room

Jan 18, 2005 6:23 AM

BY MARK MAYER

Harrah’s is reaping early benefits from its role as host of the World Series of Poker with the newly expanded poker room at the Rio.

"We felt it was a good time to get started expanding the room," said Michael Matts, lead poker room supervisor at the Rio.

The Rio’s poker room opened Dec. 21 with a Christmas and New Year’s special event and has been an overwhelming success ever since, according to Matts.

"We have a non-smoking, 24-hour room that kicks off daily with a no limit tourney," Matts said. "The tourney starts at noon each day with a $40 buy in. We have one additional buy-in for $40 during the first hour. When the tourney ends, we go into the live games. This formula has worked well for us."

The poker room is located adjacent to the race and sports book making it easy to go from one site to the other for making bets.

"Poker has had such a phenomenal growth and without much advertising," said Dave Pemberton, the Rio’s race and sports book manager. "The poker room is drawing between 40 and 60 players each day. In fact, we had several overflow crowds causing us to add more tables into our book in order to accommodate the players.

With poker rooms seemingly sprouting up around Las Vegas on a weekly basis, Matts believes his customers are drawn to his room because of his staff’s personality.

"Harrah’s provides an upbeat atmosphere to all our poker players," he said. "We have the friendliest staff in town. That’s our No. 1 selling point."