In what might be considered a dress rehearsal for the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in June, the Rio All-Suites Casino and Resort last weekend hosted the opening event of the WSOP Circuit Tournament.
Hosted by Harrah’s casinos, the WSOP Circuit is a series of monthly tournaments leading up to the World Series of Poker in June, and a subsequent World Series of Poker championship. Two previous Circuit tournaments were held in Atlantic City and San Diego.
The Rio’s first tournament event, a $1,000 buy-in, No Limit Hold ”˜em game, attracted 379 contestants and generated a prize pool of $367,000.
The event was won by a conventioneer, Dave Taylor, who was in town attending the National Ready Mix Association’s national convention. He cemented his victory with a first place finish that was worth about $114,000.
Taylor said he plays mostly $20-$40 limit hold ’em in charity games back in Ohio, and couldn’t help but notice that the WSOP Circuit was taking place at the Rio.
Rather than spend Saturday afternoon milling around cement mixers and listening to sales pitches, Taylor decided to belly-up and play some tournament poker instead. It turned out to be a prudent decision.
Taylor topped a highly-competitive field of players that included a few poker professionals based in Las Vegas, including Blair Rodman, Sean Habibian and Sammy Schenker.
The final 36 players were paid, in amounts ranging from $1,471 up to $113,965 for first place. For the 35-year-old cement contractor, it was his first-ever tournament victory.
WSOP Circuit action continues at the Rio over the next two weeks, culminating in the $10,000 buy-in championship event, which begins on Sunday, March 20.
The championship event will be televised by ESPN for broadcast later, and will award a seat in the World Series of Poker championship later this summer.