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World Series Relief

Entrants in the 2006 World Series of Poker will be "relieved" to learn long lines outside the men's washrooms during breaks are history, as is the cardboard and plastic food sold in the lobby next to the card room. So are the smoke-filled hallways and those 18-hour days at the tables that taxed the patience of players, staff and media alike. These are just a few of the major changes the Rio plans for this year's event, which is slated to run June 25 through Aug. 10 at the Harrah's-owned property located on Flamingo Road a few blocks west of the Strip.

"We're getting ready," said Tournament Director Robert Daily, who already is in daylong meetings almost everyday. "There are so many things to consider . surveillance, security, crowd control, restroom traffic, the dealers' room . that we pretty much have to have meetings everyday to be ready.

"This has become a year-long effort. "What we did right in '05 we're going to keep and what we did wrong we're going to fix." One thing players won't have to encounter in 2006 is block-long lines outside men's rooms at break times, which will be staggered. Portable potties will be set up outside the card room for when nature calls. "You can't even call them porta-potties," Daily observed. "They're air-conditioned and carpeted.

" Instead of a food concessions stand set up in a hallway outside the playing room, the Rio will have an actual cafe in an adjacent area where people can sit, be waited on and order off a menu. Smoking will not be allowed in hallways and a special area will be designated for cigarette puffers. Media facilities also are being moved. The big No-Limit Texas Hold'Em competition, the main event, will take place July 28 through Aug. 10.

The WSOP will offer 44 separate events at which players have the opportunity to win coveted gold bracelets; buy-ins range from $1,500 to $10,000, with events being spread over several days. "We'll bring the players in at noon and let them play until about midnight, then bring them back the next day," Daily said, noting the change will help staffers as well as participants. Also, the number of tables has been increased from 200 to 208. Last year's WSOP attracted a record 32,341 contestants who competed for $106 million in prize money.

The big winner was Australian Joseph Hachem, who took first place in the No-Limit Texas Hold'Em, earning a record $7.5 million. That event attracted 5,619 entrants last year, easily another standard. This year, the Rio is preparing for 8,000 anticipated entrants and will be prepared to accommodate as many as 9,000. "We're still working to establish a prize structure, which depends, of course, on the exact number of entrants, but we'll be shooting for a first prize of approximately $10 million," Daily said.

"Last year we made millionaires of everyone at the Final Table. "Our goal is to create as many millionaires as possible. "This year maybe it will be 12, or even further down the line." Las Vegan Jennifer Harman and five others are members of an advisory committee that already has met with Daily several times. "A lot of initial stuff was the obvious, like the restrooms and food, the things we knew about and suspected," Daily noted.

"But these are respectable, top professionals who have other suggestions." Daily was the tournament's manager in 2005; he has the same job, but now it comes with a bigger paycheck, new title and longer hours. "I'm a hard man to get ahold of because, well, I'm a hard man to get ahold of," the amicable Daily said. The Poker Lifestyle Show will return to the Rio in 2006 from July 27 through 30. .

By: Lynda Collins



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