The biggest action in the Rio poker room has been in the form of its smallest game -- $2/$5 no-limit hold'em. The waiting list holds at more than 20 deep throughout the day, but with 19 tables running and lots of all-in action, it doesn't take long to get a seat.
The big games -- $25/$50 no-limit, and $100/$200 limit or bigger-- are just starting to get some "teeth." They've seemed a little slow despite of, or perhaps because of, the new high-limit pit, positioned in the dead center of the cash game area and separated by a waist-high wall. The purpose of this wall is to give some breathing room to the big pros pushing around big stacks. But it's still pretty hard to move around inside that area amid all the masseuses.
It will be interesting to see how the action develops this week. So, far not too many recognizable tournament pros have made it over to these games. 2003 World Champ Chris Moneymaker seemed to be grinding at a $100/$200 table for the first couple days - he was hunched over, eyes on the felt, not whooping it up and schmingling with the fans. And 2004 main event winner Greg Raymer was seen cashing out with $6,000 - "about even," according to one of his opponents - in a $100/$200 game of BOT.
Yeah, I had to ask, too. It's a revolving mixed game - Badugi, Omaha, and Triple-Draw.
One of the more popular non-hold'em games this year seems to be Chinese poker. Can Kim Hua played it for at least a little while almost every day. And Men "the Master" Nguyen also couldn't resist testing his ability to play "perfect Chinese" for $100 a point.
So where are all the other high-stakes pros? They're in Las Vegas for the World Series, but when not in tournaments at the Rio seem to be playing in bigger games elsewhere on The Strip - or perhaps just games with more comfortable seating and the ability to enjoy a drink without having it poured into a Milwaukee's Best Light beer cup.
The cash-game talk of the town last week was all about Brian Townsend against Sammy Farha at Bellagio. Townsend was last reported to be up almost $2 million, as the furrow on Farha's face suggested at least one old-time gambler might be wondering if he is losing his edge. Meanwhile, over at the Venetian, 2006 WSOP champion Jamie Gold was playing a shorthanded game not in the back room, but in the "back back" room.