Thursday, 7th December 2023 07:45
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It’s not easy to surprise people at the World Series of Poker, but many players and media members alike were taken aback today at the news that a new room had been discovered at the Rio. Not only was it a new room, it was a new room with poker tables in it. For the first time at the WSOP Main Event, they’re playing poker in the bowling alley.

The bowling alley? Yes, the bowling alley. Even some people who have been coming to the Rio for as long as the WSOP has been here didn’t know that this property had a bowling alley. But it’s true: the Lucky Strike Lanes opened in March 2007–and it closed two years later.

Over the next decade, it became part of a Chinese restaurant and then a storeroom, but this year, for the first time, it’s been playing host to the WSOP. Many of us only arrived to Las Vegas for the Main Event, so saw it in action for the first time today, even though organisers said it’s been in use for much of the summer.

The World Series has some fairly strict rules about shooting video footage, but this short clip should give you an idea of where this “new” room is located:

Of course, the reason for it is the ever-swelling size of the tournament fields, including this Main Event. Although nothing will be official for another couple of days, informed persons (read: Kevin Mathers) say we’re at 8,022 now. Last year, there were 7,874 players, so that total is already surpassed. The 8,773 from 2006 is a realistic prospect. Could we really break a 13-year-old record? Quite possibly.


Players are seated in eight locations around the Rio Hotel and Casino today:

Pavilion Room: 226 tables
Amazon Room: 122 tables
Brasilia Room: 92 tables
Miranda Room: 20 tables
Lucky Strike Lanes: 18 tables
Burro Barracho area: 12 tables
Main Poker Room: 12 tables
Brasilia stage: 7 tables

That additional room quickly saw its fair share of excitement. Phil Ivey sat down during level one, immediately to the left of fellow super high roller regular Sam Greenwood. But Ivey was knocked out in less than 30 minutes when his nut flush draw, with A4 missed against Jeffrey Chang’s 109, which had flopped two pair.

That all took place after another player had been unceremoniously escorted from the Brasilia Room after an allegation of cheating. We did not see any of the alleged incident, but staff confirmed a player was ejected and Poker News reported that Georgii Belianin apparently jokingly scooped another player’s chips into his own stack.

“You’re playing the Main Event, you can’t touch other player’s chips,” WSOP tournament direct Jack Effel told Poker News. “He took the chips that were next to him, they didn’t belong to him and you can’t do that when you’re playing the Main Event.”


That was only the first of two disqualifications today. The second came from the Pavilion Room after another player pulled down his pants after moving all-in blind, showing his naked butt to his table-mates. (I can’t believe I’m writing this either.) He then also pulled off his shoes and tossed one on to the table, nearly hitting the dealer.

Videos circulating social media show the mooning and shoe-tossing incident, and another player shared another video with me in which the actions are clear. I also spoke to the player in question shortly before security staff arrived to the table to disqualify him. He confirmed what had happened, and initially thought he would receive a two-round penalty. But he was told that he had forfeited his tournament and his chips were removed from play.

“I had a moment with the room,” the player said. “I just felt the love of everybody.”

With more than 8,000 players, and the pressure rising, stand by for more crazy incidents at the WSOP.

WSOP photography by PokerPhotoArchive

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