Panic not. The countdown to the 2011 World Series of Poker indicates two months to the start of the festivities, and the entire series runs for well over a month. So while the situation is not dire, it certainly is time to start looking at accommodations for your summer stay.
The WSOP itself is held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino - actually in the Convention Center. The Rio has varying rates for its rooms, which have been advertised during the off-season for as low as $40 per night but cost several hundred dollars in the popular summer months. The convenience of staying at the same location, which is incidentally off the Strip, attracts many players, as does the WSOP rate that can be used for a discount. In order to get those rates, one must be a Total Rewards member - a free service to accumulate points and discounts - and buy in to a WSOP tournament via the online registration process. The buy-in receipt serves as proof of player status, and lower rates will be given. There is also a link on WSOP.com to book those special rates at the Rio or any affiliated property.
Rio Pros: Discounted rooms. One-stop shopping for rooms, food, and gaming.
Rio Cons: Everything in one place gives little reason to see the sun or breathe fresh air.
Speaking of co-properties, the Rio is part of the Caesars Entertainment family, as are these other casino/hotels: Paris, Bally’s, Harrah’s, Flamingo, Caesars Palace, Planet Hollywood, and Imperial Palace. The benefit of the conglomerate is that the special WSOP rate is good at any one of the properties, and all except the Rio are on the main Las Vegas Strip. However, there are only free shuttles from the Rio to Bally’s, Paris, and Harrah’s, and those shuttles pick up and drop off at the front of the Rio near the Carnival World Buffet - the opposite end of the building from the WSOP area - from 10am to 1am every day of the week, approximately every 30 minutes. Since those other properties offer rooms that are typically a fair amount cheaper than the Rio, the shuttle becomes a viable transportation option to save on cab fare as well as hotel costs.
Caesars Properties Pros: Discounted rooms. Free shuttle from some locations.
Caesars Properties Cons: At the mercy of shuttles and cabs to Rio.
Although the Rio is on Flamingo Road and not on the Strip, there is one hotel directly next to it called the Gold Coast. It is one of the older Las Vegas hotel/casinos, but the lack of glitz and glamour makes it a cheaper alternative to the Rio and its sister properties. The walk from the Gold Coast to the Rio takes only a few minutes, but that is to the front of the Rio and still requires a walk through the casino and to the rear of the Convention Center. The walk does allow the opportunity to get rid of a few of those buffet calories, but keep in mind that the temperature often reaches 100+ degrees during the summer days, and the walk across the street in the middle of the night should be done with a fair amount of caution and not alone if carrying a purse. The area is patrolled, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Thus, the Gold Coast is a great option if traveling with a friend, as it not only provides cheap rooms but cheaper food options like T.G.I. Friday’s, a small café, and some of the best Chinese food in town. And they have a sizeable bowling alley.
Gold Coast Pros: Cheap rooms, cheap eats, walking distance from Rio.
Gold Coast Cons: At the mercy of weather. Walking alone to Rio at night not advised.
The Gold Coast also has sister properties as a benefit of being in the Boyd Gaming family, and one of the closest is the Orleans. Though it is located on Tropicana and not within walking distance of the Gold Coast or the Rio, the Orleans is connected to the Gold Coast by a free shuttle. That transportation runs every day of the week from 9am to 1am, and picks up at 30-45 minute intervals during that time. This makes the bigger Orleans an option if the Gold Coast is short on rooms, which it can be during the summer months.
Orleans Pros: Cheap rooms, cheap eats. Free shuttle to the Gold Coast.
Orleans Cons: Solid distance from Rio & Strip. At the mercy of shuttles and cabs.
For those looking for a little more independence, there is the Extended Stay facility down Valley View Road, the cross street at Flamingo where the Rio is located. The Extended Stay is by no means a luxury accommodation for travelers seeking the finest in hotels, but it does offer long-term rates, as well as kitchenettes, a laundry room, and a small pool. Keep in mind, though, that the Extended Stay is a bit of a trek, especially in the Vegas heat where two blocks can feel like a mile, and definitely not recommended for anyone walking alone or with a purse at night. But for those with a car, it is an especially short ride to the Rio and offers a cheaper option than most Strip hotels.
Extended Stay Pros: Cheap rooms. Kitchenette. Laundry room.
Extended Stay Cons: Scary walk to the Rio & Strip. At the mercy of cabs and hot walks.
And there are more options. Any hotel/casino along the Strip is at your disposal, as there are cabs lined up at the entrances to take you to the Rio at any time of the day and night, and there will be a cab station set up in the rear of the Rio, at the WSOP-Convention Center entrance, for convenience. Check the various hotels for the best deals, as well as specialty Vegas websites that will list all options by price, location, and amenities to give comparisons.
For those looking for longer stays and presumably have access to a vehicle of some kind, there are homes, apartments, and condos across the greater Las Vegas area for rent. Many players find one- or two-month rental specials through brokers or agents, and there is now a new service specifically for WSOP visitors called SuitedCribs.com to cater to your specific needs. These rentals are best for groups of people willing to share accommodations and vehicles, but they can be a refreshing getaway if a longer stay is in order during the WSOP.
No matter where you choose to stay in Las Vegas, it is recommended that the search begin now. Rooms at the Rio and the Gold Coast, for example, book quickly as the WSOP nears, and other hotels will run out of rooms as well depending on conventions and other special weekends. Book soon to secure your reservations.
Next month, we’ll be ever so close to the start of the WSOP, and it will be time to look at some of the big do’s and don’ts of the WSOP, lessons learned by seasoned veterans, and tips that can save money. Any specific questions can be emailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See also: Three Months to WSOP: So Many Opportunities!