WSOP: Good riddance to Rio, hello to Horseshoe?

Kat Martin
Published by:
Posted on 09/17/2021

One of the worst-kept secrets in Las Vegas is that this will be the last year the WSOP is held at the Rio. The news broke largely by accident, when the Valley National 8-Ball League Association (VNEA) informed members their annual championship had been bounced. In a post on Facebook, members of VNEA were told:

“VNEA’s long-term contract with Bally’s Hotel & Casino was suddenly canceled by Bally’s as a result of the World Series Of Poker (WSOP) moving from Rio to the Bally’s/Paris properties in 2022 and beyond.”

No official confirmation of this move has been given by WSOP or Caesars Entertainment.

For many poker players, this news produced a sigh of relief. The Rio is not an attractive property, and the illnesses that plagued WSOP attendees from 2005-19 have been parodied widely.

However, popular Vegas poker pro Matt Hunt took a contrarian view on Twitter:

“WSOP prediction: everyone will say ‘good riddance to the Rio’ when it’s confirmed that the series is leaving, but once we actually experience it somewhere else, we’ll be clamoring for a return to the good old days.”

The main advantage of the Rio over Bally’s (noted by respondents to Matt’s tweet) is that the former has better parking. Even so, many players are only compelled to drive to the Rio because of its off-Strip location.

A return to the Horseshoe?

A recent twist to this story is best appreciated with a little historical context.

For its first three decades, the WSOP was held at the storied Binion’s Horseshoe. When Caesars (then Harrah’s) bought the property, they immediately sold the physical property and Binion’s name to MTR gaming. The only things Caesars retained from the transaction were exclusive rights to the WSOP and Horseshoe brands.

There are now nine Horseshoe casinos in the U.S. owned and/or operated by Caesars Entertainment. Notably, these properties feature WSOP-branded poker rooms that host WSOP Circuit events.

Poker.org has learned that Caesars is planning on rounding up their Horseshoe count to an even ten, by rebranding Bally’s Las Vegas to the Horseshoe Las Vegas. Bally’s currently hosts the WSOP Circuit Series when it swings through Las Vegas, making the move a natural one for branding consistency.

And by name, at least, it would return the WSOP to its original Horseshoe home.

Featured image source: Twitter