The economy may be suspect, but it didn't stop 6,844 players from putting up $10,000 apiece to play in this year's World Series of Poker main event at the Rio. The total outpaces last year's 6,358 (a 7 percent increase) but doesn't approach the 2006 record of 8,773. Of about 2,000 players remaining, a devilish 666 will win prize money this year, including a cool $9,119,517 to the winner. The tournament will play through tomorrow, when the final nine players will be determined. That table won't be contested, however, until November.
DRINK DEALS: Silverton is offering $1 bottled beer at all bars, 24/7 in July, as well as $1 tequila shots at Mi Casa Grill Cantina from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays. You can also get $1 bottled beer at all bars at Fiesta Rancho and at Casino Royale at center Strip.
POOLS PALE: Although the Las Vegas pool-party scene is busier than ever, the competition has taken its toll. Pool parties have been discontinued at the Sahara, Terrible's, Treasure Island, and Voodoo Beach at the Rio. Don't worry, a dozen parties still remain (including Sapphire at the Rio), with at least one taking place every day of the week. Get a detailed list of days and times at the Web address at the bottom of this column.
SUSHI ALTERNATIVE: The noncasino Japanese restaurant Ichiza serves good sushi, but it also has more than 200 other items — including exotic dishes such as chicken-gizzard and beef-tongue skewers, okra with natto (fermented soybeans,) and squid soft-bone fritter noodles — none of which costs more than $10 (with many items in the $1.50-$4.50 range). It's at 4355 Spring Mountain Road, just west of the Chinatown Plaza.
Q. Has the promised Komodo dragon taken residence at Shark Reef?
A. The adult Komodo dragon is there — all 7 feet and 87 pounds of him. The rare reptile can live to 50, so it plans to be at Mandalay Bay's Shark Reef for some time to come. One drawback: The dragon came with a $1 price increase for tickets, which are now $14 for locals and $17 for guests.
For information about Las Vegas shows, buffets, coupons and deals, see www.LasVegasAdvisor.com.