Celebrity preview: Four days of UFC, WSOP, LeBron James, Foster the People, Tiesto, ‘Housewives’
Thu, Jul 5, 2012 (6 p.m.)
Photo: Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun
Two giant poker events this weekend bring the 43rd Annual World Series of Poker to a close. What started out with six players in 1970 has turned into the game’s grandest spectacle, with more than 75,000 entrants competing for more than $192 million and the sport’s most prized possession: a WSOP bracelet.
This year in front of ESPN cameras, there will have been 61 tournaments with buy-ins of $500 to $1 million. An astounding 480 poker tables are set up in 125,000 square feet of ballroom space at the Rio with poker players from 105 nations. Pius Heinz of Cologne, Germany, who won $8,715,638 last year in the Main Event, returns to defend his championship.
Registration is strong for the Main Event, with 6,500 to 7,500 expected to sign in by close Monday at 8 p.m. Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari, who won the record-smashing $18 million first-place prize Tuesday in Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberte’s Big One for One Drop, plays to add $9 million to his week’s work.
Ray Romano, Georges St. Pierre, Roberto Luongo and my pal Jennifer Tilly are confirmed to play the Main Event. This year, Kevin Pollak will be playing and video blogging for new website HollywoodPoker.com.
Ahead of that action, a new David and Goliath rages starting Friday. The National Championship features the Top 100 qualifiers from the WSOP Circuit season. There is no entry fee, as Caesars Entertainment posts the initial $1 million prize. In a twist for ESPN cameras, the Top 100 players from the past two years of WSOP play may buy-in for $10,000 each -- all added to the prize pool -- so as many as 200 players will compete for $2 million.
It looks as if the stars of MMA and UFC will have taken over Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood tonight through Sunday with UFC’s International Fight Week of meet-and-greets and parties headlined with Saturday’s huge second war between middleweight title rivals Anderson Silva and Chael Sonnen billed as “the biggest UFC event of the year” at MGM Grand Garden Arena; check out Las Vegas Sun Sports colleague Case Keefer’s analysis of UFC 148. Win or lose, Chael host his after-party at nearby Tabu Ultra Lounge, while B.J. Penn hosts there Friday.
Over at the Thomas & Mack Center, Team USA basketball stars are already practicing for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Expect to see Kobe Bryant, LeBron James (hosting at Tao on Saturday, too), Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler and Deron Williams among the final 12 named here as America’s Army on Saturday at 4 p.m. Next Thursday, Team USA plays the Dominican Republic. Coverage of the Olympic basketball games begins July 27 on NBC. (Incidentally, the NBA Summer League begins here July 13.)
In addition to WSOP, MMA and NBA stars, Hollywood celebrities are here for a four-day Independence Day celebration weekend complete with a Strip fireworks extravaganza at Caesars Palace. In town: Jay Leno and Fabolous at the Mirage; Gretchen Rossi of “The Real Housewives of Orange County” at Krave (check back for our interview wit her); and music choices including Foster the People, Rev. Horton Heat, Lil Jon, Tiesto, Avicii and B.o.B.
We’ve wrapped a red, white and blue ribbon around all the fireworks as we shuffle up another star-studded four-day Royal Robin Rundown, which even includes the feminine fisticuffs of roller derby at the Riviera!
THURSDAY, JULY 5
Comedy is king and queen with Robert Duchaine at Sammy Hagar’s Cabo Wabo Cantina all weekend; Aisha Tyler at Empire Comedy in the Paris for three nights; and Jody Ferdig and Penny the Prince at the Orleans through Sunday.
OF SPECIAL NOTE
UFC 148 Silva vs. Sonnen II open workouts are at XS in Steve Wynn’s Encore; Octagon Nation Truck is at Fremont Street Experience and Octagon Girls and UFC fighters party poolside at the Palms; and the “almost blindfolded, very dimly lit” Eclipse Dark Dining Experience is a fundraiser for our Ronald McDonald House at the Artisan.
UFC legend Chuck Liddell and ring girl Arianny Celeste host at the Palms; Dirt Nasty and Beardo are at Haze in Aria; Paul Wall is at Vanity in the Hard Rock Hotel; Robbie Rivera and Juicy Vegas are at Surrender in the Encore; and Derrick Anthony and DJ Ammo are at Tryst in the Wynn.
FRIDAY, JULY 6
Chris Botti, the world’s biggest-selling jazz instrumentalist, is at The Smith Center for the Performing Arts; CTA featuring Chicago founding member and drummer Danny Seraphine is at Smith Center for two nights; Clint Holmes’ “This Thing Called Love” is at Cabaret Jazz all weekend; Rev. Horton Heat and four other bands are at House of Blues in Mandalay Bay.
Plus, the Oak Ridge Boys are at Golden Nugget for two nights; Nashville Unplugged featuring Phillip White and Liz Rose are at Green Valley Ranch celebrates its third anniversary with expanded shows and a new weekly radio show on 102.7 FM; and c“Vinyl” stars Domenick Allen (Foreigner) and Denny Laine (Moody Blues, Wings) at LVH.
The jokes are on Carlos Mencia at Treasure Island, Seth Myers at the Mirage and Ralphie May at South Point.
OF SPECIAL NOTE
It’s First Friday downtown with the “Creative Freedom” celebration with a Freedom Wall, painting lessons and yoga classes as part of the monthly tarts, culture, music and food festival; Festibrawl featuring food trucks, music by Sin City Sinners and the flyweight amateur fighting championship is at South Point; and Kids Artistic Revue celebrates 30 years with a benefit for Music Saves Lives and Keep a Breast Foundation with stars from “So You Think You Can Dance,” “America’s Got Talent” and “America’s Best Dance Crew” at the 2012 Dance Awards at MGM Grand.
Also, Marvin Sonsona and Orlando Cruz battle at the Joint in the Hard Rock Hotel; Pink Floyd Laser Spectacular is at Henderson Pavilion; and UFC’s Fight Week continues with the Fan Expo at Mandalay Bay, Octagon Nation Truck at FSE, weigh-ins for Anderson and Chael at Mandalay Bay, and Rich Franklin, Chan Sung Jung and Invicta fighters Jill and Jocelyn Lybarger make back-to-back appearances at Fight Shop in Miracle Mile.
Blonde bombshell Gretchen Rossi is at Krave; Sex Panther is poolside at the Palms; Steve Aoki is at Surrender; MTV’s “Fantasy Factory” reality star Rob Dyrdek celebrates his birthday at the Bank in the Bellagio; B.J. Penn hosts at Tabu; and Dominick Cruz hosts at Vanity.
SATURDAY, JULY 7
Foreigner is at Sunset Station; Pedro Fernandez is at Terrible’s Casino in Primm; the continuing free Rock of Vegas concert series at FSE features Asia with John Payne; the Temptations are at the Orleans for two nights; and 40 oz. to Freedom is at Hard Rock Cafe on the Strip.
OF SPECIAL NOTE
The Las Vegas Chocolate Festival & Pastry Show at the Venetian searches for the U.S. and world champion chocolate chefs, master chocolatiers and pastry chefs with yours truly kicking off the fun and contests; chef Michel Richard hosts his Great American Cookout at Central 24/7 at Caesars Palace, and his BBQ patio is perfect for watching Caesars’ fireworks; the Sin City Roller Girls compete in roller derby at the Riviera’s Royale Pavilion; and the UFC Fan Expo continues at Mandalay Bay.
Singer-songwriter and boyfriend of Jordin Sparks Jason Derulo is at Venus Pool Club by day and Pure by night, both at Caesars; AMP presents the official MMA after-party at Moorea Beach Club with Urijah Faber, Chad Mendes and Joseph Benavides; Dominick Cruz hosts a UFC after-party at Tryst; Anderson Silva hosts at Vanity; Chael hosts at Tabu; Chuck Liddell launches his collection Headrush at LAX in the Luxor; Tiesto spins at Encore; Lil Jon is at Surrender; Fabolous is at Haze; and Dave Fogg and Mike Carbonell are at Tryst.
Also, Grammy-nominated rapper B.o.B is at Hyde; NBA champion LeBron James hosts at Tao; Grammy-nominated Foster the People are at Boulevard Pool at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas; Roger Sanchez is at Palms Pool; and Splitbreed with brothers Kalanio and Taui M’oe are at Chateau Nightclub & Gardens at the Paris.
SUNDAY, JULY 8
MMA fighters Michael Bisping, Muhammed Lawal and Fabricio Werdum are at Fight Shop, and Prince Royce & Intocable are at Mandalay Bay.
DJ Pauly D of “Jersey Shore” celebrates his birthday and DJs at Rehab at the Hard Rock; Avicii headlines at XS; and DJ Vice mans the decks at Wet Republic at MGM Grand.
Our exclusive conversation with “Peepshow” at Planet Hollywood burlesque beauty Holly Madison as she reveals her plans after her final Dec. 30 “Peepshow” appearance, and that includes raising a family! Plus, a roundtable discussion with “Phantom -- the Las Vegas Spectacular” at the Venetian as the four principals celebrate their sixth anniversary and 2,614th show and plan for the Sept. 2 closing.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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