The following story is based on true events.
This is my third year covering the WSOP. During that time, I've gotten so used to the noises, smells and antics of the WSOP, it'd be alien to see the Rio without it.
So, from 8pm to 9pm on Thursday, I traversed the Rio with a fresh set of eyes.
If you've never been here, your first time might go like this:
When you reach the main entrance, you'll encounter a group of stragglers hanging around outside the doors.
They're either players on break, recent bustouts or humans in need of a gulp of desert air before returning to the WSOP bubble. You'll hear one player jabbering in excitement over the phone while another is slouched on the floor smoking a cigarette, cursing himself for making "that" call.
When you break through the desert doors, you'll be greeted by an atrium of WSOP merchandise. These overpriced hats and hoodies give occasional warmth, but ultimately, they'll serve as a reminder: I was there.
The next step is the Pavilion Room. You don't walk into it, it envelops you. The different lighting, smells and sounds wash over you as if you'd jumped into a pool.
It's also massive, larger than any room should be. Its size is an affront to most deities and anything larger is an act of hubris.
On the left, there's a yellow section 4 tables wide and 8 tables deep. The right side holds an even bigger section, the green section.
Here, rows are 15 tables long and 6 deep. Everything from high-stakes NLHE, PLO 2-7 TD and whatever-game-you-can-get-your-tablemates-to-agree-on is being played.
Then you're greeted by the black and white sections. Currently, the black section is empty while the white is hosting what remains of the $185 Deepstack tournament.
If you keep walking straight, you'll see a stage decorated with a feature table and a wall with bracelets.
Every bracelet being awarded this year is on display there. By the end of this thing, none will remain and pictures of their new owners will take their place.
The next step is the WSOP hallway. Here, everything from oxygen to books are being sold to enthusiastic players and tourists.
Behind them is the Poker Kitchen, but you don't want to go there.
The next room is the Brasilia room. This love child of the Amazon and Pavilion room is being used for the first time since 2009.
It's a relatively small four-section room that hosts Day 1s. Currently, the $1,500 NLHE 6-Handed event is playing out there. Only 384 of the original 1,604 players remain.
When you walk out and make your way towards the Amazon room, there's a number of curious hallways and doors with dealers and maintenance people popping out every minute.
The Amazon room didn't have much energy at 8:45pm today. The legendary room only had one tournament at that time, the $1,500 NLHE Shootout. The $5,000 Stud Hi-Low was also being played, but players were on their dinner break.
Most of the excitement happened earlier today. A horde of fans came in to watch the final day of the $10K Heads-Up Championship and other events
Now though, the glorious mothership stage is quiet.
Well-lit, but quiet.
This blue and red-hued monstrosity -- sponsored by Southern Comfort and Jack Links Beef Jerky -- isn't sleeping, it's waiting.
Soon enough, it'll be packed. Poker players and fans will overflow it, engrossed in the newest bracelet battle.
But today, it's quiet.
Don't be fooled though, there's always a storm brewing in the Amazon.