Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, players and playettes! Let's be honest, I made up the last one, but the point stands – the World Series of Poker is upon us no matter who you are! Although it's going to be live and back to the summer months, it can't be said that this will be the first normal WSOP in years as it is shifting locations from the Rio to the newly christened Horseshoe (formerly Ballys). Whether you are a weekend warrior coming in for a one-off tournament or a battle-hardened veteran, it's important to prepare for the Series and make it your best chance to come home with a bracelet.
This year's WSOP will be hosted at the Horseshoe for the first time, so all of the old tips and tricks of parking and getting to the tournament area go out the window, and it's on each intrepid adventurer to find their own life hacks. The hotel is adjacent to Paris and right across the street from Bellagio and a short jaunt away from Aria; personally, I'll be showing up a day or two early and scoping out the area, seeing what food is available on site as well as within a short walk. Find what works for you, whether it's high-end chef-curated nibbles such as Din Tai Fung at Aria and a full course Omakase at Zuma located in Cosmo or the fast and tasty Chick-Fil-A right outside Planet Hollywood's front doors. Spend the time beforehand to help save yourself wandering the halls on dinner break, not knowing where to go.
Typically, I've come to Vegas for the entire Series, and in years past, I've moved around town every few days bouncing from whatever hotel is cheapest; it's probably affected my bottom line more than I realise, as my sleep has been absolutely abysmal and I look like a walking zombie by week 4. This year would have been different even had I not moved back to Vegas, but thankfully it worked itself out, and I'll be getting a full night's rest this year! But that's me, and you're different on sleep, food, the party life, socialising, everything!
If you work better on 10 hours of sleep every night, I'd recommend booking one hotel and not bouncing around; if being a part of the scene is the most important thing for your social life and helps you function, then talk with your friends and see where the parties will be happening and consider getting a party pad together during the Series, so you're always a part of the action. Ultimately know what works best for you to help maximise performance and actually execute it this year so you can execute at the tables.
It's summertime, it's the World Series of Poker, it's glitz and glamour and shiny bracelets… but what if there was more happening around town? The price point for the WSOP has been lowered in recent years, but it is still the highest buy-ins around town, and there are plenty of other poker rooms that present different tournament options. Check out the Wynn for some of the best-run tournaments you'll find in the entire world (really, truly, they are that good), head over to Aria for consistent and continuous action, or maybe check out the Mixed Game Festival being hosted at Resorts World from June 12-16th. No matter what you want to check out, be sure to check out Kenny Hallert's Twitter (@SpaceyFCB) – his pinned tweet is a poker schedule of every tournament happening in Vegas this summer. Whatever your cup of tea is, you can filter it down to that specific type, so it's a great time saver. If Twitter isn't your thing, check out the tried-and-true method of Cardplayer.com's tournament tab to look at every tournament series by date and month and filter it yourself by the manual hand jam method. Just be sure to look around and check out the great resources available to you!
I always recommend that you treat your time at the WSOP akin to an athlete: train away from the table and implement when you're in play. Get your fundamentals down, achieve what you want your baseline strategy to be and don't deviate without a significant reason. If you are playing day after day and hear about a new concept, then write it down and put it in your memory bank for later. The Series isn't the time or place to be trying to learn new material and master it.
Before you head out, remember that you have to be able to afford your dreams; otherwise, they'll remain in the clouds. If you have a short bankroll but high aspirations of tournament glory, it's wise to realise this beforehand and plan on either playing satellites to get in on the cheap or playing some cash games to help stretch your rubber band a little tighter. The worst thing you can do is show up for a week in Vegas with only one entry and be busted within the first two hours of your journey with nothing to do for the following six days of misery. The larger your bankroll is in relation to your hopes and dreams, the easier it is to enjoy your time in Vegas and maximise your opportunity of going home with the bracelet.
Come prepared for a long day at the tables, and if you start a tournament at the beginning and make it to the next day, you're in for an 11-hour day. Most tournaments are three days long, while some go the distance and are over a week. Make sure you bring the essentials with you. Just a few items you'll typically find in my bag that make all the difference:
Whatever you need, it's nice to have it easily accessible, so you don't have to bum off your table-mates.
Remember that the while the World Series of Poker can be intimidating. If it's your first time, it's still just poker. A handful of players, one dealer, 52 cards, little clay chips. It's the same game you've been playing all your life, and that doesn't change just because of the buy-in. Show up to test your skills against the best in the game, prove yourself to the poker world, and have fun and catch up with friends while enjoying everything Vegas has to offer.
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