Every summer, hundreds, if not thousands of people visit Las Vegas for the first time to join the ranks of newcomers and veterans in the biggest poker festival that is the World Series of Poker.
During June and July, this gambling capital of the world is bursting with excitement and hopes of many who come here to try and make their dreams come true.
For any poker fan and professional alike, World Series of Poker is an experience unlike any other. It’s a month of non-stop poker action with tournaments and cash games for anyone’s bankroll as long as you can afford the trip.
While there is no doubt that the first WSOP will provide you some unforgettable moments even if you don’t win a coveted gold bracelet, these are some tips that should make your stay even more enjoyable and should also help you save some money.
#1 Plan for your WSOP well ahead of time
As I said, things can get really crazy in Vegas during the Series. You may think that you can just “swing it” when you get there, but that (non)plan could easily backfire in a sense that you can’t find a satisfactory accommodation or you end up missing some of your target events.
The WSOP schedule is usually released a few months before the Series starts, so you can circle the events you’d like to play and start making plans for your stay. Figure out the dates as well as your budget. In 2018, the schedule for the WSOP was leaked in late December. Unless you are very rich, you need to put some serious thought into this.
The Sin City offers many temptations to which very few are immune to. Make sure you know how much money you have to spend overall and then distribute it according to expected expenses: tournament buy-ins, living arrangements, other gambling activities, fun, etc.
It may seem a bit boring but it sure beats running out of money midway through your WSOP stay and having to ask people you know to urgently send you some cash.
#2 Accommodation: hotel vs. private arrangements
Figuring out living arrangements for the first time WSOP visitors can be somewhat complicated as you are not really sure what to expect. So, here’s a few pointers to make this decision easier.
If you will be going alone or perhaps with your significant other, it is probably simpler to find a hotel room or suite. As long as you make your reservation well ahead of time, you should be able to get a decent price, especially if you are only planning to stay for a week or so.
Are you staying with a group?
On the other hand, if you will be traveling with a group of your poker playing friends and plan to stay longer, for a couple of weeks or the entire WSOP, you should probably look into renting a house. If there are four or five of you, once you split expenses for the rent, utilities, and food, you should be able to save a decent amount of money when compared to staying at a hotel.
#3 Register for your WSOP events early
There is so much to see in Vegas, and the very last thing you want to do when not playing is to spend hours standing in lines, waiting to register for your selected events. On the day of an event, the lines will usually be horrible, as most players wait for the last moment to register for the tournament. Don’t be one of those players.
You can register for any event at any time during WSOP, and there is even online registration so if you planned ahead, you already know what tournaments you aim to play. Just go and register all of them, unless you are planning to play the full schedule. As long as they are a couple of days apart, you should be fine as you can always unregister if you figure out you won’t be able to play for whatever reason (like playing the WSOP final table).
#4 Bring your A-game but also, have fun
The WSOP experience can be overwhelming, especially for recreational players. If you are in Las Vegas primarily because you want to feel its spirit during the Series than the most important thing is to relax enjoy the ride.
Give yourself a chance to meet new people and don’t be afraid to strike a conversation at the tables. Of course, not everyone will be in the mood, but some people will be more than happy to meet someone new. A poker table is not only a battleground, but it is also a social environment, and this is especially true during the WSOP with its rich history. Many people seem to forget that these days but why would you want to be one of those people?
That said, you also want to bring your A-game if for no other reason so that you can fully enjoy the hours you spend playing. So, try to get to bed at some reasonable time if you know you will be playing tomorrow and don’t overdo it with drinking and partying.
#5 Set aside some time for other activities
Although the WSOP is all about poker and you will be there primarily to play, it would be a shame to miss on other things Las Vegas has to offer. Great night clubs, excellent shows, fine dining, and many other things are at your disposal so make sure you set some time aside for sightseeing and enjoying your stay.
Playing poker for hours day after day may seem like a great idea now, but unless you are a hardened professional, it can quickly wear you out. Arrange your schedule, so you have some days off, reserved for relaxing and having fun. After all, there is always a game going in Vegas so it’s not like you’ll be missing a lot in that regard by taking a night off.
As long as you stick to your budget and give yourself enough time to relax and gather your strength before returning to the felt, your first WSOP experience should be quite memorable. It is a dream of every poker player and it is so for a reason. Nowhere else will you find more poker talent, energy, hopes, and dreams gathered in one place than in Vegas during summer!