How To Plan For Your First World Series of Poker
It’s your first World Series of Poker (WSOP)- what do you need to know? This article is for players who are relatively new to the WSOP and are not familiar with the entire atmosphere and what to expect. I have been to Las Vegas 8 out of the last 10 years and have stayed at both large poker houses as well as hotels on the strip. I’ve stayed anywhere from 4 days to 6 weeks at a time and have experience with the WSOP. This article highlights all of my thoughts in regards to the biggest considerations for Las Vegas and the WSOP.
Above all, remember your purpose for going to Las Vegas for the WSOP: To make money. The clubs, dinners, bars, and girls are all fun elements in Vegas but ultimately can lead to distraction and detract you from your overall goals. The WSOP is one of the softest cash and MTT events of the year and you should think of it as a business trip.
That’s not to say that you can’t go to clubs or have a nice dinner or go on some dates- far from it. Just remember that you are playing in Las Vegas to profit and to leave with more money than you came with.
This section is going to vary a lot depending on the situation. Vegas is very expensive in general and you can use this as a loose spending guide for what you should expect to spend each day:
Hotel/Stay: $100-$300 each night (cut this in half if you are sharing a room and lower this even more if you are in a poker house with many others)
Food: $50 (normal food days, if going to nice dinners, it will be more like $100)
Entertainment: $100 (This is on the conservative side for most people. That being said, the longer you stay in Vegas, the lower this daily number will be). This includes bars/drinks/shows/clubs/extra food/etc.
Transportation: $25 (Again, this is dependent on where you stay. But $25 seems about right for Ubers and taxis). This number is less if you are staying within walking distance of the casinos.
Extras: $50 a day
Total to budget each day = $425
Notes: This number might seem high and for many, these estimates may be over the top. That being said, you should always assume that you are going to spend more money than you budget for in Las Vegas. The city has an odd way of eating up bankrolls before you know it. In general,
Here is a checklist of things that you should be thinking about before you go:
- How are you transporting your money to the World Series of Poker? For international flights, you have to declare $10,000 < to customs. Be sure to make preparations well in advance. Wiring money to the casinos and trading for U.S. American dollars can help you save with exchange rates.
- Generally, cash, live casino chips, cashier’s check, and credit card (new this year) are the only ways to register for WSOP events. http://www.wsop.com/registration/
- Transportation and location of hotel/house- decide if you are going to rent a car or taxi/uber around (more on this later). Where you stay also matters a lot, as the Las Vegas strip is several miles long and your location will decide whether you take a taxi or walk to your casino destinations.
- Check the TAXES in your country and their policy towards poker winnings. Every country is different and it could be a bad situation for you if you are not well informed on the potential tax problems that you may have.
- Contact as many players as you can that you know are going to the WSOP. The WSOP is a great place to make connections and network. The entire poker industry offers a number of business opportunities (staking, buying action, promotional deals, affiliate deals, and many more) and this is a good time to set meetings and visits.
Scheduling and Time Planning
If you are an MTT player, you’ll likely know what WSOP MTT schedule you are going to be playing. Here is a list of the full WSOP schedule: http://www.wsop.com/tournaments/
Be sure to also check MTT schedules for other casinos: https://www.venetian.com/casino/poker.html
Be sure to carefully mark and plan your trip according to what MTTs you are planning on registering for. If you are a cash game player, try to tailor your WSOP schedule around MTTs that will bring a lot of people in- the Colossus and Millionaire Maker events are both low buy in/ high reward MTTs that will drive cash game action heavily in early June. There are also applications for your phone where you can check the wait lists of different games and the overall spread of tables: Bravo Poker Live and PokerAtlas
The lines are often very long, both to register, go to the bathroom, and cash game waiting lists. Being as prepared as you can will help you save time, energy, and lower your stress level for the tournaments. Be sure to PRE-REGISTER as early as you can for your tournaments and you can do this online.
Hotels or Poker House?
As a general rule of thumb, it is generally better to go with poker house for longer stays (2 weeks <) and hotels for shorter stays (2 weeks >). Here are some pros and cons for both:
To look for Hotels, just use different travel booking sites (Kayak). You can occasionally find good deals with different promotions as well, where you get x amount of days + a flight for a cheaper deal (rather than booking separately). In summary, both poker houses and hotels have their pros and cons. Houses can be excellent for long term stays, both in terms of cost and overall schedule stability. If you like having structured lifestyle (with exercise, home cooked meals, etc)where you can have more down time and many days to relax, a poker house is a good option. Hotels are more for players who want to make the absolute most of their time (in terms of playing, restaurants, and the entire Vegas experience).
Hotels with good central locations: Aria (expensive, modern), Cosmopolitan (expensive, modern) and Planet Hollywood (medium price) .
Hotels for more budget prices: The Flamingo, Luxor, Treasure Island, and the Linq.
Hotels near the RIO: The Palms and Gold Coast are two slightly cheaper options. Anything slightly off the strip will also provide you with excellent value if you are willing to walk a bit.
For houses, vrbo.com and airbnb are both good options. Another good site is 2+2, in the Las Vegas Lifestyle forum.
There are many other games and casinos during the WSOP time that run. Remember to take your own hotel location into consideration when comparing that location to the location of the casinos you will be playing at. Note: Nearly all of the casinos on the main strip. There are several soft games in downtown Vegas but most of the action will be on the strip during the WSOP.
List of Hotels and Casinos:
Note: All of these casinos will be very good options for both cash and MTTs. The buy ins vary in general but most of the 2/5NL + games allow for 200bb or more (I believe the Bellagio is the only one on this list where you will not be able to buy in for more than 100bs unless you are playing 5/10NL, where you can buy in for $1500).
|Casinos Good for Cash Games and MTTs||Notes|
|The Rio||Where the WSOP is held.|
|Venetian||One of the largest poker rooms and deep stack buy ins|
|Bellagio||Bellagio attracts very rich people and has soft games|
|Aria||Modern new poker room in a central location|
As with any endeavor, it’s important to try to maintain some semblance of a life balance. This is especially true if you are in Vegas for a long duration. Exercise, diet, and extracurricular activities are all important for a stable lifestyle. I have seen too many players get caught up in the Vegas lifestyle and blow their bankrolls in the pit or lose thousands of dollars due to being fatigued. While the WSOP is a time to capitalize and play a lot of hours, making sure that you are eating right and exercising can help you have more energy and focus for those long grinds. Hotels oftentimes have gyms and there are also many alternatives to eating the rich, fatty foods that many casinos offer
Transportation is a heavy consideration and should be a main focus for you. Transportation costs can either include a rented car (generally $25-$50 a day) or a taxi/Uber if living in a poker house and $0 (walking) or an Uber if staying in a hotel on the strip.
One idea for staying in a poker house is to have a joint car for everyone to split. In the past, we had a car leave early in the morning (10-11 a.m.) and come back late at night (12 midnight-2 a.m.) and whoever was done playing at the time used the car. It’s an affordable way to save money, considering one Uber to the strip can cost $10-$20 one way, which can really add up.
You will generally pay about $7-$10 for an Uber along the strip. Taxis are also much more expensive than Uber- I have used both and comparatively, taxis cost me 10-20% more.
Las Vegas has excellent food and you should take advantage of this as much as possible. Don’t go to general food courts daily and get McDonalds. I personally really enjoy this site for food references: http://jimmyeatsvegas.com/. Jimmy is very nice and willing to give you food suggestions and there are a lot of good local options. Another thread to check is the Casual food thread on 2+2: http://forumserver.twoplustwo.com/108/las-vegas-lifestyle/
Las Vegas has a large number of expensive, high end restaurants. Here are a few of my favorite CHEAPER eats:
Note: Most strip diners and cafes are fairly reasonably priced and decent food quality. The Grand Lux cafe in the Venetian is good for larger parties as it has a big menu and is higher quality cafe food.
Cheap Eats (meals for $15ish a person or under)
In-N-Out Burger (Central strip near the LINQ)- California burger chain that is very cheap but excellent value. Be sure to ‘animal style’ either your burger or fries (fried onions, cheese, extra sauce). https://www.yelp.com/biz/in-n-out-burger-las-vegas-12
Tacos El Gordo (slightly north of the Wynn)- Very good authentic Mexican, solid value (can get full for $10). There are different stations and it can be a bit confusing at first, but each station has the taco type where you order. https://www.yelp.com/biz/tacos-el-gordo-las-vegas-2
Shake Shack (near NYNY, south end of the strip)- Northeast burger chain, very solid food.
Bruxie (near NYNY, south end of the strip)- Chicken and waffles/sandwiches. Fairly cheap and tasty southern food. https://www.yelp.com/biz/bruxie-las-vegas?osq=bruxie
The WSOP is a once a year event; an event that brings poker players from all across the globe together. It’s a great place to make connections, win money, make investments, and have fun. There are a few other considerations that you should think about that are not discussed in this article and there are a lot of things to think about for Las Vegas.