As I prepare to depart for Vegas this evening, I feel like an old hand when it comes to Vegas and the WSOP. I mean I first attended the World Series of Poker in 2004 when it was still at the Horseshoe, for goodness sake! I still remember the dry erase board they used to keep up with main event entries as they grew each day, the satellite area downstairs and the main tournament action in Benny's Bullpen.
It's hard to wrap my mind around the WSOP then versus the WSOP now. That year I spent a week in Vegas with my friend Brian. We were some broke SOBs who played more poker in the nightly Sahara tournaments than we did at the Horseshoe. I tried my hand at the $1,000 NLHE w/ rebuys at the WSOP (go back and look at my second post on this blog for that recap) and Brian won a seat into a supersatellite, but neither of us had any luck after that.
Then in 2005, I started my poker adventure after leaving the J-O-B, with nearly a month to bum around Sin City. Although it was by then my fourth trip to Vegas, that was the first time I really got to learn about the city other than the standard tourist destinations. I'll admit it was a little bit scary being alone for a month in a (for the most part) unfamiliar town. By now I'd say I know much of Vegas like the back of my hand. You know, the imporant things like the location of every In 'n Out Burger and the shortcut down Industrial from the Rio to Downtown.
As I believe there are quite a few bloggers making the trek out there this year for either their first trip to Vegas or their first trip to the WSOP, I will impart on these pages some of my accumulated knowledge on the subject...
Don't blow your wad
Don't get any dirty thoughts. This advice has nothing to do with strippers or hookers, but it has everything to do with the wad of money tucked into your jeans' pocket. I've heard first, second and third hand accounts of players with truckloads of online or local game wins taking a hefty percentage of their bankrolls to Vegas and blowing through it in a hurry. The WSOP is an expensive proposition. You could theoretically spend more than a quarter million buying into events in six weeks. Before you go, take stock of how much you are willing to risk on your trip. If you take $10K and plan to be there for three weeks, don't blow through $5K in the first four days. Don't put too much at risk early in your trip or you'll be eating 99-cent shrimp cocktails every night for dinner by the last week of your jaunt. A trick I tried on my first trip to Vegas (before I even played much poker) was to take envelopes for each day of the trip. I split the money I was taking to play with evenly among the envelopes, one for each day. At the end of the day I put any money still in my pocket into fresh envelopes not to be touched until I got home. If you stay disciplined this will guarantee you take money back home with you.
Stop and smell the roses
Vegas is a fun town, even if you don't like to gamble or play poker. I've had several friends go there and not gambled a nickel. They just go to enjoy the sights. If you've never been to Vegas, or even if you have, don't grind away at the tables every hour of every day. Go see a show, watch the Bellagio fountains, hike at Red Rock Canyon, see Hoover Dam...do anything but play poker for at least part of every day. I've compiled a mental list of some of the things I've never done before that I want to try this year...from going to an Area 51's minor league baseball game to just driving around the UNLV campus.
Don't forget the satellites
Although the satellites at the WSOP play like turbos I can't stress this enough -- play them! Satellite play at the Rio has traditionally been very soft. One caveat I must add is that you must be a good negotiator. Few satellite are played until the end. Usually they are chopped two or three ways. Fight for the best deal you can get if you make it to the end game. The Venetian also runs good satellites for those coveted octagonal buy-in chips into the DSE. Try some of those, as well.