The World Series of Poker Main Event is considered the Cadillac of all poker events. For $10,000 any player in the world can face off against the best in the game.
The tournament is not for the weak of heart and lasts over a week. It can be grueling for players not used to putting in long hours.
Poker fame and an exclusive gold bracelet await the sole survivor, not to mention a massive payday. The Main Event kicks off on Thursday with the first of six starting flights.
For first-time players entering into the arena, it can be overwhelming. With that in mind, USPoker offers some quick tips on saving time and energy.
1 – Arrive early in Las Vegas
Depending on where a player is flying in from, jet lag can be a real problem. The last thing a player needs is to be mentally out of the game before even starting.
Arrive in Las Vegas a few days early to help overcome jet lag. This will help you get acquainted with the city, but also allows your body to adapt to the time change.
For most people, allowing your body to adapt to time changes can take up to 48 hours. This is the same reason some NFL teams arrive in their next city days before their game. Get in early and allow your body to reset mentally and physically.
2 – Study strategy
It’s always good to have a plan and never too late to study at a training site or read a strategy book. Learning something new can go a long way and could make the difference in coming home a winner or busting.
World Poker Tour champion Jonathan Little spoke with USPoker about his thoughts on WSOP Main Event strategy.
“It is important to figure out how your specific opponent will perceive your bets,” says Little, who runs PokerCoaching.com. “Against world-class players, the goal is often to try to play as close to GTO [game theory optimization] as possible because you have no clue of the mistakes they will be inclined to make.
“Against players whose errors are clear to you, you should adjust your strategy in an attempt to take advantage of their errors. For example, if you know someone will almost always fold to a 1.25x pot river bet but will call normally against a pot-sized bet, you may want to drastically over-bluff using a 1.25x pot bet. Figure out what your opponents do incorrectly then take advantage of it.”
3 – Register beforehand
Registration is practically always open at the Rio. Showing up a day early to register is a player’s best bet. Avoid the lines and don’t waste your time. Getting to the cage before 9 am is always a safe play.
If a player has never been to the Rio, this also allows you to get a feel for the location. Make sure to locate all the bathrooms in the casino. This will come in handy later when the lines are 100 players deep.
For 2021, players need to be vaccinated and will have to show the CLEAR app upon first registration. Download the app and make sure it’s “green” and ready to go. The last thing a player wants to encounter is being turned away for not having the proper documentation.
4 – Eat healthy
The Main Event lasts over a week and brings some long days. Players need to preserve as much energy as possible. This includes drinking plenty of water and eating healthy.
Eating better will help players stay mentally sharp. Add protein to your diet, cut out sugars, and limit heavy carbohydrates.
Snacks such as non-sugary trail mix and protein bars can help players get through the day. Drop some snacks in your poker bag to relieve any cravings during those long levels.
Every night players get a lengthy dinner break. Avoiding starchy carbs is key. Eating a big plate of pasta or pizza will bring fatigue when returning to the table. Eating a nutritious meal helps the body stay focused when the game resumes.
5 – Get plenty of sleep
Set a bedtime and get your body on a routine. The Main Event will end around the same time each night. This is not the time to go out drinking and partying, save that for the last night.
“The Main Event is the best structured tournament in the world, but you’ve got to stay sharp,” says Ben Beahm, a poker player from Bellmawr, New Jersey. “Not getting enough sleep can be a quick downfall and lead to bad decision making.”
It can be hard to sleep, especially if your adrenaline is going after a session. Most casinos have a gym or fitness center. Lifting weights or a short jog can be a great way to burn off that excitement.
Try to avoid distraction and put down the phone before bed. Close the window shades and turn on the air conditioning to kill the noise in the hotel. Staying mentally strong is one of the hardest parts about going the distance in the Main Event. Get as much rest as possible, you’ll need it.
The WSOP is the most prestigious tournament in poker. Even though all players are there to win, the key is to take it all in and have fun. By staying mentally strong and having a game plan, players give themselves the best odds to hopefully go deep.
* Photos courtesy PokerGO