World Series of Poker with Buddies: 5 Ways to Upgrade That Vegas Friends Experience

April 26, 2022
World Series of Poker with Buddies: 5 Ways to Upgrade That Vegas Friends Experience

The World Series of Poker venue may have changed, but the series is back to its summer roots. Heading to Las Vegas with buddies and friends every summer has become a tradition for many. 

“I look forward to this trip every year with my friends,” says Nerdthusiast Poker podcast host Brian Keane. “I feel like summer doesn’t officially start until I am in Vegas at the WSOP every year with my poker crew.”

Not everyone headed to Las Vegas is a poker pro. Many players go just to check out the action or to play in smaller events. Just because players aren’t jumping in high roller bracelet events, doesn’t mean the WSOP can’t provide lots of fun. 

Here’s a look at five ways poker playing friends and groups can add to their Vegas experience.

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1 – Poker league satellites

Anthony Cicali’s home game poker league.

Hosting a year-round poker league is a lot of fun. Having friends throw money together each month and creating a point structure to determine the yearly winner can create a friendly competitive dynamic.

Allowing the top players of the league to take the money and play in a Main Event satellite or bigger WSOP tournaments can create a rail of enthusiasm.

“The thing I like best about being in a poker league is being able to play in higher buy-in events I normally wouldn’t play because of the cost,” says Cherry Hill, New Jersey, poker player Ray Mendoza. “I also really like going into events, like the WSOP, as a team with the other guys from the league rooting for one another.”

2 – Tag team event

Originally the WSOP had a “mixed doubles event” that Doyle Brunson and Starla Brodie won back in 1979. This event was transformed and brought back to life in the form of a “tag team event” in 2016

The tournament has grown into one of the most fun atmospheres of the summer events. This is a great way for friends to join forces and also not kill the bankroll.

The 2022 tag team tournament is Event 55 and set for June 26 with a $1,000 buy-In. The event allows up to two players on a team. If a team wins an event, each player grabs a bracelet.

Over the last few years, friends have worn costumes or even team jerseys to represent their crew and add to the fun.

3 – Prop bets and last longer wagers 

A prop bet is short for a propositional bet and generally is not directly tied to the game at hand. Poker prop bets have been around for years and have been the focus of a few films including Lucky You

In the movie, the character Cheever is trying to get his Main Event seat buy-in. To do this, he has to win a bet by running miles and golfing a 78 or less in less than three hours without using a cart.

Prop bets don’t have to be this extreme but are fun ways that buddies can be competitive and make friends do outlandish things. A few examples of prop bets include:

  • $100 last longer bet – Each friend puts up money and the last one remaining in the tournament wins.
  • First one out of the tournament has to dress like a cowboy and ride the mechanical bull at PBR Bar and Grill.
  • First person to tell a bad beat story has to buy a round of drinks.

4 – Dinner roulette 

Meeting with friends for breakfast and dinner every day is a highlight in itself. In Alexander Fitzgerald’s book Exploitative Play in Live Poker, he discusses what recreational poker with friends is all about.

“The true salary in poker is in drinking black coffee at a diner and plotting with your friends on how you’re going to make hundreds of thousands of dollars together,” he writes. “Nothing compares to that high.”

For friends wanting to change things up and make it competitive, players can assign the buddy that has the biggest stack at dinner break to pick the restaurant. Or another fun option is to play a game of credit card roulette on who pays for the meals.

Credit card roulette is when all friends pitch in their debit cards and mix them up and hand them to the waiter. The waiter picks out a random card and that is the person who pays for the meal. 

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5 – Hit the town

The author and friends hanging out at the WSOP in 2021.

Sometimes taking a day off to relax and do something touristy can be a really memorable experience. There are a ton of historical sites and attractions all around Las Vegas.

Asking a casino host for comped show tickets is also a great idea. A great Vegas show is a great way to unwind after a few long days of playing poker. 

“This summer I am taking a day off from the series to go wakeboarding with friends on Lake Mead while I’m out there,” says Jeff Barton of Delran, New Jersey. 

Other unique tourist places to visit include:

  • Neon Sign Graveyard
  • Hoover Dam
  • Grand Canyon
  • The Mob Museum 
  • Fremont Street Experience

Poker is about fun. Hanging out at Vegas, being with friends, playing cards, and trying to win money is what it’s all about.

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