The WSOP; It's Almost Here! By Roy Cooke

By Roy Cooke

It’s just around the corner; are you ready? Poker is a game of skill, luck and opportunity, and one of the best opportunities is about to present itself. Have you groomed yourself to win the most money possible at the World Series of Poker (WSOP) running from May 27th to July 14th, 2014? Have you devised a plan? The money is going to those who prepare!

So what can you do to perform your best? First, plan your trip, get your accommodations in place, organize any backers, be adequately bankrolled, and be well rested and ready to play. It’s going to be a long grind. Arriving rested and unstressed will delay some of the wear and tear that’s bound to occur later.

Second, bring your favorite books or visit a gaming bookstore when you first arrive in Vegas. In poker, knowledge is vital. Knowing how to actualize that knowledge is imperative also. I feel that books by Ed Miller and Dan Harrington are technically sound, and books on psychology by Alan Schoonmaker and Jared Tendler can help provide you the “winning psychology.”Additionally, the WSOP offers poker players from other venues the opportunity to play with seasoned “world-class” players. Observe what they do, what plays they make, and think about why they made them in that specific instance. Make the WSOP a learning experience!

Many go on a “WSOP binge.” They arrive all excited to be in Vegas, rush to get in action, hit the bar to party with long-lost friends, party hard, sleep little, don’t take care of themselves, and burn out early, physically, mentally and financially. In short, they play like crap, way below their own potential. The WSOP is a two month marathon, one in which your mental and physical state will determine your performance level. Structure your activities to accentuate your stamina and thereby your performance. Exercising, eating right, and most importantly, sleeping right can make a monumental difference. 

Plan for the tournaments you want to play. Know their structure and plan to adjust your strategies to that structure. Organize your sleep schedule so you’re not starting them after 3 hours sleep. 

Are you planning on playing lots of the lucrative side action? Structure it to conform to your tournament schedules and when the games are best. I’ve found that the first two weeks and the last two weeks are the best times for the side action. The first two weeks are great because many players have come into town with fresh bankrolls and lose them early. The last two weeks are great because many come to participate in or watch the main event. So plan some breaks in the middle of the WSOP, during the weekdays, when the “poker opportunities” are fewer.

Familiarize yourself with the Vegas poker scene early. The WSOP tournaments are at the Rio, but many local cardrooms “piggyback” off the WSOP and run their own, mostly smaller buy-in tournaments. Check out Bellagio, Wynn, Orleans, Caesars, and Venetian, for additional tournament action. For you seniors, Binion’s is running the “Legends of Poker” for those 45 and older on June 7-9. 

For the side action, game quality, game type and poker room management vary greatly. The Rio gets many players staying at the casino, and the action is good there. That said, the Rio has a small regular poker room, and the WSOP dealers are often new with little experience. When the WSOP is in town, there is a huge overflow to the other Las Vegas high-limit cardrooms. The Bellagio, Venetian and Wynn all have the advantage of regularly running high-stakes games, have experienced employees, and are major recipients of the WSOP overflow. At all three of them, you’ll find well-run high-limit action with proficient dealers. 

Once you’re in tune with the situation, you need to make sure you stay confident and keep in tune with yourself. It’s so easy to get caught up in the action, being stuck, the parties, etc. Know your weaknesses and limitations. Many players play higher than normal at the WSOP. Make sure you’re playing at your comfort level and if you’re looking to extend that comfort level do it incrementally. Don’t just take a massive leap in limits because you’re stuck or thrill seeking. 

If you’re susceptible to “tilt,” recognize it. Take a few deep breaths, walk away from the table, quit, give yourself a good talking to, but DON’T play tilted. If you step up to play a higher limit and don’t fare well, it’s not a requirement that you go broke at that limit. Step back down and take another shot when you’re fresh, confident and bankroll-ready. Don’t get yourself stuck, sleep-deprived and burned out. Remember it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Keep relaxed and focused. 

So, plan your trip, study up, stay within your element, keep out of “the pit,” remain in tune with your mind and body, constantly grade your performance, learn something new every day and enjoy the ride. 

Most of all, remember you’re there to play poker, and win the money.