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How to Plan for a Grueling WSOP Summer in Las Vegas

January 9th, 2017 by Jon Sofen

Plan ahead if you’re traveling to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker. (Image: pokerupdate.com)

It is never too early (or late) to plan for a summer of poker in Las Vegas. Thousands of poker players travel to Sin City to compete in WSOP events and side cash games each year. It’s the place to be during the summer each year. Many travel to my home city each June hoping to make a killing at the poker tables.

Whether you’re interested in visiting Las Vegas to play in cash games, compete in WSOP events, or just to see your favorite poker pros in action at the Rio, you need to be prepared for a positive experience.

Book a Place to Stay Early

It’s not hard to find a place to stay in Las Vegas, but if you book early you can get better deals on hotels. If you plan on staying the entire summer, you may want to seek short-term housing as opposed to paying for a hotel each day. If you search Craigslist or internet forums, you’ll find fellow poker players renting out a room for the summer for those coming to town for the WSOP. That’s going to be your best bet.

Make sure you avoid the pay-by-the-week hotels. They’re cheap but in horrible neighborhoods. Unless you want to dodge bullets all summer, and I’m not talking about pocket aces here, avoid the hotels like the plague. If you’re only going to be in town for a small portion of the series, you can usually get a pretty good rate at the Rio, the site of the World Series of Poker.

Limit your Partying

Sin City is one of the best party hot spots in the world. I’m not telling you to avoid the clubs, but that shouldn’t be an everyday activity. Poker is a grind. You have to be mentally prepared, especially if you plan on playing in some WSOP events. You need to be in the right mental state to play your best for 8-10 (or more) hours per day.

The main goal of your trip is to make money. That doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun along the way. By all means, get your drink on over at LAX nightclub at Luxor on a Friday night, flirt with some beautiful women, and maybe even bring those ladies back to your room for some adult fun. Just make sure you keep your eyes on the prize (a gold bracelet).

Budget Accordingly

It’s not going to be a cheap summer. That’s true even for those who only plan on playing a few cash games or side events in Las Vegas. Between the cost of a hotel, transportation, food, poker games, and other activities, you’re going to have to fork over some serious cash if you want to have a good time.

Start saving up well in advance. The series begins in late May, which means you should start saving up early in the year. If you want to play in WSOP events, remember, the cheapest buy-in to any tournament is $565, and most cost more than $2,000. That doesn’t include airfare, hotel, etc. And while it would be nice if I could guarantee you’re going to make money, I can’t do that. It all depends on how well you play and run. So, there’s a definite possibility you will lose money in tournaments and/or cash games this summer.

Don’t Spend Too Much Time Outside

The one downside to hosting the WSOP in the summer is the heat. Las Vegas is a brutally hot climate over that time of year. Perhaps you’ve been told it’s a dry heat by someone who has never been to Sin City. Sure, it’s a dry heat. That means you won’t sweat quite as much as you would in a town with 80-percent humidity. But 110-degree temps is scalding hot no matter how you slice it.

Some days, the temps even surpass 115, reaching as high as 120. I don’t care if that’s a dry heat, it’s still ridiculously hot. It also rarely rains in Las Vegas and the sun beats down on you throughout the day, nearly every day over the summer. Don’t spend too much time outside or you’ll fry like an egg. It would be a shame if your WSOP was cut short due to heat exhaustion.

Non-Rio Poker Action

The poker action during the summer isn’t just at the Rio. There are numerous other casinos hosting exciting tournaments and cash games. Many poker rooms host their own poker series during the WSOP. And, in many cases, the blind structures are better than the WSOP events.

In the past, casinos such as Aria, Venetian, Wynn, Bellagio, and Golden Nugget have played host to a summer poker series. June and July are the busiest months in almost every Las Vegas poker room. That means you’ll have a long wait to get in a game at some poker rooms during this time, especially in the evening. Download the Bravo poker app on your phone so you can always know how long the wait list is for cash games at most of the casinos.

Parking in Las Vegas

If you haven’t been to Las Vegas the past couple of years, you will notice a significant change in parking: most hotels on the Strip now charge. The good news is parking is still free (for now) at the Rio. But all MGM and Caesars properties on the Strip charge for parking. That’s another expense you’ll have to deal with.

Unless you are a loyal player at the casinos, you’ll have to pay even if you are staying at the hotel. And parking isn’t cheap. Most hotels downtown on Fremont Street also charge for parking, but far less expensive than on the Strip. If you want to be a rebel, park your car at a hotel such as Tropicana and gamble/stay elsewhere. The parking is convenient to most hotels on the Strip and remains free. Why is Tropicana parking free? Because no one would pay money to park at such a boring hotel.

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