Your 2017 WSOP Guide: Tips, Tricks and Prep

PART 1–GET READY: Schedule, Where To Stay, Layout

With the WSOP coming, many poker players around the world turn their thoughts to playing the $10,000 buy-in main event, but are you ready?  Do you know what to expect on-site?  Do you know how to prepare for long, grueling days of playing live against the world’s top competition?     

Many live and online players may be taking their first shot at this major live tournament this summer.  Some may be experienced live players who have never played the main event.  Others may be current or former online players playing live for the first time.

Schedule:  The event runs this year from May 31 to July 17, 2017.  The event consists of 74 poker tournaments of various types (Limit and No-Limit Hold’em, PLO, Stud, Omaha, etc.) and buy-ins.  The best known event is of course the $10K buy-in main event (officially known as Event #73) but there are many smaller tourneys which players can participate in, with buy-ins ranging from $333 (online) and $365 (live “The Giant”) to $111,000 if you want to drop major coin on the ONE DROP High Roller event.  Complete info on schedule, structures and rules can be found at here in our chronological listing of all key Las Vegas Summer 2016 tournaments, complete with info on starting stacks, level lengths, and links to official structure sheets.

Where to stay: The event is at the Rio again this year.  While not located on “the Strip,” it is located close to the Strip.  Places to stay if you want a hotel include the Rio itself, the Palms (which is across the street), and any strip hotel, all of which are within a 15 minute cab ride.  Caesars Entertainment properties such as Caesars, Harrahs, Ballys, etc. typically have a free shuttle going to the Rio at certain times.  Most do, but not all, so ask the hotel when you’re planning your trip.

Other options are to get an apartment, condo or house.  This is pretty attractive if you plan on going out for a month or more.  Staying at a hotel all that time can get pretty exhausting with all the wading through gaming areas and the generally chaotic environment of any casino.   It also may give you the ability to eat a healthier diet (more on that in Part 2—it is important) and also can save on food costs. Drawbacks include more hassles for transportation given that such accommodation is rarely near the strip.  Finding a place to stay that you can count on being what you expect can be challenging but look for short-term rentals and sub-lets in real estate searches and forums, Craigslist, AirBNB, or contact a real estate agent in Las Vegas for surest bets.

Location and layout: The Rio is a typical Vegas hotel, meaning it is a huge expanse of gaming, retail, restaurant and hotel areas.  The event is held in the convention area at the rear of the complex.  So do yourself a favor and skip the main valet and parking and head to the rear where there is a dedicated valet and parking area for the convention space.  This year Uber is also available at the rear for pickups and are in fact a sponsor of the WSOP.  Tell taxi and Uber or Lyft drivers to drop you off at this valet as well. You’ll still be doing some walking but this will reduce it down.

The basic layout covers several large rooms.  Inside each is a literal sea of poker tables—a pretty awesome site for anyone who likes poker, actually.

The Pavilion is where most large field tournaments start, sit and go and other satellite and small tourneys take place, and cash games are run.  A myriad of cash games are offered and the action is quite good with a new high roller lounge added this year, sponsored by King’s Casino in the Czech Republic which is set to be home of the WSOP Europe this year from October 19 to November 10, 2017.

The Amazon room is also the starting spot for most tourneys, but has no cash games or sit and go’s.  It also this year contains the awards stage where bracelets are given to event winners in brief ceremonies held around noon each day.

Brasilia is the home this year of the “Thunderdome” the nickname of the WSOP’s television set for feature and final and televised tables. It also contains a small set for commentators under this year’s televised/Internet deal with PokerGO, an online service that will stream various events not aired on ESPN.  If you’re a fan, you can actually watch final tables being shot live, although seating and standing is limited.

This year most of the former “Poker Kitchen” space (located in the Miranda Room) is being used for overflow tournament starts and smaller daily tourneys. The remaining Poker Kitchen space this year has a couple of limited food stations serving hot and cold choices.  Many pan the food, but there are some small sushi trays, salads, sandwiches and snacks available so it’s not bad given the scale of the event.  There are also a few on-site restaurants and two Starbucks locations but you need to send a friend to reserve a table at those if you expect to use a tournament meal break to eat at any on-site restaurant.

Another dining option is All-American Dave, who specializes in relatively healthy fare and a food runners who will bring your order to you at your poker table. If you choose a prepaid plan, you can simply Tweet or text to order from them.

So now you have the lay of the land. 

NEXT: PART 2–GET SET: What to bring, how to prepare.