Your 2017 WSOP Guide: Tips, Tricks and Prep

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

With the WSOP coming, poker players around the world turn their thoughts to playing the $10,000 buy-in main event, but are you ready?  Here are some more tips on how to be prepared for the main event, which is certainly a long haul tournament:

Days before or at least the night before: Buy your tournament ticket early! If you wait until the day of a huge event you will miss levels and get annoyed before you even begin waiting in line. You can also choose the Bravo supported advance registration and then you can register online or at new WSOP FasTrac Kiosks. You will pay fees for this service (typically $3 plus 2.95% of the buy in when you use a Visa or Mastercard credit card to pay, or 3.95% when using American Express) but it can be better than missing part of the tournament you want to play. You can find info on this at

The night before: Simple advice – your mother was right. Get a good sleep and resist the temptation to make it a party night.  You’ll thank us later.  Why not do your partying after you win the bracelet?  Okay, that might take a while, so at least wait until one of your two day breaks between Day 1 and 2 or Days 2 and 3.  Bottom line, don’t put yourself in a huge hung-over state at the tables.  It probably won’t end well.

Wear the right thing: While not a fashion moment that takes a great deal of thought, you will want to make sure that you are not overheated or too cold while you play.  Either of these can make you very uncomfortable, which usually leads to lack of concentration and poor play.  The parking lot of the Rio may seem like the hottest, driest place on the planet, given it is a desert after all, but inside the air conditioning is cranking and some tables can be very drafty as well.  If you wear a t-shirt bring a hoodie or light coat as well so you have options.

Bring some stuff: Remember, you’re basically going to hang out at poker tables and public areas for as much as 14 hours a day so you might need some stuff.  What kind of stuff?  Here’s a list of some items you might find useful:

  • Your ID, your Total Rewards cardand cash – The WSOP requires that every player has a TR card (you can get them pretty quickly onsite of course) but you wouldn’t believe how many players miss parts of rounds because they don’t show up with these basic requirements.
  • Mobile phone, iPad, iPod, Walkman(?!) etc., whatever you listen to music on and earbuds and/or headphones, note that tournament rules say you have to keep your device off the table).  Good for removing the echo of 1,000+ poker players riffling chips at the same time in one room.  Noise-cancelling headphones can be great with nothing attached to dull the din as well.
  • A note on phones — The WSOP allows no calls while in play or while seated at the table (you must step away from the table for a voice call) but texting, Tweeting, etc. is allowed when you do not have cards so you may update all your fans.
  • Extra battery/power packs for your music player, headphones, etc. This is great to power up your devices when you run out of juice and comes with the added bonus of ignoring the sales force in the hallways selling phone chargers for exorbitant prices.
  • Light snacks– Think protein or cereal bars, nuts, trail mix, bananas, healthier stuff and not sugar bombs or heavy foods although a well-timed candy bar when you’re feeling flat can be good to have too.  Also remember not all granola or energy bars are created equally.  Check out the protein—at least 5 grams is a minimum to give you some lasting energy and 10 grams is preferable.  Either way, remember to bring something.  Having snacks can be a lifesaver and give you the energy and focus you need to play your best when your mind is suffering late in the tournament day.
  • Water/Fluids – At the start of an event with thousands of people, don’t think that a beverage service is going to find you soon. Bring a bottle of water or other beverage to keep yourself hydrated. Pro Tip: There are water coolers placed around the rooms and you can refill your bottle at those if you need to.
  • Sunglasses– Whether they don’t leave your face when you play or whether you hate ‘em, don’t forget to have some in case you want to disappear for a while.
  • Medications – Sure you know to bring anything you’re medically required to be on but also think about headache/stomach ache medicine if you’re prone to those ailments.  Maybe also lip balm (remember again that you’re in the middle of the desert), dental floss and spare contact lenses if you wear them.

While you’re playing in the tournament:

Remember where you are – Don’t underestiamte the importance of this. Snap a photo with your phone or type your current section and table number into your phone’s notepad or somewhere.  You may always know where you are in your local poker room, but the Rio is different.  More like a football field full of tables, and they all look the same of course.

Start your phone’s timer – So you can know when the break ends without constantly having to find a tourney clock. You can also download the Bravo app, which allows you to see official tournament clocks at the WSOP and most other poker locales in Las Vegas.

Eat something not too heavy in your meal breaks – You know what causes you gastronomic distress–besides tax time; Avoid eating that so you don’t pay for it by getting heartburn or worse, or just feeling lousy and losing concentration.

So, pack your backpack and be prepared.  What you pack in your bag can end up helping you a ton to perform at your best through what can be very long days.

NEXT: PART 3–GO: Lasting the distance and a few strategy tips.