For the past three years, Paul and I have been lucky enough to attend the World Series of Poker. We, of course, haven’t been able to be there for the entire (almost two month) extravaganza. But in the past few years we’ve attended the WSOP for a few days, topping out at a whole week in 2019. As a poker player, there is nothing like visiting Vegas during the WSOP. It is, to steal our own words, the pilgrimage all poker players should make at least once in their lives.
Why We Love Attending the World Series of Poker
The energy level at the Rio during the World Series of Poker (WSOP) is off the charts. There is at least one bracelet event every day and multiple other events (daily deepstacks, satellites, cash games) that keep the Rio’s extensive convention center humming. On opening days of large events (e.g., Big 50, Colossus or Main Event) tournament tables spill into the Rio’s poker room, hallways, and even the old bowling alley! There is generally a final table being recorded for ESPN or PokerGo in the Amazon Room. Anyone can grab a seat and sweat the action, and possibly end up on TV!
I have never been much of a celebrity watcher. Past chance encounters with people like Jason Segel and Ric Ocasek (twice!) left me saying, “that’s cool,” but not much more. Poker celebrity sightings, however, leave me bubbling with excitement. Paul has been nearly mowed down three times by Mike Matusow’s electric scooter during World Series of Poker action. We’ve spotted luminaries like Daniel Negreanu, Maria Ho, and Phil Ivey walking down the halls. We’ve even had our picture taken with Phil Hellmuth, Qui Nguyen, and William Kassouf. If there’s any level of poker fangirl (or fanboy) inside you, the WSOP will slake that thirst.
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The ultimate dream, of course, is to play in the World Series of Poker Main Event. This is pretty much item number 1 on my poker bucket list. But until the day I have $10,000 to blow on a poker tournament, the WSOP offers an amazing array of action. There are, of course, the many bracelet tournaments. Some have buy-ins as low as $400. And you can play a wide variety of poker variants, from No Limit Hold ‘Em to Razz to Short Deck! Then there are multiple “Daily Deepstack” events, with buy-ins as low as $150. Paul and I entered the weekly Senior’s Daily Deepstack this year, and he actually cashed in 6th place!
Daily SitNGo satellites allow you to win a seat into a World Series of Poker bracelet event. WSOP cash games also abound, if you are so inclined. And to add icing to the incredible WSOP cake, during the World Series, there are tournament series all over Vegas to fill out your trip.As a poker player, there is nothing like visiting Vegas during the WSOP.Click To Tweet
Poker professionals refer to the World Series of Poker as “Summer Camp”. Those two months in Las Vegas every summer draw a massive proportion of the poker community. Professional and recreational players convene in Vegas along with other contributors to the poker community. We’ve sat at tables and looked over to find someone we regularly play with in New Hampshire. We seek out dealers from our regular rooms who have migrated to Vegas to work for the summer. The last couple years, we’ve enjoyed the opportunity to meet members of Advanced Poker Training at their annual Meet-N-Greet. And we always relish the chance to sit down and talk with people like Robbie Strazynski from Cardplayer Lifestyle.
The World Series of Poker operates as much like a convention as a series of poker tournaments. As with any self-respecting convention, there are a wide variety of vendors plying their wares. In addition to the tempting items for purchase, a number of vendors give away free stuff. We’ve seen everything from poker chips to string bags to Tshirts given away in the hallways of the WSOP. Our purchases so far have been limited to books from D+B Poker Publishing and WSOP t-shirts. Sporting a World Series of Poker t-shirt is a conversation starter at your local room. Of course, everyone wants to know if you played in the Main Event. Just say yes. We won’t tell. At the WSOP vendors offer everything from the ubiquitous phone chargers, to high end sunglasses, to massage chairs and electronic poker tables.
While the World Series of Poker is the excuse, its setting should not be sold short. We confess that before we went to Las Vegas we assumed we would not like the city much. The crowds, the hard sell for tickets to cheesy shows, and non-poker gambling are really not our cup of tea. However, we were so wrong. Vegas has proved to be one of our favorite places to visit even independent of poker. There is a wide diversity of great restaurants all over the city. There are a plethora of entertainment options. And Vegas is one of the greatest people watching venues you can find in the world. If you want to venture out of the city for day trips, there are many options. The Boulder Dam and Red Rocks are well worth your time, and the Grand Canyon is reachable as well.
If you’ve watched the World Series of Poker on TV with rapt attention, you’ll not regret a trip to Vegas to experience it live. Work in some sightseeing, celeb spotting, momento purchasing, and, of course, playing your favorite tournaments and/or cash games for a complete experience. The only risk is getting hooked!
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