Mistakes to Avoid at the WSOP
With the WSOP just a couple of days away, we thought it would be prudent to outline some mistakes to avoid on your trip to poker's greatest spectacle this summer. While we haven't been attending the WSOP for decades, we have been there for the past five or so years since the action moved from Binion's to the Rio. That's given us the chance to pinpoint some of the headaches that can arise if you don't have your A-game with you:
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Don't Register for Tournaments Just Prior to Their Start Time
WSOP organizers allow players to register for events at any time. This means you can register for the $1,000 'Stimulus Special' the night before it starts rather than wait in what will almost certainly be an enormous line the following morning. In general, it is almost always advisable to register for tournaments the night before if possible. Registration lines for events just minutes before they begin are usually quite long, especially for the large-field, small buy-in tournaments.
Consider Staying Somewhere Other Than the Rio
While it can be really convenient staying at the Rio and thus being just a short walk away from the WSOP action, it can also run the risk of driving you insane. The Rio is not a part of the Las Vegas Strip. In the summer, it effectively becomes an island of poker players. While that might sound exciting right now, it can get really tiresome after just a couple of days. Poker players are annoying, smelly, and disgusting people who stand in the hallway complaining to someone who isn't listening about how their Ace-King got cracked. It doesn't take a whole lot of exposure to that environment before the thought of getting the hell out of there sounds fantastic.
Don't Be a Strip Club Fish
Since poker players are always concerned with plugging "leaks", one major leak to avoid in Vegas are the strip clubs. By all means, go and have a great time, just don't get skinned in the process. A few things to keep in mind are that cab drivers get a hefty kickback from strip clubs for dropping off a patron. Before getting a cab ride to a strip club, ask the cabbie if he'll take you there for free. Most of them will be happy to do so which saves a quick $10-$30 in the process. If they say no, call their bluff and ask them to drive you to some casino. They'll almost certainly counter with some type of an offer to get you to the club for cheap.
While in the club, bear in mind that you have the power, not the dancers. They are basically glorified hustlers. Under no circumstances should you pay more than $20 per song for a lap dance (especially in this economic climate). Additionally, keep in mind that they will want to be paid for every song they dance for you. Watch out for lines like, "I'll give you a free dance." What happens is they'll dance for you for five songs without saying anything and then try to charge you some obscene rate for the four that weren't free. Some strippers can be pretty cool though and it's not uncommon that you can get them to meet you somewhere outside the club for a drink, especially if it's towards the end of their shift.
Avoid the Cheapest Hotel
A common Vegas-newbie mistake is to look up hotel prices and book a room at the cheapest hotel possible. This is a dreadful mistake. The bottom 25% of hotels in Vegas are really awful. Even persons on the tightest of budgets would do well not to stay at these places. Vegas is not a cheap city. If you're planning on getting by like some college kid backpacking through Europe, your trip is going to be hell. However much money you think you should bring, double that amount. You don't need to pay an arm and a leg for a hotel room, but an adequate room that won't trigger allergy problems or smell horrible will be at least $75 per night in most cases.
Don't Rent a Car
If this is your first trip to Vegas, you may be tempted to rent a car. Don't. There are plenty of taxis and their rates are reasonable. Unless you're planning on going sightseeing outside of Vegas, there is no need to rent a car. It's a difficult city to navigate through and the traffic and parking considerations make driving a nightmare compared to taking taxis or walking.
Small Buy-In Tournaments are Crap
As a general rule of thumb, any tournament in Las Vegas with a buy-in of $200 or less is probably a ripoff. These small buy-in tournaments are very popular among players with a smaller bankroll, but they are often rendered unbeatable by the high entry fee taken by the casino. I can attest to one exception to this: Treasure Island's 7 p.m. nightly 'Head Hunters' tournament. This is a bounty event with $125 buy-in. Of this money, $50 goes to the prize pool, $50 is put on your head as a bounty, and $25 goes to the house. Despite the high entry fee, the tournament has a great structure and is ridiculously soft making it pretty easy to play for a worthwhile profit.
Players looking for good tournaments with buy-ins less than that of the WSOP would be well advised to head over to the Venetian. Their 'Deep Stack Extravaganza' is a fantastic series of events that runs for the duration of the WSOP with buy-ins in the $300-$1,000 range. Other casinos with appealing series of tournaments that run simultaneously with the WSOP are the Golden Nugget, Caesars, and Binion's.
Don't Eat at the Rio on Dinner Break
The Rio does the best they can with trying to feed thousands of poker players every day, but understandably, they come up a little short. If you make it to the dinner break of a tournament, it's advisable to leave the Rio for food unless you don't mind a very long wait. The best kept secret is the Gold Coast casino which is next door to the Rio. They have a few pretty good restaurants. Additionally, since you can walk there, it dodges the need to wait for a cab. The cab line can become impossibly long around dinner time at the Rio. There is also an In-N-Out Burger nearby which, for reasons I am yet to figure out, is wildly popular among most people.