This year has not got off to an auspicious start for me as far as poker goes. I made some bone-headed plays in the bar league that I play in, I have min-cashed in exactly two online tournaments so far, and I have felt off my game for pretty much the entire month.
So, naturally, I am making plans to play in the World Series of Poker this summer in Las Vegas. Why, you may ask? A reasonable question, and one that my wife asked when I told her what I am thinking. The bottom line answer is, because I can. Right now, I have the means to enter a (relatively) low buy-in tourney and can afford the travel costs to do it. I have wanted to participate in the WSOP experience for several years now but haven't taken the steps to make it happen. In a few more years, my wife and I are hoping that I can retire early from my current job, following in my wife's footsteps who volunteered to be laid off from her job last fall. I figure that now is a good time for me to fulfill this "dream" of playing in the WSOP, while I have a steady income and don't need to worry about whether the money I might spend playing poker should be used to pay the electric bill instead.
I can't go nuts and jump into the Main Event or anything like that. I feel like I can handle a bottom-tier buy-in event, preferably over a weekend so I don't have to take too many days off work. After examining the recently released event schedule, I have found what I believe is probably the best fit for me: the Seniors No-Limit Hold'em Championship, which starts Friday June 17 at 12:00 noon and has a buy-in of $1,000. Don't be too surprised that I actually qualify for this 50-or-older event, despite my youthful good looks. I know that the majority of my poker blogger friends aren't quite at that milestone in their chronology yet, so I don't expect to see many of them in the event with me. But I am hoping that some will be in Las Vegas during that time, and that I will get to say hello to them in between sessions or before or after the events that everyone enters.
I know that the competition in the Seniors event will be tough. I have no doubt that there will be plenty of long-time players in it with decades more experience than I have. But, at least I won't have to face the ultra-aggressive Internet punks who are barely older than my son. I do plan to study more, and play more, between now and June, to try to find and plug (or at least slow) some of the leaks in my game. If I will have one thing going for me in the event, it's that the chances of any of my opponents having played me before or knowing how I play are infinitesimal.
Besides the preparation for the tournament, I also will need to take care of some logistical stuff. Where to stay? When to arrive in Las Vegas, and when to leave? How to get around while in town? Right now, I will probably fly in the Wednesday night or Thursday morning before the event, giving myself the day on Thursday to relax and maybe meet up with any friends who are available. The Seniors tourney is a three-day event, so I will most likely book a flight home on Monday. If I bust out early, I will have whatever remains of the weekend to hang out, play some cash games, and generally soak up the atmosphere of the WSOP.
I am not sure about where to stay. The Rio itself has rates right now for that weekend that aren't as expensive as I thought they would be, but are a little more than I would like to spend. I could stay on the Strip for less, perhaps in a Caesars property and ride their shuttle to the Rio. But I don't like the idea of depending on their shuttle, nor having to drive a rental car from a Strip property to the Rio every day that I am in the event. The Gold Coast, right next to the Rio, has very good rates and is looking like a definite possibility. I may or may not want to have a rental car. It would give me more freedom, especially if I bust early and want to get around town for the rest of my stay. I'll probably get one, if only to avoid having to deal with cabs and shuttle buses.
I would really like to get some feedback from anyone who has tips for a first-timer at the WSOP, whether it be about playing in the Series, dealing with travel stuff, or whatever. I would also love to hear from anyone who will be in Las Vegas that weekend (June 16 - 19), either visiting or living there, in case we have a chance to meet up. Please leave me a comment or e-mail me at david dot westbay at verizon dot net.
In a short while, I will be playing in today's PokerStars WBCOOP 8-Game tournament. In my previous two attempts in this year's WBCOOP, I have come up short of any prizes. I would like to get some sort of ticket to another event, if nothing else. Although I can afford to pay my own way to the WSOP this summer, winning some money online that I could use towards those expenses would certainly be nice.
On a different note, some of you have probably heard about the PokerStars Home Games that they are now offering. I haven't looked into it too closely yet, but it struck me as a way for poker-playing friends to play together for fun without having to request private tournaments from the poker sites. I will be happy to set up a "club" (as Stars calls them) for any of my blogger pals or other friends who want to play occasionally (or regularly). If you are interested, leave me a comment or drop me an e-mail and I will send you an invitation when I get things going.
I hope to hear from some of you, about the WSOP or about the home game or both, soon!