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Here's What You Need to Know Before Playing Your First WSOP Event


If this is finally the year you plan to scratch "Play in a World Series of Poker event" off your bucket list, these tips should enhance the experience:

Pick your tournament carefully.

Your first-ever WSOP competition likely will be one of the cheaper buy-in tournaments. This year's 57-event WSOP at the Rio Casino Hotel in Las Vegas offers more low-end choices than ever before for no-limit hold 'em players.

After the rousing success of last year's $1,000 "stimulus special" — which drew a remarkable 6,012 entries, the largest non-main-event live tournament in history — officials have put six of these events in the 2010 lineup.

The first five start on consecutive Saturdays beginning May 29, and the last one starts July 1. All are set as four-day events except for June 26, which is listed at three days.

It's hard to believe any of these tournaments will top last year's record, but they might. With five of them scheduled around weekends, crowds will be huge.

If you're female or turning 50 on June 18 or later, you have more options at the bargain-basement $1,000 tournament level. The ladies championship is June 11, and the seniors battle on June 18. Both are three-day events.

Compared to the open $1,000 events, the fields in these two specialty tournaments should be more manageable. Last year, the ladies drew 1,060 entrants, while 2,707 played for the seniors title.

This year's schedule offers seven regular no-limit hold 'em tournaments at the $1,500 level, previously the lowest buy-in option for open events. They're set for May 31 and June 2, 4, 16, 23, 25 and 28.

These same seven events last year drew an average of 2,621 players, but that number could drop this year because of the new $1,000 tournament options available.

Play your best game.

Because this is your first WSOP action — and, who knows, could be your last — you should play your strongest game.

Although no-limit hold 'em dominates today's poker landscape, perhaps your best or favorite poker discipline is something else. If so, that's what you should play.

For example, if you're just a decent no-limit hold 'em player, but you used to kill the limit hold 'em or stud tables before no-limit took over, then play the game you know best. Don't simply follow the no-limit hordes. You'll probably have a better chance to cash by playing the game that gives you the most confidence.

There are several $1,500 choices to consider, including: Omaha/eight or better on May 30, limit hold 'em on June 4, seven card stud on June 10 and stud/eight or better on June 14.

Where to stay in Vegas.

You have two options: stay on-site at the Rio, or stay somewhere else. There's good and bad about both.

Staying at the Rio is convenient, of course, but it's still a long walk from the hotel rooms to the tournament area. Also, the place will be packed, meaning potential long lines for restaurants, valet parking, etc.

Staying off-site might be cheaper and less congested, but you'll spend extra money and time on transportation. Plus, it'll be 100 degrees outside.

Whatever you decide, plan to arrive in Vegas two days ahead. Use the open day before your event to learn your way around the Rio tournament area, sign up for your event and scope out the action. That will give you a feel for what you'll be facing the next day. Then, get a full night's rest.

Learn the rules.

The WSOP has an extensive list of rules that govern play, not all of which are enforced in your local card room. There are nearly 50 rules alone that govern action at the tables, in addition to tons of general information.

To make sure you're ready, do an Internet search for "WSOP 2010 rules," so you'll know what to expect.

Finally, re-read your favorite poker strategy book, and you'll be good to go.

E-mail your poker questions and comments to for use in future columns. To find out more about Russ Scott and read previous LuckyDog Poker columns, visit or




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