WSOP First Timers: What to Expect

The Rio, home of the WSOP, can be a challenging space for first timers.

The Rio, home of the WSOP, can be a challenging space for first timers.

There’s less than a week remaining before the Rio opens its doors to a horde of poker players and first timers could easily feel lost in the madness.

The 2015 WSOP Preview has tons of great advice, insight and predictions for the looming WSOP, especially for first time players. But not everything was able to be covered and there’s a few more things rookies can expect at the WSOP.

Expect to Stand in Line – A Lot

The World Series of Patience is a separate set of events occurring during the WSOP and events include waiting in line for a Total Rewards card, waiting in line to register for an event, waiting in line for the bathroom, waiting in line for food – get the idea?

Fortunately, the TR and registration windows are open 24-hours a day and first-time players should take advantage of the late night or early morning and have a painless experience. Grab a quick bathroom break by either ducking a couple minutes early before the break or be a few minutes late back from break.

Food options are limited at the Rio and you’re basically limited to a number of options: the poker kitchen, restaurants in the Rio (half mile walk), or nearby, off-site restaurants – but they’ll be packed on every break. It’s a better option to brown bag it or sample some of the healthy, yet pricey meals All American Dave offers outside the Amazon Room.

Expect Burnout

The WSOP runs 68 bracelet events, plus three Daily Deepstacks everyday, seemingly an infinite number of Sit & Gos and satellites all hours of the day and a huge selection of cash games. With so many options available, many first timers throw themselves into action non-stop, ignoring basic needs like sleep, recovery and proper nutrition.

WSOP veterans will tell you to pace yourself – it’s a long seven weeks and new players unaccustomed to the grind can burn out pretty quick. It’s advisable to plan a few off days throughout the summer with no poker at all, ideally, no gambling. Plan a spa day, a resort pool day, catch a couple movies, go bowling, take in a show, hike at Red Rocks – there’s never a shortage of things to do in Las Vegas that doesn’t involve poker.

Expect to be Overwhelmed

The sheer size of the WSOP footprint is overwhelming to most first-time players. Three ballrooms, Pavilion, Brasilia and Amazon Rooms, house all of the action and the Pavilion Room is the largest poker room in the world with over 250 tables.

On top of the that there are the hundreds of support staff to run the event – dealers, floor supervisors, chip runners, massage therapists, cocktail servers, photographers and reporters all trying to do their jobs in the same tight space speaking six different languages.

Expect to Get Sick

There’s thousands of people from hundreds of places with varying degrees of hygiene and habits. Everyone is handling cards and chips and all that is passed around to everyone. The WSOFlu became a dreaded sickness that nearly everyone gets at some point in the series. It’s best to start taking vitamins now, keep Emergen-C and hand sanitzer in your bag and drink plenty of fluids.

You will routinely be exposed to drastic temperature tables from the 110+ degrees outside to the frigid confines of the Rio convention center – which leads to the next warning.

Expect to Be Cold

The Amazon Room is legendarily cold and the same goes for the entire convention space and as days progress and less people are in the rooms, that’s when the temperature truly drops. Be prepared, dress in layers and be sure to always have a sweatshirt.

In years past Daniel Negreanu carried a digital thermometer with him, proving temps dropped into the 60s and in the 2010 Main Event one table made headlines when a player bought Snuggies for the table and if someone busted they were expected to leave the Snuggie for the next player.

Expect to Rent a Car or Take Taxis Everywhere

Las Vegas city blocks are a measurement unique to themselves and are no where near as close to the same size as a block from your hometown. Sure, you can see the casino just down the street, but it’s much further than you think. The WSOP months are the most miserable for walking anywhere in Las Vegas with a heat index that averages over 110 degrees and a searing sun that will sap all of your energy.

Stay Away from the Pits and Clubs

Las Vegas is a 24/7 party 365 days a year – it never closes, you’re always invited and you can experience just about anything you want. The WSOP is only seven weeks and no party in Vegas is worth missing it.

The table games, clubs and all-you-can-drink alcohol will still be there after the WSOP shuts its doors. Do yourself and bankroll a favor and avoid these trappings – there’s plenty of other times to party.

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Paul Oresteen

Senior Writer: Paul Oresteen originally joined BLUFF in 2008 as an intern. He covered two World Series of Poker’s before leaving to join After a two year hiatus Oresteen returned to BLUFF in November 2012. Since starting as a poker journalist Oresteen has covered the World Series of Poker, WSOP Circuit, World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour. He graduated from Georgia State University with a B.A. in Communications in 2008.
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