The 2011 World Series of Poker kicks off at the end of May. Even if your trip doesn’t put you in the Las Vegas desert until the middle of June, the planning phase should already be in high gear. Summer in Sin City is busy and hectic, especially when it’s flooded with poker players!
As a woman in Las Vegas in the heat of the summer, I’ve learned numerous lessons through the years, and I’ll share some of the most important ones here.
The WSOP and all cash games are held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino, but it is at the far end of the Convention Center. The most convenient way to enter the Rio for summer poker is at the rear of the Rio. There is a cab station there, as well as massive outdoor parking lot and a valet stand. Keep in mind, though, that the valet fills up quickly on some days when events like $1,000 buy-in no-limit hold’em events draw thousands of players, family, friends, media, and staff. Arrive early on those days for valet, or be prepared to park at the far end of the back lot. Cabs are aplenty, though, and they will drop you at the red carpet area of the Convention Center entrance.
Be prepared for drastic temperature changes. Outside of the Rio, it might be anywhere from 90 to 110 degrees, which is perfect for those summer dresses, flip-flops, and tank tops. But inside of the Rio, it can be downright chilly, especially in the ballrooms filled with poker players. The air conditioning is usually running at full speed, which can feel even colder if you happen to be seated near a vent. There are reasons that pictures of WSOP players sometimes show them in scarves and heavy jackets. Even the hallways and the casino itself can be cold, so dress appropriately. If that sundress is a must-wear, be prepared to be cold while looking good. But if you want to look like you’ve been there before, wear your jacket and maybe even throw a scarf in your purse.
Speaking of fashion, those high heels might be cute, but they can be painful when doing a lot of walking, as is required at the Rio. Even the rear entrance requires some walking to the door, a trek down the main hallway, and walking the massive ballrooms. Taking a walk up to the casino for a restaurant or a drink is even further. Consider the style versus comfort conundrum before dressing for a day at the Rio. Many a women are caught carrying their shoes and going barefoot by the end of the day because they made the wrong choice.
Consider toting some favorite snacks with you to the Rio. The “poker kitchen” is open all day, every day, and well into the evening, but some of the items can be pricey. If you have a favorite protein or granola bar, almond mix, or other non-perishable food item, as well as your own bottles of water, it might be worth carrying a bigger purse and bringing those snacks with you to save a few dollars.
With the aforementioned temperature differences between the exterior and interior of the Rio, some bodies have a difficult time making the adjustment. In addition, a poker room is the perfect place to pick up random germs, as chips, tournament tickets, and money are exchanged constantly. Many people are stricken with the “Vegas flu” at the WSOP, but there are ways to prevent it. Not only are the basics of washing your hands and carrying hand sanitizer important, but supplements like Zycam and Airborne may also help fend off those germs. Keep your immune system in peak condition because playing poker with cold symptoms only hurts your game.
Vegas is a tempting place. There are numerous things to do that range from pool time to club nights to gambling fun in the casinos. But the late nights, drinking, and overeating at the buffets can lead to a very sluggish feeling at the poker tables. It becomes very important to separate your poker time from your fun time. Make sure to get plenty of rest and proper nutrition the night before and the day of a tournament, but try to plan the trip with some extra non-poker days at the beginning or end in order to enjoy some of what Vegas has to offer. It’s very possible to live it up and play the best poker of your life in the same trip.
For our final installment next month, we’ll answer any questions you submit to me at email@example.com and provide some last-minute WSOP information.