Whether this is your first time attending the WSOP, or your 10th…it’s vital that you prepare. And this goes beyond just studying and improving your play. There are many things to consider to make sure you are truly prepared for the craziness that is the WSOP. With that said, here are the top 5 things to keep in mind when preparing for the WSOP.

Improve Your Strategy

It should go without saying that your strategy is what holds the greatest chance of getting you the final table. Use this time to ensure your strategy is as strong as possible. This may mean brushing up on your classic MTT books like “Harrington On Holdem” or watching videos from our Membership. But along with studying you also want to practice playing more tournaments.

Just know that there is a huge difference between playing the weekly $135 at your local cardroom and navigating a multi-day event at the WSOP. Get familiar with playing larger field events (ideally with at least 1k entrants) so that you can get used to playing longer periods of time and managing various stages of the tournament (like the bubble, pay-jumps, etc.)

If you have online poker available to you, use it. If you are in the US, maybe throw some money on a site like Bovada and play some of their small buy-in/large field tournaments. You don’t need to play the Sunday Million to get a good feel for playing tournaments…even a $2 buy-in tournament with 1.3k runners makes for good practice!

juicy stakes lobby

Sleep Schedule

Sleep is king. It’s the time when our brain gets to reset and our body gets to heal itself. But many players make the mistake of abandoning sleep during the WSOP. If you are going to take the WSOP seriously, you NEED to have a sleep schedule.

Leading up to the WSOP you should work on developing good sleep habits, getting around 8 hours of sleep each night. Part of this is to establish a routine, and the other part is to make sure you start the WSOP with a proper amount of sleep. But you want to know the honest truth? If you make it deep on day 2, you will play until midnight. Even if you had a solid sleep schedule of “go to bed at 10p and wake up fresh at 7a”…it’s going to go right out the window when you get to your hotel room at 12:30a and are mentally wide-awake due to playing well all day.

So you have two options:

  1. If possible, start developing a sleep schedule that goes from like 1a-10a.
  2. Develop a pre-bed routine that helps you fall asleep quickly.

The second option is really important. Make it a habit before you sleep to always put on a relaxing playlist, or maybe use a white noise machine…whatever works best for you.  Start developing that habit now so when you get to your room at 1a you can go from wide-awake to sleepy within 30 minutes. And this is even more important if you are traveling to the WSOP from another country and thus are dealing with jetlag. Trust me…sleep is your friend! If you’ve never tried it, a poker mediation practice can also help you with this:

How To Meditate In Poker

Food, Snacks, And Beer

Play starts at noon, there is one dinner break in the evening (only 60 minutes), and that’s it. There will be some drink servers that come around from time to time, but think for a moment about the logistics of a few folks serving thousands of players simultaneously. Essentially, food and drink are your responsibility…so plan accordingly.

There are two major things that you want to avoid when it comes to your WSOP diet:

  1. Fatty/greasy food
  2. Alcohol

Stick to water and healthy foods whenever possible. Nuts, fruits, veggies (I know, right?) are all good options for quick snacking. Bring a backpack or bag with you and fill it with snacks and water so you can stay fueled during play. Remember to monitor your intake to ensure you don’t stuff yourself (yes, this includes dinner break!) and also make sure you watch your fluids to ensure you don’t need to go to the restroom every 6 minutes.

One quick tip is to watch your intake of caffeine/energy drinks/coffee, etc. You don’t want to crash early on, nor do you want to drink caffeine too close to bed and ruin that sleep schedule you’ve developed.

Pee Breaks

After every 2 hours of play there is a 20 minute break. Now think about this for a moment…there are about 4 restrooms in walking distance from the poker room. There are going to be hundreds of players rushing for those restrooms to try and relieve themselves within that 20 minute window. How do you think that’s going to work?

poker-restrooms

Hint: it’s a damn madhouse. I suggest hitting the restroom at different times, even if that means missing a few hands or paying off a few antes (assuming they aren’t a huge percentage of my stack). You don’t want to get stuck waiting in a huge line just to use the restroom…especially if you’ve been sucking down water for the last 2 hours and really have to go.

Have Fun

Chances are that you won’t win each event you play. Which means you’re going to have downtime assuming you don’t have an endless bankroll to play every event. You can use this downtime to play cash games (which are excellent at this time of year), or you can go enjoy Vegas. I suggest getting away from your hotel room when possible and doing some exploring. Open up Yelp, ask around, or just go walk around the strip and you’ll quickly see what’s available.

Remember, the WSOP is a time for both work and play. Once the work is done (aka, you dusted your stack), it’s time to enjoy yourself until the next event. Prepare yourself by getting your diet and sleep schedule regulated, make sure to study and play many MTTs before hand, and monitor your in and outtake while playing. If you do that, you give yourself a good advantage. And if you can win all of your coinflips…you’ll have a tremendous summer!

James "SplitSuit" Sweeney
James is one of the busiest poker coaches around. He wrote DFRP, c0-founded Red Chip Poker, has made 300+ videos and coached 500+ students. Learn more about James
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