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Plan Well, Sleep Well and Eat Well – My Tips for a Successful World Series

It’s World Series time and much of the poker world has converged on Vegas. Whether it’s your first time or your twentieth, and whether you’re a pro, a recreational player, or something in between, it’s always a challenge to make the most of your time here. With so many tournaments and cash games running round the clock, you have to thoughtfully prioritize or you’re certain to end up spending your time in ways you regret. I used to be terrible at this. In my 12th summer in Vegas I feel like I’m beginning to get the hang of it, but it’s very much still a skill I’m actively working to improve. In this blog, I’m going to share a few ideas, habits, and rules of thumb that have helped me.

Prioritise What you Want to Play

First of all, have a clear idea of what your priorities are. Maybe you’re in town for a weekend to play a particular tournament, or for a week with a handful of tournaments you’re interested in. Maybe you’re going to try to play every WSOP event and chase player of the year and/or side bets. Maybe you intend to focus on cash games. Whatever it is, make sure to arrive with a clear idea of that in mind and don’t let the temptation of something you can do immediately interfere with planning around doing what you came here to do. It can be hard to quit a cash game and go to bed, but if a tournament you really want to play starts the next morning, you’ll be glad you did.

Fewer Good Hours Instead of More Bad Hours

That brings me to my next topic: sleep. Like it or not, you’re going to have to spend a good chunk of your poker trip asleep. For most people, at least 6 hours a night on average. I need more like 8. I can cheat a little and get away with less for a night or two, but my play will deteriorate and eventually I’ll need to pay off my sleep debt with a 12 hour binge. It’s important to honestly self-assess this sort of thing and not shoot yourself in the foot by playing more bad hours instead of fewer good ones.

Also, remember that going straight from the poker table to dreamland is impossible for almost everyone. No matter how tired I am, I’m never asleep less than 2 hours after I quit. Usually closer to 3. And on the other end, of course, you’ll probably need about an hour to wake up, shower, and get to a tournament. For me, this means that if I’m still playing 12 hours before I have to start playing again, it’s likely to be a night that I don’t get enough sleep. Sometimes tournament organizers schedule things in a way that gives us no choice, but if I’m taking a hand in a cash game at midnight with a tournament to play at noon the next, it had better be a very good game.

Let’s Talk About Food

Lastly, let’s talk about food. When you’re playing poker 12+ hours a day, it can be tricky to eat in any sort of reasonable way. It’s certainly possible to eat all of your food at the table. And if you’re thoughtful and disciplined, you can even eat pretty healthy while doing this. But it begins to wear on your sanity pretty quickly. Try to set aside some time to eat a real meal in a restaurant, or if you’ve got a living situation with a kitchen, even cook something at home. Personally, I like to kill two birds with one stone by slotting this into my wind down time between finishing a session and going to bed.

Much of this may seem like common sense, because it is. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do. When you find yourself at the Bellagio at 5am with a cheeseburger in one hand and dropping your big blind onto the felt with the other, wondering how you’re going to be at the Rio in 7 hours, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

So, good luck! I hope some of this information is helpful.


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