Poker has long been a pursuit played out across continents and from the original games on the riverboats of the Mississippi to the game most of us enjoy from the comfort of our home or the Wifi of any worldly outpost, poker has shown it has wings. In fact, since 2003 and the infamous ‘Moneymaker Effect’, poker has rarely been bigger, with countries all over the world growing their poker-playing population at a great rate. Territories such as China, India and South America, once outposts of the global game, have become hotspots for emerging talent. But how can you experience all the poker world has to offer? Stamp your passport, store that lucky scarf on top of your overhead luggage and strap in tight, because you’re going for a ride!
The first thing anyone should do as a poker player who wants to travel is to start playing more poker in your own front room or office. One of the best ways to travel the world is by winning your seat to big tournaments for a fraction of the price via online satellites. Partypoker offers lots of ways to do just this, with satellites to the UK-wide Grand Prix Poker Tour, Caribbean Poker Party and other tours sat right there in the lobby. Getting involved in a poker holiday for a small cost is a great idea, and not least because you could win big at the tournament itself. Being part of an exciting tour often comes with plenty of other bonuses too, such as a players party where you can meet like-minded individuals or swap stories with players who could become life-long friends. Best of all, some satellite tournaments include a package as part of the prize, not just a Main Event seat. You can’t get a better value seat into the action!
Tour the Country
While the temptation might be to start playing satellites to that Caribbean Poker Party as a matter of urgency, dreaming of a Mojito and a sun-lounger needn’t necessarily be your first port of call. Many people, let alone poker players, see far too little of their home country. While it’s great to travel the world, starting out closer to home can keep down those pesky expenses costs and build you an inner circle of friends that are closer to home. Travelling within your own country has many early advantages over plane-hopping long haul around this giant spinning rock. The currency doesn’t need changing, you speak the lingo and should you get lost, you can probably call on a non-poker buddy to help you out. Keeping it local in the early days of travelling to play poker is +EV.
Make the Main
Once you’ve qualified for a Main Event on a tour that is a little further flung, it can be something to truly enjoy. Many professionals in the game look back on the more formative parts of their career as a highlight, and winning at poker is never as exciting as doing it as part during that first flush of passion. Throw yourself into poker if you win a Main Event seat abroad in a satellite or have decided the time is right for a poker trip. Take it from us, winning money in your own country feels great, but travelling to another country and bossing a cash table or running deep in a tournament when you’re known as the exotic foreign player is quite a boost to the poker ego. We could all do with one of those from time to time, so keep putting yourself in the position to play in another country and when you do get the chance to dip your toes in a different pool with sharks you don’t even recognize let alone understand, jump in with both feet. It’s great fun!
Remember to Prepare
Once you become experienced at playing poker abroad, you start to develop a kind of mental checklist for how to prepare. Make sure you sleep instead of partying during or before tournament days. Eat well, stay hydrated, make sure you have issues like passports/transfers/currency all sorted out well in advance and of course, research the game(s) you’re heading into, from tournament structure to game choice in a busy cash room. But preparation is about more than the essentials. When you do it regularly, travelling as a poker player is like slipping into a persona, adopting a dynamic alter-ego which is just for you. Taking care to prepare physically for a tournament, eating the foods that give you the most energy, both mental and physical and taking on vitamins, fresh fruit and vegetables and rejecting caffeine and poor hotels are a massive part of this. Think of yourself as creating a superhero from scratch, but your special skill is winning at poker, and you are building ways to optimize that skill by strengthening areas of your personality and lifestyle around it.
Cruise to Victory
Playing cards on a ship doesn’t just take you back to those early years of the game when poker developed atop a rolling wave or a rolling deck. It can be an incredible experience to take part in a poker cruise, and while they are rarer these days than fancy festivals put on from Barcelona to Prague and Monaco to the Caribbean, they are enormous fun to take part in. Do some research and take a slow boat with fast action at the tables and you won’t regret it. We’re not going overboard to suggest that some of the greatest and most famous poker anecdotes of all time came while on the ocean wave.
Hone Your Hotel
Your hotel room when abroad should be a shrine to winning, not a pit more akin to housing a loser. When you book your room to stay in a foreign country, there are several essential questions you will probably want to ask. Do you have great Wifi? What is included for the money you’re paying? Are the taxi services likely to take you to and from the airport via their cousin’s in the East side of the City or not? Honing your hotel experience takes a lot of time, and it’s not until you sleep on a mattress that Goofy would reject for a pin-cushion, forget your fourth phone charger that year or lock yourself outside at 4am again that you really understand that. But being aware that each trip you make should be a step nearer a setting-up operation that comes as second nature rather than giving you a headache you don’t need is paramount.
Win the World Series
Tough ask, we know, but planning to win the World Series should be every poker traveler’s dream. Las Vegas has so many ways to exist, you could pick a different one each year for a decade and still have more to do on your next trip. From hiking Red Rock to partying all night, all week and all month as part of the same dream-haze journey is part of the magic of going to Vegas, but most poker players will go to experience the legendary $10,000 entry World Series of Poker Main Event. With last year’s winner taking home $10 million, it could hardly be a more exciting time to pitch yourself forward into the madness. Should you make the final ‘November Nine’, your name will go down in legend. Should you win The Main Event, then your life will never be the same again. What have you got to lose?
Above all, we wish you well on your poker travels. Send yourself postcards from different resorts and store them in a drawer – one day you might look back on your poker tourism and feel as warm as a Caribbean beach!