Hello, guys, partypoker pro Dzmitry Urbanovich here,  I would like give you some tips about how to deal with your travel routine. The majority of poker players are lazy people and tend to procrastinate too much. Travel planning can’t wait; the sooner you sort it , the better it is for your wallet as for your mind. Everything I share with you is based on my own experience.

I’m going to talk about things related to live poker trips, but it also could be applied to any kind of travel. Normally, you should know about poker festival in advance. Many of events have the same dates and location every year. For example, the World Series of Poker (WSOP) is always held in Las Vegas during late May to mid July and Aussie Millions always starts in January in Melbourne.

I will share my travel planning process based on those two festivals; the already completed 2017 WSOP and upcoming 2018 Aussie Millions.

WSOP 2017

The full schedule was published during late January this year and I received this info immediately thanks to Twitter. My preparation started with schedule analysis.

Stage One: Choose what events you are going to play.

First, I made an Excel spreadsheet with a full list of bracelet events. Then I marked all events with different colours to make them easier to identify.

  • 1. Events that I couldn’t miss
  • 2. Events that I would like to play
  • 3. Events I was not going to play

Once I did that, it was time to calculate the cost of the total buy-ins, then put aside the money I planned to spend and waited for the poker festival to begin!

Flights and accommodation

The 2017 WSOP was the second time I’d been to Vegas. After my first experience in 2016, I realised that Rio was the best option for me to stay in for the series; this is the hotel and casino where all of the WSOP events are held. I thought that it would be a perfect choice for me. I played tournaments every single day and I can tell you that wasting money and time heading back to a different hotel on the strip at least twice a day is not the most enjoyable thing in the world.

You can book accommodation directly at property’s website or you can also use different travel agents. During my first WSOP, I spoke to many experienced people and they told me that the cheapest option is to book a room directly from the hotel. Do keep in mind that what I’m saying is valid only for those who have a VIP card with a certain status. I have a Diamond Card, which is the second-best status, thanks to spending over $200,000 in buy-ins in 2016. This card gives you a couple of free nights or discounts on your overall stay.

I procrastinated the hotel booking because I had to call the property and honestly, I don’t really like to talk via phone, but eventually, I booked the room on the April 5, two months in advance. Luckily for me, they still had rooms available for the whole stay, so everything went well.

I wasn’t able to book flights straight away since I didn’t know where I was going to fly from at the time the schedule was announced. In May, I flew to Canada for partypoker Millions North America and I stayed in Canada to play Powerfest online. The final event of partypoker festival online was on May 22, which meant I had one week of spare time before the WSOP, so I decided to visit New York. As soon as everything mentioned was clear for me I booked the flight from New York City to Las Vegas On April 26, some five weeks in advance.

Despite the fact I took so much care of the reservation for the outward journey, I decided not to book a return ticket for two specific reasons:

  • 1. I had no idea about when I had to come back. I had two options: flying home right after I bust from WSOP Main Event or staying there for an undefined time period to play some other poker tournaments in Vegas.
  • 2. I flew to Las Vegas from the USA, not from Europe. If I was flying from Europe, I would’ve bought a return ticket right away on a precise date, let’s say around the end of Day 4 of the Main Event, since it was likely I would bust from the Main Event during the first few days. In this way I could at least skip buying the return ticket, and if everything went to play, I could stay longer and buy a new ticket.

Remember that when you purchase return ticket from Europe to the USA it doesn’t cost much more than buying just one way; it doesn’t apply for budget airlines. I’ll give you more details on this later.

The WSOP didn’t go my way and I felt bad and tired of poker so I booked my return ticket while on tilt in the middle of June for July 16.

Aussie Millions 2018

I received the 2018 Aussie Million schedule via e-mail on August 5, but I didn’t make a spreadsheet this time because I love Australia and I was sure that I would have gone there anyway, even for just one event. The most important information for me was getting festival dates: these were from January 17 to February 5.

I booked the accommodation on September 19, four months in advance, and I started to look for plane tickets. Suitable flights were found and booked October 5.

Even though I had planned well in advance, a similar problem to by WSOP trip occurred in that I wasn’t sure about where I was going to fly from. I first had to know all my plans for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, then it took me quite long to choose from all the available options. I was finding new options every day, better than the previous day’s because there are several flights for different dates of departure and arrival. Finally, I found a flight I could have never dreamed of. It was a plane that should take off from Belarus and return there too; easily the best ever option for me. I would’ve never think that the cheapest option was flying from Minsk! Moreover, this flight had a 13-hour connection in China. This is a great way to visit a new country for me.

At time of writing this article, I only have to accomplish the last and the most important part: securing an Australian Visa. This process generally takes from six-to-nine weeks so I have to think about it in advance. You can always pay more for flights or hotels when you book them at the very last moment but it won’t work with the Visa.

In part two of this article, I will give you some hints and tips to use when booking flights and accommodation, including the websites I use and a few tricks to help save you money.

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