WSOP 2018: What to Bring to the World Series of Poker - A Checklist
The 2018 World Series of Poker will be here sooner than you think, with the first bracelet events starting May 30 — check out the full schedule here.
Good for you. You've made the plunge, ponied up the price of a WSOP entry, and bought yourself a seat. For many of you this might be the largest single investment in a poker tournament you'll make for the year, and perhaps even in your life. What can you do to maximize your chances of success?
You may not be the best poker player at the table (of course, maybe you are), but you can at least be the best prepared. What follows is a list of things you might want to bring with you to the table along with a brief explanation of each. Most are physical objects you can carry inside a small bag or backpack, but toward the end of the list I've also included some "attitudinal" things to bring.
I compiled the list after communicating with many veterans of the WSOP. If you're wondering why you need to bring anything to a poker game, just realize that any time away from the table to address needs that develop as you are there is time you risk being blinded off. Better to be prepared and bring what you need or might need while playing.
Sure, there are snack bars and even a pretty good cafeteria set up for tournament players. But that means walking over, standing in line, and risking the possibility that you won't return in time. Better to have at least some basic food with you. These should be things you can easily eat with your hands. Some popular items are energy bars, nuts, dried fruit, bananas, apple slices, and beef jerky.
2. Water / Beverage
True, waitresses constantly make the rounds. And all beverages are free (though you are expected to tip $1 or so). Even so, it's cheaper and faster to bring your own water or other beverage. You need not bring lots of bottles. A refillable bottle does fine. You can also make this juice, smart water, or some energy drink. But be mindful of the fact that the more you drink the more you'll be needing to make a run to the bathroom. And that involves a walk and during the breaks a possible wait in line.
3. Analgesic (Pain Killers)
Poker players get headaches, neck pain, and backaches while they play. Aspirin, Tylenol, Advil, and other pain killers might help relieve these or some other unexpected pain. You might also gain a great deal of affection and soft play from grateful opponents if you help them relieve their headaches.
4. Gum, Candy, Cough Drops
The dry air of the heavily air conditioned room creates many minor and annoying health problems, things like a dry mouth or sore throat. You might want something to help with that.
5. Lip Balm
This is useful, especially if you are a talker at the table.
6. Card Protector / Spinner
Whether you want it to protect your hole cards from being mistakenly gathered up by the dealer, to serve as a talisman or good luck charm, to provide you a way to keep your A.D.D. at bay as you spin it repeatedly, or to help you randomize your close calls, a card protector or spinner was frequently mentioned as something not to forget to bring to the tournament poker table.
The large payment was for your tournament seat. But for tips, for food, for tipping the waitress, for settling side bets, for another tournament or a cash game if you bust out, you'll want your cash.
Do you have any drugs that you have to take during the day or at night? Tournaments frequently last for many hours, sometimes into the wee hours of the night. Make sure you have with you any medication you might need to take.
Everyone mentioned this. A phone is nearly an appendage like an arm or leg. They also mentioned loading it with the right type of music and apps, especially poker related apps like shove-fold tables.
Long sessions mean that your battery will almost surely need to be recharged or, at least temporarily replaced. There may not be a charging station nearby. Better to have an extra battery with you in case you can't keep your phone charged.
11. Headphones / Earbuds
Many players swear by their music. Others just want to block out the inane and sometimes distracting jabbering of other players. On the other hand, many players prefer to avoid anything that interferes with their ability to listen to and engage others at the table. If you're of the former category, make sure to bring the right equipment.
12. Lightweight Jacket
Though Las Vegas can be 115 degrees outside during the WSOP, the air conditioning inside can often be uncomfortably cool. A zip-up jacket makes it easy to quickly adjust to the temperature in the room as it fluctuates (as it will).
If you're eating, it's nice to have something with which to clean off your hands (especially since you'll be handling chips and cards). But even if you wouldn't think of eating at the table, it is often refreshing to wipe your face and hands with a cool, moist towel. It can also wake you up at the end of a long session.
Some people swear by the emotional and mental benefits of different aromatics. Some are said to wake you up, while others are supposed to help your mental acuity. Still others are reported to help you relax. They come in small bottles and can be applied to parts of your body or just inhaled. I honestly don't know if they work, but I can't imagine they can hurt.
15. Eye Drops
The air conditioning further dries out the already dry air. Moisturizing drops can be invaluable.
16. Contact Lens Solution / Backup Glasses
If you wear contacts, you'll want a backup plan if your eyes start to rebel against a really long day of use.
17. Support Crew
It can be very helpful to have a buddy or two ready to do research on opponents, or grab you a cool beverage or something to quiet a hunger pang. Having friends there can also be useful, during a break, for discussing a hand or offering emotional support. At the very least you want their contact information in your phone so you can text in between hands and during breaks.
18. Your Best Game
Some mentioned practice, reading, coaching, and the like — all means to help amp up your game so you're playing at your peak on tournament day. But whatever you think you need to do to get your game in shape for the big time, do that!
19. A Well Rested Brain and Body
It's easy to be up late in Las Vegas. There are nearly limitless ways to play poker or party all night long. But before buying into a WSOP tournament, you'll want to be at your best. And that means a getting a good night's sleep.
20. A Desire to Win
This seems obvious. Of course you want to win. Even so, many of the people I polled about what to bring to the WSOP mentioned this. Some people have a pregame ritual of some meditation, words of affirmation, prayer, or whatever. Believing in yourself can help keep you focused and put you in the best mental state to do well in a tournament.
A special thanks to the great players of the xnpg poker group for helping to assemble this checklist.
Ashley Adams has been playing poker for 50 years and writing about it since 2000. He is the author of hundreds of articles and two books, Winning 7-Card Stud (Kensington 2003) and Winning No-Limit Hold'em (Lighthouse 2012). He is also the host of poker radio show House of Cards. See www.houseofcardsradio.com for broadcast times, stations, and podcasts.