My Trip to the WSOP’s Main Event

by Lou on July 2, 2007

OK, it’s not exactly an eleventh hour decision, but it did come late in the game. I’m leaving for Las Vegas this Wednesday to play in the WSOP’s main event, the $10,000 no-limit hold’em tournament.

While I don’t expect attendance to eclipse, or even come close to last year’s record crowds, I do anticipate a pretty good crowd. So does Harrah’s; they just added another Day One to the schedule.

I don’t care how many people show up to play. It’s insane to look at the size of the field and think that you’ve got to beat them to win the WSOP. You just have to concentrate on the players at your table, since you can’t do anything about those sitting at other tables, or those opponents who are playing their Day One on another day.

You can’t do anything about anyone else until you’re closing in on the pay ladder. Then you can take one of two tacks: You can tighten up, hope for others to bust out before you, and back your way onto the pay ladder, or you can get very aggressive and raise most of the time, knowing you’ll probably be able to fold any opponents who are not playing really big stacks and are looking to limp into as WSOP payday.

The proper strategy depends. It depends on your own objective for the WSOP—do you want to win it, or will you be happy just to make the money—how big a stack you and your opponent each have, your relative playing skills, and a variety of other things too. That’s a bridge I’ll cross when I come to it—if I come to it.

I have a love-hate relationship with the WSOP. I love what’s it’s done to advance poker, but I don’t enjoy big crowds. I have an agoraphobic side to my personality and I abhor crowded malls, airports around Thanksgiving, and I don’t much care for the encroaching throngs that make it difficult to move anywhere in the Amazon room during the WSOP.

But I’ll deal with it, and I’ll do so in a way that’s good for my poker. I’ll zero in on my table, my game, and whatever I think I have some ability to control or influence, while I try to ignore everything else around me.

That still may not be enough to survive to the final table, to survive to the pay ladder, or even to survive Day One. While I know that much of what happens is out of one’s control, I still hate losing. The Walk of Shame as you get up from the table and leave the tournament area embarrasses me. Yet everyone endures it; everyone, that is, but the one guy good enough and fortunate enough to win it all.

I’ll blog about my experience at the WSOP in days to come. But I’m not there yet. I’ll throw my clothes and laptop in the back of my car on July 4 and drive across the desert the back way— from Palm Desert through 29 Palms, Amboy, Kelso, Cima, then Morningstar Mine Road and ultimately Nipton Road, which eventually links up with I-15 and the short glide from there to Las Vegas. It’s a deserted series of back roads, which even includes a stretch of old Route 66. You won’t find many rest stops, or gas stations, or even any other cars, except for the occasional highway patrolman, parked on the edge of the desert, looking for another victim to feed on.

I know. I usually wind up going to traffic school about once a year to wipe those speeding tickets off my license.

For me, the main event is a free roll. My buy-in was paid by a company in Israel I’ve done some work for. It was a generous thing for them to do. Now I’ll have to repay them by making every right play I can to justify their confidence in me and help promote their site.

Stay tuned.

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