Thanks to Minnesota being one of the only states in the country with a gambling age of 18, I’m one week away from having played poker for 10 years. I’m two weeks away from fulfilling a dream I’ve had for that entire 10 years and then some. I’m going to be playing in the World Series of Poker. If I were you I’d expect several poker posts leading up to the event in order to answer some of the questions I’ve been asked about the tournament and to calm my own nerves about how quickly the date is approaching.
To most people the WSOP is just the main event. That’s what gets televised on ESPN and what gives out the biggest cash prize, in 2014 1st place took home 10 million. In reality it’s a full month and a half of the best poker on the planet. It’s 69 events covering all the popular poker variants at buy ins ranging from $500-$100,000 starting 5/31 and going to 7/17. All 50 states and 80 countries had players in the 2015 main event alone. To win an event and earn a WSOP bracelet is an accomplishment recognized in every poker room regardless of stakes or language.
I’m getting slightly ahead of myself though. In all my previous poker posts I’ve discussed cash games which are different than the WSOP tournaments. At a cash game you sit down with however much money you’d like, you play for however long you’d like, the stakes at the table don’t change, if you lose everything you can rebuy, and when you’ve decided you’ve had enough however many chips you have in front of you is the amount of money you walk away with. In a tournament there’s a set buy in ahead of time, you’re given tournament chips which have no cash value and are really just a method of score keeping, the stakes slowly raise as the tournament progresses to force play, when someone is out of chips they’re out of the tournament(there are exceptions to that, but right now I’m not worried about that), and you’re given money at the end based on how long you were able to last against everyone else.
The event I’ll be playing is event #22. It’ll be fixed limit hold’em, which is the style I feel most comfortable with, and the buy in will be $1,500. Looking at last year’s tournament statistics: 660 people entered, the final 72 made money, and first place was $196,055. It takes place over three days starting on the 14th with the first days being ten hours of play each and the final day playing down to a winner no matter how long that may take. The final table, the last 10 players, was broadcast live online last year and will be again this year.
As I said, I’ve had the goal of playing in this event for over a decade, and there’s something inherently dangerous about trying to fulfill a dream that you’ve worked so hard towards. You could fail spectacularly. It’s distinctly possible I could finish last. I could take my shot at proving the countless hours and millions of hands haven’t been wasted, that I’m actually good at this beyond my local card room, and be soundly slapped down. Of course I could win, and you’d never hear the end of it.
If I’m realistic for a moment, I know there’s no way I’m going to be the best in the room. In a tournament like this though it’s not always the most skilled player who wins. There’s a great deal of mental endurance that comes into play when you’re talking about doing a task for 10 straight hours and since this is poker, we can’t ignore that luck and variance have their own roles as well.
My goal for this event is to make it to day 2. If I can pull that off it will have been a success in my book. That’s still a tough goal, so it will push me, but it is achievable. At least that’s what I’m telling myself now. No matter what though, playing in the WSOP will make one hell of a story. This time in two weeks I’ll be sitting down in a hotel in Vegas to tell you what I hope will only be part 1.