World Series of Poker … Or Bust!



By Lauren Failla

Well, it’s that time again: I’m off to the World Series of Poker! Every year thousands of poker players converge on the Rio in Las Vegas for that first moment of walking into the Amazon Room and experiencing that feeling like they’ve reached “poker heaven.” Unless you’ve experienced it, it’s hard to describe the overwhelming feeling that something great is going to happen, and it always does. This is the room where stars are born and current poker stars are humbled. It’s where women and men from all over the world get the chance to rub elbows with the best and have their chance at stardom.

Poker for me culminates every year in this spot, where all past bad beats and donkey calls are dress rehearsals for this moment. As a player, all of the tournaments, SNGs, cash games and home games have all been just practice for what I’m about to face. If you’re ever going to have the cards, play like an ace and make all the right moves, this is where you hope it happens.

It’s at the World Series that sex, age and economic status disappear. Yes, they still have ladies-only and seniors events, but this is when I love to look around the room and see how many women are playing mainstream tournaments and how many more are playing each year. I know in this economic environment that for most families the buy-ins are a stretch, but for those who can’t put down a minimum of $1,000 for an event, there are plenty of ways to “qualify” without taking out a second mortgage.

One of the best ways to accomplish this is by playing satellites. The WSOP has a specific area dedicated to satellites, which range from $125 to $1,000, so just one win of a $125 satellite can enter you into an event. Ladies, heed my advice: I have done this for the past four years and it’s afforded me multiple opportunities to play in a number of events during the WSOP.

For example, last year when I arrived I won a $125 satellite and bought into the ladies event. I would go on to cash in 63rd place (out of about 1,200 players) and had a payday of almost $4,000.

Also, there are many other properties running tournaments at the same time as the WSOP. There are some real bargain tournaments where you can get good value and lots of chips. A little research goes along way so log on to the Internet or pick up a poker magazine to find the best deals.

So, as I finish packing my suitcase, I wish all those ladies who are playing in any events all the luck and please send me an email and let me know how you did. We want to make sure that you get some recognition. Wish me luck!

— Lauren Failla writes a monthly column for Ante Up, tracking the progress of women in poker. Email her at

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