It’s time to hit the road, poker style

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Whether it’s for the bracelet, the ring, the cash, the fame, or simply to tweet a brag, poker players are drawn to big tournaments.

And that’s why this month we present our first special advertorial Travel Guide. On pages 40-45, you’ll find descriptions of some of the big events planned for 2011 in Ante Up’s coverage area. We’ve also provided a clip-out calendar you can magnet to the fridge to help plan your travel plans for the coming year.

It’s a packed schedule, and our list just scratches the surface of what’s available. Plenty more are sure to be announced as the tournament calendar gets more crowded during the year. And that’s an interesting dilemma itself.

Some poker room managers have mentioned to Ante Up that the tournament schedule has become too robust, that events that had been special in the past are no longer musts on the schedule as the number of poker rooms — and the events they hold — balloon. There’s less of a reason to get on the road or into a plane these days when there’s a big event right in your back yard.

It’s an interesting point, and certainly not one without a lesson. The more events created, the less special they all become. But that’s largely academic. At the end of the day, there are far more players without some hardware to show off than there are poker players with some shiny bling. And as grinders ourselves, the more events on the calendar means the more opportunities for all of us to become stars. And that’s never a bad thing.

You’ll notice our calendar doesn’t just include the biggest events. Ante Up was created to give a voice to all poker players, not just those fortunate enough to play at the highest levels. That remains as important to us today as it did they day we launched. Satellites can give us a shot at those big paydays, but monthly or even weekly events in our favorite rooms will always remain our best shot at the immortality we all crave.

And we’re also pleased to bring back our popular Ante Up Poker Tour for a second year. We’ve revamped it this year to make each event a little more special, but you’ll still find plenty of chances to earn points for our Player of the Year award, and get your face on the cover of this magazine. Please support the rooms who host these events and who appear in our Travel Guide, as they are the same ones who make it possible for us to produce this high-quality magazine for the cheapest price possible … free.

To help you prepare for the rigors of traveling to and playing in major events, our lead strategy columnist Lee Childs offers some strong advice on what you can do to achieve success in this pressure cooker. And he knows what he’s talking about: He criss-crosses the country often each year, and has made final tables in the World Series of Poker Main Event and World Poker Tour, and has a WSOP circuit ring to boot.

Here are a few travel tips:
• Always ask for the tournament or poker room rate when booking your hotel. If there’s no hotel attached, be sure to ask whether they have negotiated rates at nearby hotels.
• Look into junkets or casino-operated charters, which bundle hotel rooms, airfare and other perks into one package price. Sometimes the price of these are less than airfare.
• Consider nearby all-suite hotels, which might offer a kitchen in your room. With the stress of playing in big events, a home-cooked meal might just be the advantage you need.

Travel safely and good luck. We’re looking forward to having you with that trophy in our pages. We’ll see you at the tables.

Christopher Cosenza and Scott Long