Whether this is your first trip to the World Series or you’re a regular, mental preparation will help your performance.
So before you go, you’ll need to prep. Go to the WSOP website and get a sense for what is going on; make your travel reservations, being sure to get to Vegas with enough time to acclimate and play whatever satellites or other games you like.
Plan your exit strategy; the worst thing is having a plane reservation home before the final table ends in your tournament.
If you bust out and still have a poker stake, there will be plenty to do. Make sure your hotel reservations are in order and you know how you are going to get to and from the WSOP every day.
It’s not too early to start some stamina training; 12-16 hours a day of poker tournaments, plus whatever else you play is going to be grueling.
OK, your travel, hotel and ground transportation are in order. You’ve decided if you are going by yourself or with friends or family. Remember if you do well, you will be spending most of the time at the table.
And you get there. First thing to do is attune yourself to the setting. Take a couple of laps around the rooms; get a feel for the place and the event, the sounds, the smells. Check out food and restrooms. Maybe play some cash games, a satellite or a smaller tournament. Get yourself into the right headspace.
The night before, try to unwind. Don’t drink or do drugs. Eat well and get enough rest/sleep.
When you wake up do your morning ritual and take care of any outstanding at-home business or, if with family or friends, then that business.
Take whatever you need to the tournament: a backpack, something for a headache, a fresh shirt, power bars, some other energy foods, whatever. Get your ticket, find your seat and then take another couple of laps.
Do your breathing exercises. Practice your relaxation.
Analyze your game. Try to fix leaks but don’t fiddle too much at the last minute. Some say to not even read anything new or watch any new videos. You don’t want to go into the WSOP with untested skills.
Before you go, make sure you practice relaxed activation. Increase your patience level. Good poker can be hours of boredom followed by moments of pure exhilaration, so practice all the techniques I have been suggesting.
Finally, you must avoid making bad mental decisions. Fatigue will set in and tilt may become a factor. You are not tied to the table. Walk around if need be, do some breathing exercises. You may miss a few hands but if you don’t take a break, you may get felted on a bad mental decision.
Keep your head in the game and have a blast. The circus is coming to town.
— Dr. Stephen Bloomfield is a licensed psychologist and avid poker player. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.