Let’s go to the WSOP! (Not so fast, Charlie)

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May is upon us and that means the start of the World Series of Poker. We’re pros now, so we better go out there, right? Slow your roll, Charlie. We’re low-stakes cash-game pros and we might want to avoid the WSOP.
I remember my first summer at the WSOP when I was playing full time.

I wasn’t being backed and I didn’t have much of a bankroll.

I went out to Vegas and loved every second of it. I was spending lots of money and playing a ton. But I wasn’t winning and my bankroll got depleted. Why wasn’t I winning?

TOUGH CASH GAMES: Every summer, the largest group that makes the pilgrimage to Vegas Summer Camp is slightly better than your average recreational donkey.

There are plenty of recreational donkeys that go out and take a quick shot at Colossus or some other such lottery-style event, of course.

You’ll notice, though, the most of the players you’ve identified as winning players at your home casino will be gone. They are all in the same place.

LOCAL GAMES THRIVE: So if all the best players are in Vegas playing the WSOP cash games with a bunch of others that don’t qualify as novices, they leave behind a void.

Games that you might normally be seated with three competent pros now only have one.

Your hourly rate will soar and your standard deviation will become smaller, which helps stabilize your bankroll.

TOURNEY TEMPTATION: The WSOP is the only place where you can buy in to a tournament for less than $1K and have a chance to win $1M. Outside of the WSOP, tons of properties will run tournaments with massive guarantees and sometimes massive overlays.

The problem is these tournaments are large and therefore variance is massive. You’re only setting aside a small amount each hour for a tournament fund, right?

The most likely scenario is you don’t win one of these events and since the worst players are always playing in the tournaments over the summer, you’ll feel much more at home at these tables.

FIND THE BEST GAMES: The most profitable games might not be in the most obvious of places. They’re probably exactly where everyone else doesn’t think to look.

Popular tourist casinos that aren’t convenient or affiliated with the WSOP often can be a great location to check out (think MGM Grand or Mandalay Bay).

Don’t be afraid to change games, change locations or go home and wish you’d listened to me in the first place.

— Brent Philbin is a poker pro who lives in South Florida. You can reach him at Brent.Philbin@gmail.com.