Tips to bring your ‘A’ game with you to the WSOP

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Summer’s here and we all know what that means. Projections are 100K-plus players will converge on Vegas for the World Series. If you decide to go — read Brent Philbin’s excellent column in the May issue on why you might not want to go — here are a few tips to help bring your “A” game with you.

BREAKS: After getting knocked out of a tournament, give yourself a break. Don’t jump back in the satellite line or start playing ring games. Your poker brain is tired. Get some rest. This could be the most profitable advice you’ll ever get about poker in Vegas.

Even the most disciplined player will find his A game disappeared after a disappointing tournament experience.

REST: Veterans of the game understand their limitations. They have a plan and are organized enough to stick to their guns. If you fall into the category of out-of-town player, naturally you’ll feel pressed to get in as much time as you can.

TACTICS: Record any significant hands. Tournaments are long and grueling. With each hour passed, we’re less likely to have a vivid memory of a hand that deserves accurate analysis.

Write down these hands on your break. They deserve scrutiny.

PLAN: Imagine you’re at Level 4 in an event. What’s your chip count in relation to the blinds? What’s your plan if you’re deep? If you have less than 10 big blinds, do you have a short-stack strategy?

Keep track of these things. The pro you’re up against is aware of his situation at all times. By holding yourself accountable to a plan, your results are bound to improve.

STEP UP: Your bankroll-management chart says you belong in a certain game. Yes, bankroll management is important, but you have a replenishing bankroll because you have a job. Take a shot. You might be surprised as to how well you play when confronted at a higher level.

Attending the WSOP is often a dream come true. To me, it feels like grown-up camp. Finding yourself in the main event is a dream for many and poker is the only game in the world where a player can work hard and achieve high status at any age.

One simply cannot decide to become a tennis pro. These endeavors start at an early age. Dreams do come true; it could happen to you.

— Mark Brement has spent 15 years teaching and coaching all facets of poker, including at Pima CC. Email him at brementmark@gmail.com.