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There’s nothing quite like the first time. For serious poker enthusiasts, there may be nothing more exciting than making your first trip to Las Vegas to participate in, or simply geek out to, the World Series of Poker. For those lucky people making their first trip to the series in 2018, we have some suggestions on how to fully embrace the WSOP experience. You won’t find any Cirque Du Soleil show recommendations or directions to the best sushi restaurants here, this is simply a guide to diving head first into a complete WSOP summer poker experience in Sin City. Hit The Hall The first time you head to the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, tell your taxi or Uber driver to take you to the front entrance. Sure, they can drop you off at the “poker entrance” but you should experience the walk down the long hallway that leads to Rio convention area at least once. The closer you get to the action the more you’ll be inundated with banners of former WSOP Players of the Year and Main Event Champions. Doyle, Stu, Chris…Moneymaker. And, yes, Ferguson. They’re (almost) all there. Of the three major tournament areas, the Pavillion is the one you’ll see first. Go inside and take a deep breath in. Yes, some of the smells may be from players who have been up for days, unable or unwilling to shower, but everything in the Pavillion is pure poker. The cricket-like sound of shuffling chips, the floor at the big board announcing a new table of $10-20 Big O and single table satellites filling up and getting underway. The Pavillion houses cash games, satellites, the Daily Deepstack tournaments and occasionally overflow from WSOP bracelet events. For daily grinders, the Pavillion is where a ton of the action happens. Walk the hallway with the vendors, but be wary first-timers: try not to let someone attach a magnetic aura bracelet to your wrist or entice you with a whiff of orange colored oxygen. However, if you see Bart Hanson, Jonathan Little or even PocketFives' own Lance Bradley spending time in a booth, walk on over and see what's up. Interested in some “poker sunglasses”? They’ve got those too. It’s a mini poker market and just maybe you’ll find something you like. Finally, on your first pass check out both the Brazilia and the famed Amazon Room. In 2017 they had moved the televised "mothership" to the Brazilia so make sure you do a slow pass and get a behind the scenes look at what you watch on ESPN or PokerGO. Then hit the Amazon to see the room where so much WSOP history was made. Star Gazing When it comes to seeing stars, a trip to the WSOP is unlike a trip to Hollywood because poker celebrities are just about everywhere you look on any given day. The personalities you watch on TV like Negreanu, Greenstein, and Raymer are often times at the tables grinding it out to try to win another bracelet. There walkways in each of the tournament rooms where one can quite often spot a noted pro from the rail. Often times if you see one of your favorites in the hallway, they’d be happy to hear what a fan you are and pose for a shot for your Insta. Of course, use discretion. Quite often these guys are playing for many thousands of dollars, so use that keen poker instinct to pick an appropriate time to introduce yourself. Get Your Feet Wet, Splash Around If you came to the World Series to play, then it’s time to play. At the WSOP just about every poker experience is at your fingertips. Small stakes to nosebleed cash games are running 24/7. Want to win your way into a bracelet event? There’s an entire section dedicated to single table satellites that start as low as around $125 that can help you win entries to buy-in to bigger events. Tournament aficionados may choose to jump into one of the popular Daily Deepstacks. There’s four that fire daily - 1 p.m., 4 p.m., 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. They are all one-day events and have a buy-in ranging from $200 - $365. They are noted for having massive fields and pretty big paydays for those that can make it to the end. Take That (Gold Bracelet) Shot It should go without saying that when shot taking, never play with any money you can’t afford to lose. There’s little in the poker world that feels quite like taking a seat in a WSOP bracelet event for the first time. The WSOP gold bracelet has been one of the most enduring accolades in the game and anyone with the gumption and the buy-in can take a shot, make a run and potentially become a hometown hero, returning with a new piece of jewelry. Want to outsmart the masses when it comes to registering? It’s way too easy. Hit the cage when there’s no one around. Registration for every event is open around the clock, so take an unscheduled trip to the convention area at the end of the day or late into the night and register for any event days in advance. The lines can get extremely long for events like the Millionaire Maker and Monster Stack on the day of. Also available, online registering with a credit card via the WSOP’s partnership with Bravo. See Other People So you’ve seen the sights, watched the stars and taken a seat in a WSOP event. It’s been great, but you are sick of the Hash House and All American Bar & Grille. Perhaps, the Rio is wearing on you. Well, for many the entirety of their WSOP experience is actually far more than the series itself. Many major Las Vegas properties throw their own expansive summer poker series and there’s a ton of fun to be had there as well. The Aria poker room is one of the most acclaimed in the city and their Aria Poker Classic features two events daily (one at 11:00 a.m. one at 7:00 p.m.). If you bust in the tournaments at the Aria, you can hop in a cash game, get a pretty great grass-fed burger or slice of Forester pizza at Five50 Pizza Bar. The Wynn has a summer series of their own. Their poker room is one of luxury and their tournament area gives one the feeling like they are playing in an island resort. It doesn’t stop there: the Venetian, Golden Nugget, Binion’s and Planet Hollywood all have an extensive schedule of tournaments and cash game offering to go along with them. So when planning a schedule mix it up and see what’s out there. Whether you plan on heading to Las Vegas for two days or two weeks (or longer) there’s plenty to do for the complete poker fan.
Poker players have always loved the summer in Las Vegas, but it wasn’t until more recent years that their love has extended beyond the walls of the World Series of Poker as more and more events pop up around Sin City. Also gaining in affection recently are mixed games and there are more mixed game tournaments taking place in Las Vegas during the summer than ever before. If you fancy mixed games, you no longer need to look at the WSOP schedule and staying cooped up inside the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino. There are dozens of these events around town. Here are some of the best, non-WSOP mixed game tournaments to play in Las Vegas this summer. Orleans H.O.R.S.E. Championship Where: The Orleans Hotel & Casino When: Sunday, June 2, at 11 a.m. Buy-In: $400 Guarantee: $50,000 Starting Chips: 20,000 Click for Structure If you like low buy-in mixed games, the Orleans is a place you’ll want to frequent this summer. Every year, the Orleans does a solid job of putting together an accessible schedule of events for players of all games. On the 2019 Orleans Summer Poker Series schedule is a $400 H.O.R.S.E. Championship event with a $50,000 guaranteed prize pool. Players start with 20,000 in chips and levels are 30 minutes long. Once the event hits the money, the level times increase to 45 minutes. Late entries and re-entries are available until the start of Level 9, and the event is slated as a one-day tournament. Of the $400 buy-in, $335 goes to the prize pool and $65 is withheld for “admin, staffing, and promo fees.” That’s a 16.25% rake. Orleans 8-Game Mix Championship Where: The Orleans Hotel & Casino When: Saturday, June 8, at 11 a.m. Buy-In: $400 Guarantee: $50,000 Starting Chips: 20,000 Click for Structure If you're looking for a little more excitement than the limit games of H.O.R.S.E. provide but still want a smorgasbord of variants within one tournament, then the $400 8-Game Mix Championship on the 2019 Orleans Summer Poker Series schedule will be right up your alley. In similar fashion to the H.O.R.S.E. event on the weekend prior, the 8-Game Mix Championship starts players with 20,000 in chips and levels will be 30 minutes before the money and 45 minutes in the money. Six hands of each game will be played, with the standard H.O.R.S.E. rotation in the mix, plus 2-7 triple draw, no-limit hold’em, and pot-limit Omaha. Late entries and re-entries are available until the start of Level 9, and the event is listed as a one-day tournament. Of the $400 buy-in, $335 goes to the prize pool and $65 is withheld for "admin, staffing, and promo fees." That’s a 16.25% rake. Orleans Stud Mix Championship Where: The Orleans Hotel & Casino When: Saturday, June 9, at 11 a.m. Buy-In: $400 Guarantee: $50,000 Starting Chips: 20,000 Click for Structure Stud players unite! The 2019 Orleans Summer Poker Series schedule includes a $400 buy-in Stud Mix Championship, featuring seven-card stud, seven-card stud 8-or-better, and razz. Players will start with 20,000 in chips, eight hands of each game will be played, and levels will be 30 minutes before the money and 45 minutes in the money. Late entries and re-entries are available until the start of Level 9, and the event is scheduled as a one-day tournament. Of the $400 buy-in, $335 goes to the prize pool and $65 is withheld for "admin, staffing, and promo fees." That’s a 16.25% rake. ARIA H.O.R.S.E. Where: ARIA Resort & Casino When: Sunday, June 16, at 1 p.m. Buy-In: $1,100 Guarantee: $50,000 Starting Chips: 25,000 Click for Structure ARIA Resort & Casino has stepped up its game this summer by slapping some juicy guarantees on events during the 2019 ARIA Poker Classic. One of those events receiving a welcomed guaranteed is the $1,100 H.O.R.S.E. tournament that starts on Sunday, June 16, and is scheduled as a two-day event. Last year, the 2018 ARIA Poker Classic featured a $70 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. event with no guarantee. It attracted 115 entries for a $46,000 prize pool. Doubling the buy-in and adding a guarantee should benefit this event a fair bit. Players start with 25,000 in chips and levels are 40 minutes long, with entry and re-entry available until the end of Level 9. The tournament will be played eight handed. On the $1,100 buy-in, $1,000 will go into the prize pool and $100 will be withheld for entry and staff fees, making for a 9.1% rake. There is a $150 satellite for this event on Saturday, June 15, at 7 p.m. Golden Nugget Mixed Omaha Championship Where: Golden Nugget When: Wednesday, June 26, at 11 a.m. Buy-In: $570 Guarantee: $25,000 Starting Chips: 20,000 Click for Structure The Grand Poker Series at the Golden Nugget seems to pick up more and more steam each summer. This time around, there’s plenty on offer, including the $570 buy-in Mixed Omaha Championship event that features pot-limit Omaha 8-or-better, Omaha 8-or-better, and big-O. Players start with 20,000 in chips. Levels are 30 minutes in length, with a bump to 40 minutes at the final table. Entry and re-entry are available until the start of Level 9. With a buy-in of $570, $500 will go into the prize pool and $70 will be reserved for registration fee and staff. That’s a 12.28% rake. Binion’s H.O.R.S.E. Championship Where: Binion’s Gambling Hall & Hotel When: Friday, June 28, at 11 a.m. Buy-In: $1,100 Guarantee: None Starting Chips: 60,000 At time of writing, details were scare on the 2019 Binion's Summer Series $1,100 H.O.R.S.E. Championship compared to other series, but here’s what we do know. We know the event is listed to start Friday, June 28, with the first of two starting flights. The second will take place on Saturday, June 29, and both start at 11 a.m. Players start with 60,000 in chips and levels will start at 40 minutes long before they are increased to 60 minutes in length. Last year’s H.O.R.S.E. Championship event at Binion’s had a $585 buy-in and attracted 169 entries. The prize pool generated was $84,500, with James Woods taking home first-place honors and $14,570 in prize money after a four-way chop up top. Once more information becomes available on this event, we will update this section. Golden Nugget H.O.R.S.E. Where: Golden Nugget When: Sunday, June 30, at 11 a.m. Buy-In: $360 Guarantee: $20,000 Starting Chips: 15,000 Click for Structure The Grand Poker Series at the Golden Nugget hosts a $360 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. event on Sunday, June 30, at 11 a.m. The event has a $20,000 prize pool guarantee. Players start with 15,000 in tournament chips, with registration and re-entry open until the start of Level 9. Levels will be 30 minutes long leading up to the final table, when they are then increased to 40 minutes in length. Of the $360 buy-in, $300 will go to the prize pool and $60 will be withheld for registration fee and staff. That’s a 16.67% rake. Golden Nugget O.E. Championship Where: Golden Nugget When: Wednesday, July 3, at 11 a.m. Buy-In: $570 Guarantee: $25,000 Starting Chips: 20,000 Click for Structure The Grand Poker Series at the Golden Nugget hosts its O.E. Championship on Wednesday, July 3, starting at 11 a.m. The $570 buy-in event features a $25,000 prize pool guarantee. Players start with 20,000 in tournament chips, with registration and re-entry open until the start of Level 9. Levels will be 30 minutes long leading up to the final table. At the final table, levels are 40 minutes in length. Of the $570 buy-in, $500 will go to the prize pool and $70 will be withheld for registration fee and staff. That’s a 12.28% rake. ARIA Triple Draw Mix Where: ARIA Resort & Casino When: Wednesday, July 3, at 7 p.m. Buy-In: $240 Guarantee: None Starting Chips: 15,000 Click for Structure We understand this event doesn’t have a guarantee on it, but what mixed game player doesn’t love a good mix of triple draw games? The ARIA Resort & Casino hosts a $240 buy-in Triple Draw Mix tournament on the night of Wednesday, July 3. Players start with 15,000 in chips, with registration and re-entry open through the end of Level 6. On the $240 buy-in, $195 will go into the prize pool and $45 will be withheld for entry and staff fees, making for a 18.75% rake.
Short deck hold'em continues to grow in popularity, both in cash game and tournament format. This summer, the World Series of Poker added a $10,000 buy-in short deck hold'em event to its schedule of gold bracelet events, plus a handful of other venues around town are including the game in their summer offerings. Here are where and when you can play short deck hold’em in Las Vegas this summer. Short Deck Hold'em Events in Vegas This Summer Date Time (PT) Venue Buy-In Guarantee 6/1 2 p.m. Planet Hollywood $200 None 6/1 6 p.m. The Orleans $200 $20,000 6/2 6 p.m. World Series of Poker $10,000 None 6/5 7 p.m. ARIA $240 None 6/14 11 a.m. Golden Nugget $250 $5,000 6/20 10 a.m. Golden Nugget $360 $5,000 In addition to the tournaments listed in the table above, players may be able to find short deck hold'em cash games around Las Vegas this summer. One venue that is open to spreading it is ARIA Resort & Casino, who said they would be open to dealing the game at any limit they have in place for regular no-limit hold'em. What Is Short Deck Hold’em and How Do You Play? Also known as "six-plus hold’em," short deck hold'em is the new game in town that's quickly risen in the ranks of popularity. Players such as Phil Ivey, Tom Dwan, and Jason Koon are playing the game for astronomical stakes throughout Asia, and it's coming to the WSOP for the first time ever in 2019. Compared to regular no-limit hold'em, short deck hold'em is still extremely young and, therefore, not as widely known. Its rise in popularity has it almost on par with pot-limit Omaha. So, how does one play short deck hold'em? Short deck hold'em plays just like regular no-limit hold'em. Everyone is dealt two cards and there is a flop, turn, and river, with betting action taking place preflop and after each street of community cards. Also just like hold'em, players use their two hole cards combined with the five community cards on the board to make the best five-card poker hand. The deck being played with is different, though, and this is the first major difference between short deck hold'em and regular hold'em. Instead of the normal 52 cards that make up your regular poker deck, a deck used for short deck hold'em is only made up of 36 cards. Removed from the deck to cut it from 52 to 36 are the twos, threes, fours, and fives, hence the alternate name "six-plus hold’em." An ace remains a two-way card that can be used as both a high card and a low card. The second major difference is how the hands are ranked. It's become commonplace that flushes rank ahead of full houses in short deck hold'em. Some rules allow for three of a kind to beat straights, as well, but this is not the case for the $10,000 Short Deck tournament at the 2019 WSOP. Due to the shorter deck that's used in short deck hold'em, the odds for making certain hands change. It's easier to make a full house than it is a flush, which is why flushes rank higher than full houses in short deck hold'em. Below is a table of the most commonly used hand ranking system for short deck hold’em. Short Deck Hold'em Hand Rankings Royal Flush Straight Flush Four of a Kind Flush Full House Straight Three of a Kind Two Pair One Pair High Card Preflop, both blind and ante structures have been used for short deck hold'em.When blinds are used, the two players to the left of the button post the small blind and big blind, just as they would in regular hold'em, but some short deck hold'em games are played ante-only with no blinds.