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The World Series of Poker’s debut of the popular GGPoker Flip and Go format took place this weekend and, love it or hate it, the tournament and its opening flights brought some old-school action back to the players in the Rio. For the uninitiated, Event #20 ($1,000 FLIP & GO) worked like this: eight players at a table are each dealt three hole cards. Next, the dealer puts out the flop. After seeing the flop, every player chooses one card to throw away, leaving themselves with the two cards they think will have the best chance of surviving to the end. Once discarded, most players turned their hands face up as the dealer delivered the turn and the river. The best hand of the eight wins and that player advances into the money. If there’s a chopped pot, those players run it back until there is a single winner. From there, the tournament is played like a traditional event. Some call the quick-paced prelims the ultimate rec-friendly tournament, removing all of the time-intensive early play hurdles while delivering the thrill of late-stage play and the promise of a payday within minutes. Others, however, call it “flipping for a bracelet." Whichever side of the fence you sit on, it’s hard to deny that the Flip & Go brought a buzz to the Pavilion. At first glance, many thought that players had just a couple of shots at winning their flips. The two flights of the tournament on the official starting day, Sunday, October 10. But in reality, the Flip and Go played more like a Phase Tournament - whenever eight players were interested in flipping, they could get together in the single table satellite area of the Pavilion and hold their own opening stage. In fact, these on-demand flights were offered very early on in the series - as early as October 1. However, the word didn’t really get around until GGPoker ambassador Daniel Negreanu rallied the troops and decided to spend some time taking shots in them. https://twitter.com/RealKidPoker/status/1446339035169886209?s=20 Like many other online Phase tournaments, where players are able to fire in as many opening flights as they’d like in order to bag chips for a Day 2, bankroll is a big consideration here. The consistent firing of on-demand tables had the look of the old school bracelet rebuys of years ago, back when Negreanu - with a virtually unlimited bankroll - would fire, take thin (or even -EV spots), and just to go broke so he could snap rebuy in order to get more chips on the table to win back later. It’s not apples-to-apples here. Once you advance you start equal to everyone else, but there is a bankroll threshold in this particular Flip and Go of just how many times will it take before you win that 8-handed all-in. And, for a recreational player, how many flips can you lose before they can no longer take any more shots. Once Negreanu sat down, the action heated up as captured by WSOP Social Media guru Kevin Mathers. https://twitter.com/Kevmath/status/1446606036027117569?s=20 It was clear that once people got going, they were having a good time. Enough to want to take more shots. The fast-paced action is packed with adrenaline, knowing that if you win this one flip you are already in the money. But trying to get to the money phase turned out to be costly for a number of high-profile pros who found themselves on the negative side of variance and ended up being too long to be wrong. https://twitter.com/Kevmath/status/1446620888816750597?s=20 https://twitter.com/KevinRobMartin/status/1446614893877084164?s=20 The criticism of bringing Flip & Go’s to the WSOP was not unexpected and, for traditionalists, understandable. For some, removing the skill edge and nuances of navigating the early stages of large-field tournaments and leaving it up to luck may feel like a betrayal of the game. However, to say that strategy is out the window in the first phase of a Flip & Go wouldn’t be accurate. https://twitter.com/shaundeeb/status/1447078276569055232?s=20 When all was said and done on Sunday, 155 players advanced. With a total of 1232 entries at $1,000 a pop, the prize pool swelled to just over $1.1 million. An impossible number without having run the on-demand single tables for days in advance. Estimates have it that in the two scheduled Sunday flights roughly 50 people advanced as compared to over 100 who advanced by grinding the single tables between Thursday through Sunday. https://twitter.com/dwpoker/status/1447343223844728832?s=20 The min-cash was $2,000, double your money. But for some, that’s barely going to make a dent in the damage it took to get there. For a player like David Williams, who, as noted above fired 19 times, nothing less than the final table in the Flip & Go was going to get him even. Unfortunately for him, while it goes down on record as a cash, a 117th place finish for $2,155, Williams will have to rely on his second-place finish in the $1,500 Seven Card Stud for $50,842 to get him out of the flippin’ hole. At the end of Day 1, just 23 players remained in the Flip & Go Event. The remaining runners will play down to a winner on Monday, October 11 with a first-place prize of more than $180,000. https://youtu.be/EVxoBPCGNP8
The 2021 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas is here and that means there’s simply no time to waste. So, without further ado, let’s get star--- DON’T GO OUT THE NIGHT BEFORE YOUR FIRST TOURNAMENT AND PLAY BEER PONG AT O’SHEA’S WHILE DRINKING SIX IRISH CAR BOMBS THEN THINK IT’S A GOOD IDEA TO STAY UP UNTIL 7 AM AND LOSE 10 BUY-INS ON A $1/$2 TABLE AT THE FLAMINGO. Go out, by all means. Just don’t do that. Have you ever been so hungover that you completely forget what it’s like to not be hungover? Over-partying is easily done in Las Vegas, but a throbbing head and overwhelming nausea is the last thing you want when you’re heading to the Rio to play your first ever WSOP event. Save that for your final night in town. DO GET EXCITED. You’re at the WSOP! You made it! Don’t let some moaning, jaded veteran at your table dampen your spirits. If you feel anxious beforehand, that’s completely normal. Playing for a bracelet is a big deal and you don’t know what will happen. But while anxiety suggests you should fear the uncertainty, excitement views the uncertainly as something to look forward to. So, get excited and enjoy the action. DON’T OVERLOAD ON CAFFEINE. Any anxiety you do feel pre-tournament will only be made worse if you chug four coffees before making your way to the Rio. Instead, find different ways to wake yourself up and save the healing power of coffee for later in the day, like bracelet winner and former #1-ranked online pro Ari Engel does. “I try and go to the gym most mornings and limit caffeine in the morning so it’s more effective in the evening when I’m playing tournaments,” says Engel. DO REGISTER THE NIGHT BEFORE. On the night before your first event, why not stop by the Rio before heading out for dinner? That way, not only will you know what to expect, you can also take care of something that first-timers often overlook: “Make sure you register the day before the tournament, especially if it's a big weekend event,” says WSOP czar Kevin “Kevmath” Mathers. “No one wants to be stuck in a long line when the tournament starts.” Registration is available 24/7. DON’T STRESS YOURSELF OUT. Keep your mornings stress-free by limiting your obligations to others and planning your food/travel the night before. That way you can just relax pre-poker. “I like to give myself time before I go play so that my brain is actually awake and functioning,” says three-time WSOP bracelet winner Benny “RunGodlike” Glaser. “I'll meditate a bit if I have time, so my mind isn’t cluttered with unnecessary things. I also try not to eat huge meals that will slow me down mentally or give me an insulin crash after.” To help matters further when playing, Mathers suggests downloading the Bravo Poker Live app on your phone. “It shows you when tournament breaks are coming, the status of the dinner break, and how close you are to reaching the money.” At the Rio the food options can be limited and expensive, so Kevmath also suggests packing snacks and drinks in your bag, along with other items you consider essential. DO WEAR LAYERS. “The Rio is notorious for keeping the tournament rooms cooler than you're used to,” says Kevmath. “Be sure to bring a hoodie or wear layers that you can add or remove as needed.” And if you have to wear something warm, why not have some fun with it? “When people see me in a stupid bear suit, it's not just because the Rio is an ice cube,” says two-time bracelet winner Brandon Shack-Harris. “I'm from Chicago, so what do I care? I do it because there's a point in the Series where I've bricked infinite tournaments and I'm too mentally fried to read enough Stoic Philosophies to get through tomorrow's $1,500 Limit Hold ‘Em Event.” DON’T RUSH. Break times in big WSOP tournaments can get hectic. Don’t feel obliged to rush. Remember, there are two outcomes when you’re sprinting back to the table trying not to miss a hand: 1. You’re going to be flustered and your heart racing, so chances you probably won’t play the hand to the best of your ability anyway. 2. You’re probably going to be dealt seven-deuce-offsuit. “I try not to race back to the table,” says Shack-Harris. “If I miss a hand, that's fine. Unless running is going to make me happy for some reason, I'm walking, and I'll get there when I get there.” DO AVOID BAD BEAT STORIES. Talk strategy with friends on breaks, sure, but if you catch yourself beginning to tell a bad beat story--or being forced to listen to one--get out of there. “Forget about beats,” says Shack-Harris. “While it's important to acknowledge hands you could've played better, do it once and let them go.” Instead, on breaks, Shack-Harris likes to get outside and find some peace. “I find it helpful to shut my brain off, so I don’t bother looking at my phone,” he says. “Find a quiet spot and think about adjustments you’ll make in the next level. “There have been times where I've grabbed my skateboard mid-tournament and taken it outside for 10 minutes to calm my brain down and get some air. Sometimes you've got to leave the table and reset!” DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP OVER BUSTING. OK, so you busted the tournament. That sucks. But you know what? You’re still in Las Vegas. “I care less about busting tournaments in Vegas than I do other places because there are so many things to do there,” says Glaser. “There are lots of good bars and clubs, shows, and restaurants to choose from. Or you can even get away from the strip and see some nature, maybe go on a hike somewhere like Red Rock. It can be really nice for resetting and calming the mind.” Just do what your body and mind want to do. “It's such an intense grind and it's so cognitively taxing that it's important to give yourself a rest sometimes,” says Glaser. DO BE KIND TO YOURSELF. Playing at the WSOP is special, whether you’re ticking it off the bucket list or back for the tenth time. But it can be a long grind, so whatever happens, be gentle with yourself. “Throughout the Series, there are ebbs and flows and I’ll make adjustments to stay sane,” says Shack-Harris. “It's important to be kind to yourself and allow yourself to eat shit food if it's going to be convenient or if it will bring your spirits up. Just be aware that you might have to bail in the middle of Level 9 to handle some...extra business.”