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  1. Poker pros from all over the world are currently making their way to Las Vegas for an autumn of non-stop action in the 2021 World Series of Poker…and you’re making a PowerPoint presentation. Or a sandwich or something. That’s because you have responsibilities to a family or a job and setting aside eight weeks out of your life to chase the poker dream is not only not practical, it’s completely off the table. For many serious recreational players that sounds like the dream: grinding day-in and day-out, feeling the high and lows of an eight-week schedule at the Rio while battling with the world’s best in the game we love. But if you’re lucky, you get to pick a weekend where you can book your flight, post up in a hotel, and take a shot in the great bracelet chase. So if, as a weekend warrior, you only get one chance - you best choose wisely. This might help. Here's a breakdown of all the marquee events that highlight all eight weekends of the 2021 WSOP. The pros, the cons, and the little things to consider in each event so that you can maximize your gold bracelet shot. The REUNION $5,000,000 Guaranteed Buy-in: $500 (1 Re-Entry per flight) Duration: Up to 5 Days Starting Dates: Friday, October 1 thru Sunday, October 3 Start Time: 10 AM If you simply can’t wait to get back into the action at The World Series of Poker, the Reunion is the perfect event for you. Kicking off on the opening weekend of the series, it’s the low buy-in, high-guaranteed tournament that is certain to have one of the softest fields of the entire schedule. But while the $5 million guaranteed event sounds like the perfect tournament to test your mettle (and in many ways it is) there are a few items to consider before purchasing your ticket to this get-together. The same reason that makes it exciting - it's the first major NLHE tournament of the fall - is the same that might cause some headaches. In 2019, The BIG 50 was absolutely massive. But so were the lines. Registration, bathroom, poker kitchen…you name it you were waiting your turn. The Rio was smashed with people. This year, there’s the added process of vaccination verification and it will be the first time series officials will be dealing with that. So, there could be some unforeseen hiccups meaning some additional patience might be needed. Secondly, with 30-minute levels on the three opening flights (which is good for a local daily tournament, but fast for a bracelet event) simply means that play will be brisk. If you want that extended WSOP experience, this might not be it. To that end, each flight allows for a single re-entry so decisions need to be made - will you hop back in line? How many times? There are three flights so someone firing maximum bullets would need to allow for $3,000 in buy-ins. Despite all of that, The Reunion should be considered a top pick for any weekend warrior. The vibe will be electric with it being the first WSOP weekend in a year-and-a-half. And, even if you have to fire a couple of bullets, a shot at the bare minimum $5 million prize pool comes at a reasonable price. Plus, payouts start by the end of Day 1’s so you don't have to wait if you're going to get paid. Note that the final table plays out on Tuesday, October 5 so you might have to find an excuse for the boss on why you won’t be back at your desk until Thursday. MILLIONAIRE MAKER $1,000,000 guaranteed for 1st Buy-in: $1,500 (1 re-entry per flight) Duration: Up to 6 Days Starting Dates: Friday, October 8 & Saturday, October 9 Start Time: 10:00 AM In some ways, the $1,500 Millionaire Maker is like The Reunion turned inside out. Whereas The Reunion is small buy-in, fast levels (30 minutes), and 50,000 in chips. The Millionaire Maker triples the buy-in, doubles the level time (60 minutes), and gives you half the starting chips at 25,000. Both tournaments are going about accomplishing the same goal from a different angle - giving the winner a million bucks. So what’s the upside of The Millionaire Maker? Smaller fields. Don’t get it wrong, it’s still going to be big, but there will likely be 25% of the entries of The Reunion (bigger buy-ins have a way of doing that). But also, the structure on the Millionaire Maker is subtly slower up top. An extra level to start and another extra level at Level 5 helps make up for the shallower starting chip stack, allowing for some extra play. Those hour levels also give some weight to the event you might not feel in The Reunion. Finally, it should be noted that the event is slated for 5 Days, but that’s five including a starting flight, one of which is on Saturday, October 9. So the final table plays out on Wednesday, October 13…six days after the start of the opening flight. But if you make it to the end, as John Gorsuch did in 2019 - for which he won more than $1.3 million - you’re probably not terribly concerned with an extra 24 hours. PLAN B: This weekend offers the $1,000 Flip & Go NLHE Presented by GGPoker. Looking for a lightning-fast way to make the money? This event which takes place on Sunday, October 10 has everyone going all-in on the first hand and the winner of the first table is instantly in the money. The upside - the adrenaline! The downside - flipping for a thousand bucks! MONSTER STACK No guarantee Buy-in: $1,500 (freezeout) Duration: Up to 6 Days Starting Dates: Friday, October 15 & Saturday, October 16 Start Time: 10 AM Take the starting chips from The Reunion, the levels of the Millionaire Maker, make it a freezeout and you’ve got one of the best weekend tournaments on the schedule - the Monster Stack. It might be the closest event on the schedule to mimic the feel of playing in The Main Event (even more so than the tournament dubbed the Mini Main Event) as there’s tons of play throughout Day 1 and, because it plays so deep, it’s one bullet and you're done. No re-entry in any flight and, if you play and bust Day 1A, you cannot enter Day 1B. It’s good like that. The downside for those who are looking to absolutely max out every buy-in dollar with time on the felt is that in 2021, they eliminated two hours of play right off the bat from what was in the structure in 2019. Missing are the 100-100 (no ante) and 100-200 (no ante) levels. But the other side of that coin is when the tournament starts at 100-200 (100 ante) you’ll be involved in meaningful pots from jump street. In 2019, this event drew 6,035 over the two starting flights with the top 8 players walking with six-figure scores, and the winner, Kainalu McCue-Unciano from Hawaii, flew home with more than $1 million added to his bankroll. Again, with a tournament so deep, you may need to budget a little more than the weekend as the final table will play out on Wednesday, October 20. But to experience one of the best starting stacks to buy-in ratios - go big in the Monster Stack. PLAN B: Bust out of the Monster Stack but still want to get some deep-stacked play in? The WSOP knows you do and so on Sunday, October 17 the $800 8-Handed No Limit Hold’em takes place. Smaller buy-in, 40,000 chips, 30 minutes levels and it’ll award a bracelet before the Monster Stack final table begins. It’s a second chance for the time you budgeted anyway. DOUBLE STACK No guarantee Buy-in: $1,000 (single re-entry per flight) Duration: Up to 6 Days Starting Dates: Friday, October 22 & Saturday, October 23 Start Time: 10 AM The Double Stack is the younger sibling of the Monster Stack. Not quite as deep (40,000 starting stack) and with 2/3 of the price tag. That’s where its value lies. The structure and level duration are identical so if you want the feel of the Monster Stack just on the cheaper side this may be for you. Practically, players are getting more starting stack value. If the Double Stack was equitable with the Monster in terms of chips-to-entry fee ratio, it would start with 33,333 chips. But that’s silly, so it’s rounded to 40K and players can simply enjoy the extra chips to splash around with. That’s not the only difference. The Monster Stack is an old-school freezeout, but the Double Stack is back to the single re-entry per flight giving you multiple bullets in case you want to double-stack off. This one also runs six days (with a day off) if you play Day 1A on October 22 as the final table plays out on Wednesday, October 27. Sounds good? In 2019 it did to fan-favorite Joseph Cheong who bested a field of 6,214 to earn $687,782 and his first gold bracelet. PLAN B: There’s another $800 8-Handed No Limit Deepstack with a single re-entry taking place on Sunday, October 24. COLOSSUS No guarantee Buy-in: $400 (1 re-entry per flight) Duration: Up to 4 Days Starting Dates: Friday, October 29 & Saturday, October 30 Start Time: 10 AM Perhaps the ultimate pick for weekend warriors would be the Colossus. It’s has everything: it’s the cheapest bracelet event on the schedule, it crowns a winner in time to be back at work on a Tuesday, and payouts start the same day as the starting flights. It starts plenty deep with 40,000 chips and slightly longer levels than the Reunion (40 minutes). And like The Reunion, one should expect the Rio to be a madhouse during the Colossus with long lines of players looking to fire on both starting flights. There’s a single re-entry per flight and with such an affordable price tag, players may find themselves needing to hit the cage four times in order to build a stack and get a piece of what, in 2019, was a prize pool of over $4 million. All of that should sound great but there’s a big-time caveat this year. The Colossus plays through Halloween. For some, that’s no problem. But for anyone with kids (or non-poker playing friends) a tournament on Halloween might just be a non-starter. This is one of the tournaments to keep an eye on to see how the fall schedule affects an event. In 2019, the Colossus saw 13,109 runners. It will likely be less this year, but also, for some, it’s the perfect weekend to scare up a bracelet. PLAN B: Travel to Las Vegas to play the Colossus with a buddy? Both hit the rail? Team up and jump into the Tag Team event on October 31. There’s always a rail in the Tag Team event giving it. The MAIN EVENT No guarantee - but, it’s the Main Event so someone’s going to get rich. Buy-in: $10,000 Duration: Up to 13 days Starting Dates: Thursday, November 4 - Sunday, November 7 Start Time: 11 AM The Main Event may be the best live tournament of any given calendar year but truth be told, it simply doesn’t qualify for a weekend warrior trip. It’s too long, too expensive, and requires too much planning. For many, playing in the Main Event is the pinnacle of live tournament poker but for the sake of this report, the Main Event isn’t something that people with responsibilities just hop on a plane for in order to test their luck. That said, the Main Event comes with the highest recommendation. Anytime you can clear your calendar and either satellite in or afford it without it being a strain on a life roll, this is the one to take a shot in. No applicable Warrior Head rating. CRAZY EIGHTS $888,888 first-place guarantee Buy-in: $888 (1 re-entry per flight) Duration: Up to 6 Days Starting Dates: Thursday, November 11- Sunday, November 14 Start Time: 12 noon Crazy Eights has been a staple on the live (and online) WSOP since 2016 when online sponsor 888poker had it added to the schedule. It’s always brought a lot of weekenders out because of the happy medium it strikes on being a fast-paced tournament with a big-time payout at the end for a mid-stakes price point. It’s also, in a way, the last hurrah for a massive multi-flight battle at a very affordable price point. Four starting flights, re-entry for each, will make for a hefty prize pool - one that climbed to over $8 million in 2019. In fact, all of the players at the final table that year turned their $888 into six-figure scores, so a nice ROI is waiting for those who make it to the final day. The only real downside, for those looking for longer levels, is how fast those Day 1’s play with 30-minute levels. But that allows them to start paying people at the end of the night and, should you go deep, hit a score, and bust before bagging…well you “go crazy” can hop in the next starting flight and try it all over again. Plus this one kicks off on a Thursday and has starting flights through Sunday, so there’s more flexibility on when you decide to enter. The CLOSER No guarantee Buy-in: $1,500 (1 re-entry per flight) Duration: up to 3 Days Starting Dates: Friday, November 19 & Saturday, November 20 Start Time: 11 AM There’s nothing wrong with The Closer. It’s fast-paced with 25,000 starting stack and 30-minute levels and a great way to close the series. But this is not recommended for a weekend warrior because - what were you waiting for all fall? The Rio is closing up shop, turning off the lights, and the electricity of the 2021 WSOP has been replaced with last-chance grinders looking for a tournament score to serve as a series saver. If you can avoid it, don’t make The Closer your only 2021 WSOP experience there are so many others that bring you excitement, value, and massive paydays for the winners. If this is the only time you can make it - fine. But if you are plotting and planning your getaway to Sin City to chase a bracelet you best scroll back up this page and choose another event. You want memories of a packed house and the real thrill of playing in the WSOP, not one where you roll up on the party just as the music has stopped and the stragglers are pouring into the street. Here's the exception: If you have to get one final tournament in before the Rio ceases to play host to the WSOP, this may be the play. The Closer is a fine tournament but, generally, one you hope you don’t find yourself in as the only one you play. World Series of Poker action kicks off on September 30.
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