Walking into the Rio today was like arriving at rock concert, not knowing that there was a rock concert. A whopping mass of 3,151 people decided to come play in the last $1,500 No-Limit Hold'em Event of the 2007 World Series of Poker.
The carpeted hallways were littered with bodies, some lying limp of the floor exhausted from hours of lining up to register. Just walking to the media room was a task, tip-toeing around the melee of magazines, empty cups and impatient poker players.
With this many people in a tournament, things can get a little tricky. This isn't small potatoes - this is a really big thing. But life can be made a bit easier, if you follow:
Guide To Surviving Massive Poker Tournaments
Chapter One: Before you get in the tournament room
- Try to register for the event prior to 11:30 a.m., if the tournament starts at noon. This is just common sense.
- Make sure you wear a bright colored shirt or have a noticeable chip protector. This is the only way you will get any face time on the live update sites.
- Since the buy-in is low, you probably have a few buddies playing with you so make sure you have at least a couple side bets. That should keep it interesting when you bet out early - you'll still be getting a bit of action!
- If you've registered late, bring a pillow or sleeping bag because there are not that many benches in the Rio hallways. You will give yourself a pat on the back for bringing along a comfortable sitting accessory.
- Read up on your player knowledge, including all those young internet kids. You don't want to have the rug pulled under you when you push a hand against a seemingly unknown 21-year-old internet pro from Minnesota.
Once you actually get into the tournament room, the real fun starts. Hold on to that buy-in ticket and stock up on some peanut m&m's. It could be a long day.
Chapter Two: How to stay sane while playing in a 3,151 entrant tournament:
- Keep your eyes on your own table. Once you start looking around and realize there are like, 3,150 other people in your exact same shoes, you might get what we call poker vertigo - the throw-up feeling that comes from the realization that you are really, really far from winning any kind of money.
- Because there are so many eliminations that have to happen before you reach the money, you have two smart options: Get a lot of chips and play big chip honcho, or get some balls and start pushing. It's no fun being short-stacked, staying through dinner break, and coming back only to bust out.
- Use the 15 minute breaks. Seriously. We know the line-up for the bathrooms look ridiculously long, but spilling your chips and running down the long hallways while you get blinded off just isn't good tournament etiquette.
- Make some friends. With that many people in the room, you're bound to connect with at least one of them. But don't get attached because with all the eliminations coming, you'll have a new friend approximately every hour.
- Share your m&ms. Good karma.
As you play on into the night and your lower back begins to ache, maybe take one of the massage girls up on their offer. I know, at first it seems a bit pretentious and that only the real pros should be able to get a massage, but hey - we are all human beings and we all get back pain. Follow it up with a complimentary bottle of Rio water to rinse out the released toxins.
When it's bubble time, stay awake. Actually, the best thing to do here is not even play at all. You've made it this far and it would really suck if you made some donkey move and missed the money by just a few eliminations. Yeah. Better just fold everything.
Once you've made the money, you can relax a bit, stretch out, cheer if you want (don't be embarrassed, you know you're just acting cool and aching inside to do it), and play on. Again, if you're short-stacked, it might be a good time to move all-in since you're guaranteed some sort of pay. What sucks even more than busting out on the first hand after dinner break is trekking it back to the Rio after only six hours of rest for Day 2 and busting out on the first hand you play. Make sure you leave the Rio with your chip stack in a healthy condition.
Now, granted, this may not be the standard of tournament advice that many professionals and bracelet winners would adhere to. But if you follow these guidelines, I guarantee that you will have kind of a good time playing the tournament.
And when you bust out and exit into the hallways, eyes searching in desperate need for someone to share your story with, just remember that you are not the first one. Go have a beer.
It's not that nobody cares. It's just that you are probably the 173rd bad beat of the day, and enough is enough.