Dara O’Kearney: An Ultimate Guide to Attending the WSOP

Another yr, one other WSOP

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) has formally began, and I and plenty of others might be making the pilgrimage to chase the false god of a bracelet within the desert.

you’ll be able to’t take bucket listing gadgets as a right

The pandemic has reminded folks that you may’t take bucket listing gadgets as a right and so numerous this yr’s attendees are taking the journey for the primary time. I do know as a result of many have contacted me with particular questions or searching for suggestions.

With these folks in thoughts, I’ve written this text summing up my prime suggestions for attending the distinguished poker occasion, from the most effective locations to remain to psychological preparation.


This is a class wherein there are many completely different approaches, all with completely different positives and negatives. Basically, it’s sort of private which one works finest for you. House, condominium, or resort? Strip, adjoining to WSOP, or out within the burbs? Alone or sharing? I’ve just about tried all of them so listed below are my ideas…

I personally loved the home expertise greater than the resort one, you are feeling extra like a traditional individual. However, the flip facet is a home normally means commuting, and any saving in price shortly disappears in Uber or cab fares. Being capable of cook dinner for your self is each cheaper and extra pleasurable than consuming each meal in a restaurant (or God assist us, a buffet). The commute generally is a ache, or a welcome slice of downtime relying on the way you take a look at it.

One yr I mixed the most effective of each worlds sharing a condominium throughout the highway from the Rio with Mrs. Doke and another Irish lads. Overall my considering is that resort is ok and extra handy for something as much as two weeks (three weeks tops) however if you’re there for longer you’re higher in a home or a condominium. When the Rio was the venue, the Gold Coast proper beside it was the most effective and least expensive possibility with excellent (and fairly priced by Vegas requirements) restaurant choices, however that is the primary yr in Bally’s so the Gold Coast doesn’t make a whole lot of sense as an possibility anymore.

Where you need to keep is basically a matter of non-public style. Preferably I want being close to to keep away from commuting (which is why I’m staying in Bally’s this yr), however some folks discover it oppressive being in the identical spot on a regular basis.

many shut friendships disappear quicker than a puddle within the Vegas warmth

Sharing with somebody is more cost effective and lonely, however it’s good to ensure it’s somebody you gained’t need to kill when you’re spending 24/7 of their firm. Vegas and the WSOP are high-stress experiences that finish in disappointment more often than not, a recipe for catastrophe when you’re sharing with somebody who will get in your nerves. I’ve seen many shut friendships disappear quicker than a puddle within the Vegas warmth.

Visas, cash, and taxis

If, like me, you’re making the journey from Ireland then there isn’t a visa requirement. The identical goes for many European nations however you do want an ESTA which you can apply for online. It lasts for 2 years and can set you again round $50.

If you’re bringing in lower than $10,000 you don’t need to declare it. I typically deliver just below the restrict in money to keep away from problem on the airport, however this doesn’t at all times work out. Sometimes they get suspicious when you’re just under the restrict and demand on counting it to make certain. I virtually missed my final flight due to this.

I used my card for many tourney buyins final time. There’s a charge (4% I believe) however it additionally saves problem and queueing time. The queues for the smaller buyin occasions will be insane. I as soon as spent three hours within the queue to register, then one other 4 hours within the queue to get my late registration seat project. I then bust the event inside 20 minutes.

In regards to move, don’t get in a taxi until pressured to at gunpoint. Before Uber, just about probably the most disagreeable a part of all my Vegas journeys was having to take care of Vegas cab drivers. Not solely is Uber an order of magnitude cheaper, however the drivers are additionally manner friendlier and extra attention-grabbing (to the purpose I’ve written a number of blogs on my Uber journeys). The common Uber journey is available in at round ten bucks, about thrice lower than comparable taxi rides.

Tax issues

At considered one of my tables final yr, listening to I used to be from Ireland, one of many American gamers mentioned:

“So when you win this you’ll need to pay all of it in tax, proper?”
“Um no.”
“But most of it?”
“How a lot?”
“That can’t be proper. You have taxes, proper?”
“Yes however not on poker winnings.”

Looking doubtful my interrogator requested:

“So who am I considering of?”

At which level one of many others on the desk, who it turned out was an precise taxation marketing consultant, mentioned:

America, buddy. We are those that pay.”

There then adopted a prolonged dialogue of federal, state and metropolis taxes which made it abundantly clear that Americans pay a whole lot of tax on their poker winnings. So, after all, do many European nations, however not the UK or Ireland, one thing the WSOP is aware of however most of the different casinos in Vegas don’t. This is deducted at supply on all cashes over the edge (5k greater than buyin final time I checked, which apparently is why the WSOP foremost min money is precisely 15k). To keep away from it, you want an ITIN quantity. Incidentally, if you’re a non-American and purchase a bit of an American, your piece of any money is exempt from US taxes (however they do require you to signal a kind confirming your piece).

The great folks on the WSOP will deal with this all robotically for you when you’re fortunate sufficient to have your first money within the US with them. They’ll want your passport and proof of residence (so deliver a financial institution assertion or utility invoice), however they’ll do all the mandatory paperwork to get you an ITIN. More importantly, they gained’t withhold 40% of your money as tax, and as an added bonus they’ll preserve it on file so that you don’t have to undergo the identical process each time.

Other casinos and collection should not as useful. Some of them gained’t even know you’re exempt from tax. Even if they’re, they’ll withhold tax anyway until you present them with an ITIN. Just a few years in the past, one Irish participant who cashed massive within the Venetian cornered me within the Rio saying they’d withheld 40% as he had no ITIN. He was flying out in a number of hours so couldn’t get one in time, however we have been reliably knowledgeable he might declare the cash again from Ireland. I’m unsure how cumbersome this course of is, however it’s one you’ll need to keep away from if in any respect potential.

The one upside to all that is that American taxation regulation has inadvertently led to many a positive chop for these of us from less-taxed nations. On considered one of my first journeys to Vegas, I heard about an Irish participant who regardless of being the shortie by a good distance secured the lion’s share in a five-way chop with 4 Americans all motivated to maintain their payout under 10k. So if you end up in such a scenario, it’s value educating the American gamers you’d like to cut with on taxation issues. Similarly, when you’re one of many Americans studying this, bear in mind that chops wherein the Euro nominally takes first prize (and presumably disburses a few of it to his extra taxed American buddies within the parking zone, one thing which I’d clearly by no means condone however know for certain occurs) can have very useful results in your backside line.

Mental preparation

I’ve usually mentioned that if you wish to see the largest change in a bunch of individuals in a brief time frame, go to the WSOP within the first week, then come again for the final week. At the beginning, everyone seems to be buzzing and bouncing round, blissful to see all their poker associates from everywhere in the world, and satisfied that that is their yr. By the tip, most are so caught that solely a really deep run within the Main can get them out, as they shuffle like zombies by means of the corridors, desperately ready for his or her flight dwelling.

The drawback with positivity is it doesn’t put together you for setbacks

A WSOP/Vegas marketing campaign is actually the equal of a Sunday on-line, stretched out over six weeks. Online gamers get up each Sunday feeling nice and able to go, hoping that is the Sunday they bink a serious. Usually, they finish the day desirous to cry into their keyboard, having bust their final shot at 4am. In Vegas, you’ll be able to very simply bust six tournaments in a day with out making dinner break. Obviously that’s not the aspiration, however it’s important to be ready for it, as a result of dropping journeys are much more widespread than successful ones when you’re a event participant. It might sound defeatist to anticipate failure, however it’s a much more helpful method than simply assuming every part might be nice. The drawback with positivity is it doesn’t put together you for setbacks after they come, as they virtually inevitably will.

The Stockdale Paradox states that pessimists reply to adversity higher than optimists. So be pessimistic, and if it seems nice, be pleasantly stunned.



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