Preparing for the World Series of Poker

May 22, 2012  

The past few years, right before the World Series of Poker rolls around, I usually offer a WSOP coaching package to the members of my email list. Every year, quite a few people sign up and I tell them basically everything I know about the WSOP to help them have a profitable and enjoyable time at the tables. In this article, I will give you a few tips to help make the trip a success.

As for technical poker advice, the No. 1 thing I see amateurs do at the WSOP is turn their top pair hands face up, usually by raising with them on the flop then piling the rest of their money in on the turn. When deepstacked, if you raise the flop with top pair and your opponent continues in the hand, he can beat top pair or has a draw to beat top pair. This is obviously not a good situation for top pair.

I recently played a hand in a World Poker Tour event where someone raised from early position, someone called, I called in middle position with K-Q, and a tight, straightforward player called on the button. The flop came {k-Spades}{8-Diamonds}{2-Hearts}.

They checked to me and I threw out 3,500 into a 5,500 pot. The button immediately made it 8,000, leaving himself 20,000 behind. At this point, I knew the player would reraise with A-K and K-K preflop, so the only hands I had to worry about where 8-8 and 2-2. I also knew he liked to slow-play with sets, which helped me further narrow his range to squarely K-Q, K-J, K-10, or a flush draw. I elected to call because I didn’t want to let him off the hook if he had top pair, as most players that raise the flop in this spot will fold to a re-reraise on the flop.

The turn was the {4-Spades}. I checked and my opponent quickly went all-in. I obviously called, as I crush his range. I scooped a nice pile of chips when he turned up his K-J. Notice if my opponent simply called the flop instead of making a raise, he may have been able to conserve some chips. Instead, because he was so terrified of getting outdrawn, he ended up getting his money in drawing almost dead.

As for things to do away from the table to improve your time at the WSOP, I suggest you think ahead. For example, if you know you have to play a tournament at noon on Friday, don’t party all night Thursday. Since you probably know you’ll be spending a lot of time at the poker table, make it a point to eat right, be in good shape and get a lot of sleep. You should also think ahead about your hotel. If you know you don’t like traveling in the morning, your options are pretty much limited to the Rio or Palms.

If you know you want to stay at a place with nice rooms and restaurants, stay at Aria, Bellagio, Venetian or Wynn. If you know you want your entire focus to be on poker while at the WSOP, don’t gamble on other games, such as blackjack or sports. Basically, figure out what you want from the WSOP and plan ahead to give yourself the best chance for success.
My main goal for the WSOP is to put in 13 hours of solid poker every day of the series. I plan on playing a tournament at noon and if I bust before 10 p.m. or so, I will play cash games or satellites until 1 a.m. or so. To make this happen, I’m going to eat healthily every day and I’m going to make a point to get in the gym at least four days per week, though it probably will end up being more like six days per week.

I’m also going to drink no alcohol throughout the series. I also don’t plan on partying or really hanging out with people too much in general during the WSOP. This may sound like a miserable way to spend the WSOP to most people, but for me, my goal is to make as much money as possible, and this seems to be the ideal way to do it. I know if I set my mind to something, I can make it happen. I also know I’m going on a vacation before and after the series, so if I start feeling burnt out, I know I have a vacation right around the corner. All in all, I am excited for a two-month-long grindfest. If you see me grinding away, say hi.

— Jonathan Little is the Season 6 WPT Player of the Year and is a representative for Blue Shark Optics. If you want to learn to play a loose-aggressive style, which will constantly propel you to the top of the leaderboards, check out his poker training website at FloatTheTurn.com.