Ten things you should do in poker before you die. Go on, you only live once…
While we all know poker is just one long game, let’s face it, the grind can get a bit dull at times. What you need is something to work towards. Some goals. Something a bit more exciting than six-tabling $0.10/$0.20 till your eyes bleed. How about playing poker on a Caribbean island while being massaged by a local beauty? Now we’re talking. To help you with a few ideas, we at PokerPlayer have used our experiences and knowledge of the poker world to pick out the ten things every poker player (pro or amateur) should do before they die. Get stuck in and leave the grind behind.
1. Play poker in a proper deep-stacked live tournament
Why? So you can feel like a pro at a fraction of the cost
Difficulty rating: 1/10
Deep-stacked poker tournaments used to be out of the reach of anyone without a sponsorship deal or a rich uncle. Until recently, if you paid less than £1,000
to enter a tournament you could expect bored, surly dealers and a chipstack where
everyone had 10 big blinds within two hours. But the success of the UKIPT
and DTD’s £300 events has meant that sub-£500 deepstacks are now available all
year round, and you’d be mad not to give one a try. Live tournament poker is the
ultimate adrenaline buzz, and the only place you get to indulge your famous
ability to read tells. For £700 at a UKIPT you get a shot at a £35,000 first prize and a stack so deep you can slip in and out of consciousness a couple of times without your stack entering danger territory. If you fancy a taste of the EPT for a fraction of the price, get to a UKIPT as soon as you get the chance. Bucket list item one ticked.
HOW? You could win one of the many UKIPT packages on PokerStars, but you’re
better off building up a bankroll through low-stakes cash and treating yourself.
2.Make the cash in the WSOP Main Event
Why? It’s the WSOP. This IS poker
Difficulty raiting: 9/10
The WSOP Main Event remains the ultimate poker tournament, and winning it is on the bucket list of every single pro alive. We’ve got slightly more modest (and achievable) ambitions, though be under no illusion that cashing in the world’s biggest donkament is any sort of walk in the park. First off you need to win your seat. You could cheat and buy yourself in directly, but you’re more likely going to need to bink one of the many online satellites that run in the months leading up to the Main Event. That’s the easy bit. The tough part is dodging the slings and arrows of outrageously fortunate idiots who fill the tables at the Rio. Making day two is pretty easy. Making day three is possible with a bit of discipline and good cards, but you’re going to need a bit of luck to make the vinegar strokes. And you should expect a torturous bubble period where dozens of players try to cling on with 4BB stacks. If you make it to the cash, consider yourself one of the true poker elite. Or a right jammy sod.
HOW? All you need is patience. From April until July every year there are numberless WSOP satellites running, and you could plug away at the $5 and $10 satellites for weeks without losing too much cash. Cashing in the Main Event itself is a bit trickier…
3. Play poker on a Caribbean island
Why? So you can feel like James Bond
Difficulty rating: 7/10
While there are some glamorous venues that play host to poker tournaments around the world, the truth is the inside of one casino looks much the same as another. And unless you’re fond of spending your time solely in the company of other poker players and the occasional prostitute, they are not the best places for a varied social life. Now, a poker tournament on an exotic island is a different story. You can still, if you wish, hang out with poker geeks discussing four-betting ranges, or you can find the nearest beach bar stacked full of drunken college girls. Take it from us, the pain of getting knocked out of a tournament is significantly soothed by
wandering from the poker room to a white sand beach and ordering a cold
beer. For the ultimate in Casino Royale decadence, you could even head
somewhere like St Kitts and hit the cash games. There you will find a mix
of tourists and locals indulging in a competition to see who can play worst.
How? The ‘easiest’ way to do this is to qualify for the PokerStars Caribbean
Adventure, although this is something of a sausage fest tucked away on a selfcontained resort. For the real experience keep your eyes peeled for the more
esoteric events, or simply head to St Kitts where the cash games run every day.
4. Play in an EPT main event
Why? To take part in the biggest live tournaments in poker against the toughest
Difficulty rating: 7/10
If you want the biggest prizepools and toughest fields in poker you need look
no further than the EPT. This is the home of the world’s best tournament pros, alongside a healthy smattering of rich fish who fancy mixing it with the big boys. It’s the ultimate test in poker and winning just one EPT main event will likely make you a dollar millionaire overnight. With buy-ins at €5,000 and up, simply winning a seat is challenge enough, despite the endless satellites on PokerStars. Picking the right event is crucial too. San Remo, Barcelona or London are arguably the big three to aim for. Barcelona for its hedonistic nightlife and amazing location, London for the hometown glory and San Remo for the epic fields and the equally epic number of Italian fish. Make the money in any of these and consider yourself a proper poker player.
HOW? Hit the online satellites at PokerStars, or simply ship yourself to the host casino and buy into the live satellites. If it’s good enough for Liv Boeree…
5. Final-table a Sunday Major
Why? The ultimate achievement in online poker and a monster payday.
Difficulty rating: 10/10
Since the PokerStars Sunday Million revolutionised online poker back in 2006, Sundays stopped being a day of rest and became a day of grind for poker fans.
With five figures up for grabs for a $215 buy-in on several different networks, it’s the one day of the week when sitting in your pants chugging energy drinks is considered socially acceptable(ish). But with epic field sizes, and the entirety of the online poker elite taking part each week, making the final table is no easy task. It’s the ultimate online poker achievement, so to help you along we’ve compiled a few invaluable MTT tips from the online poker world (see below).
HOW? Satellites to the Sunday Majors? $2. Six-pack of red bull? £4. Learning how to crush online poker tournaments? Priceless.
6. Play live cash in Vegas
Why? Pay homage at the spiritual home of poker. And rinse some donks
of their cash.
Difficulty rating: 1/10
The pros have long known it’s tournaments for show, cash games for dough. And if you want to consider yourself a real poker player you need to have sat down and duked it out in the city where it all began. Back in the 1950s when Doyle and
his mates rolled into town with talk of a new game called Texas hold’em, it caused
a sensation in Vegas. And it’s still the ultimate buzz in poker to sit down at
the Vegas tables, with the chiming of the slot machines in the background
and $200 in chips in front of you, to play poker against some of the worst players
in humanity. Because yes my friends, so long as you avoid the daytime shift in
Binions you will find some heroically awful players to take money from. That
said, it’s still an effort to get to Vegas, with an 11-hour flight in front of you.
But it’s a trip every poker player should make at least once. This is the home of
cash poker, and you can play 24/7 if you wish. There are plenty of awesome
rooms, but you have to tick off Bellagio, Binions downtown and the Mirage to
pay homage to times past. Go get ’em.
HOW? All you need to do is find about £1,000 to fund your trip and bankroll
a few games at the $1/$2 tables. Play tight and you should end up in profit for
the trip. Make sure you visit the Mirage, Bellagio and Binions – and read our
essential Vegas cash-game guide before you go.
7. Play poker in Macau
Why? The Vegas of the 21 century. Fast and loose poker ction.
Difficulty rating: 6/10
Macau’s secret was broken wide open during the last APT event, when Phil Ivey,
durrrr and John Juanda found seats in the high-stakes games that had been running there for over a year. You’re not going to get a seat in that game without an invitation and a Euro Millions win, but there are smaller cash games running as low as HK$10/HK$20. And with both APT and APPT events running online satellites you can indulge in some Macau madness without too much bother. Macau is a
unique place to play poker and unlike anything you will have experienced in Vegas or Europe. The atmosphere is frantic, chaotic even, with the Chinese players looking to wring as much gambling as they can from their few days on the island. It’s also much easier to reach than you might think, with cheap flights to Hong Kong and short boat transfers to Macau.
HOW? The simplest route is to book yourself a flight to Hong Kong with a budget
carrier such as Air Asia and then sort out a ferry to Macau. For the cash
games head to StarWorld, Venetian or Wynn.
8. Take on a pro heads-up
Why? Because you can. The ultimate bragging rights.
Difficulty rating: 4/10
The ability to sit down and play with the biggest stars is part of what makes poker the greatest game in the world. You can’t just rock up at Wimbledon and take on Andy Murray, but you can do the equivalent in poker. Fancy playing heads-up with Daniel Negreanu? Just pull up a chair! (And of course a few grand.) Ah yes, this is the problem here. If you’re a secret billionaire, then simply take a seat atyour local big game and wait for the pros to come scuttling. You will find Doyle Brunson is suddenly your best mate. The easier, and cheaper route, is to qualify for a WSOP event. Stick around long enough and at least one pro will join your table. It’s not quite the same thrill as a heads-up cash game, but you still get the bragging rights of saying you knocked Daniel Negreanu out of a tournament.
HOW? Qualify your way into a big live tournament or two, and cross your fingers.
9. Play poker for 48 hours straight
Why? Test your stamina, and the join the ranks of legendary cash-game pros.
Difficulty rating: 7/10
When it comes to cash games there is a simple rule. Don’t leave the game until
the fish does. Online this normally means only sitting for a couple of hours, but in live games, particularly in Vegas, this can mean epic stints at the felt. In the higher-stakes games the big fish will have flown in for a weekend blowout and don’t want to waste time with anything as unproductive as sleep. And if the fish don’t want to sleep, then neither do you. There are some legendary tales of sleepless pokersessions, with perhaps the most famous being a 90-hour heads-up game
between Ted Forrest and Hamid Dastmalchi that ended with the latter being carried out in an ambulance. We’re not suggesting remortgaging your house and taking a seat in Bobby’s Room, but in Vegas you can easily play all day and night even at low stakes. Let’s face it, 24 hours is for pussies. If you want to join the ranks of the legendary Vegas cash game pros you need to watch the sun rise at least twice
before taking your leave. Only then can you consider yourself a true poker pro.
HOW? Simply find a 24-hour cardroom and settle in for the long haul.
10. Play on a TV table
Why? Get your 15 minutes of fame and watch it forever on PokerTube.
Difficulty rating: 8/10
Okay, so let’s put some ground rules down for this one. A live internet feed from your local casino doesn’t count. And neither does anything on a TV channel nobody
has heard of. What we are talking is anything that could appear on Channel 4, Five, ESPN or Sky Sports. But let’s face it, if über-donk Steve Hill can manage to make the TV table at the WSOP then anyone can. TV tables are chosen ‘randomly’ at the major tourneys. And by ‘random’ we mean the producers look for tables full of pros and film them. So if you find yourself at a table and Phil Ivey is moved to your right and Vanessa Rousso to your left you might want to change your shirt.
HOW? First qualify for a big main event. Then either hope to get lucky, grab the
chip lead or make the final table. Simple
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