How to qualify for the WSOP

It’s the world’s biggest poker
tournament and you can play
a starring role. What are you
waiting for?

‘Internet qualifier scoops millions playing poker!’

You’ve seen the news headlines. And we’ve been banging on about Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer since their lives were changed for a fraction of the cost of the $10,000 buy-in. But how does it happen? And, more importantly, how can you make sure you’re the one who trousers the millions? Read on…

It’s all about satellites. Satellites are tournaments that let you play for places in bigger money tournaments, for a smaller buy-in. Think of them as a sort of pyramid scheme. At the bottom you’ve got the ultracheap buy-ins with thousands of people, all paying for a few hundred places one rung up the ladder. Further up you’ve got the more expensive buy-ins, with a much smaller field and direct entry into the big money tourney. Eventually, you’re left with one winner, who cops the lion’s share of everyone’s cash.

Satellites were ‘invented’ by Eric Drache, a professional poker player, who, when running the World Series of Poker in the 1970s, devised them as a means of swelling numbers. And it worked, probably better than he could ever have imagined. In the 70s you had only a handful of people who were good enough, or rich enough, to stump up the $10,000 buy-in. Now, hundreds of thousands of people, just like you, are furiously competing in daily satellite feeders for a shot at the Big One.

Some say that satellites have made the WSOP too popular. And with a field of up to 8,000 players, it’s by far the world’s biggest poker tournament and one that’s seen by a lot of top pros as a crapshoot. Do we care? Nope, and neither should you. The Main Event is still the tournament to win. It’s the one that guarantees instant fame and fortune. But it’s also the tournament that’s worth playing in just for the experience. Every poker player should harbour an ambition to play in it once, so set aside a small chunk of cash, a weekend, and try to win a seat. You never know, this year it might just be you.

First thing’s first

Don’t just launch yourself into the first qualifier you see in the lobby. Make sure you sort out the practicalities first. Things like…

How much money are you willing to spend to try and qualify, given that you might, just might, not succeed?

Make sure that you’ve set aside enough time to play in all the satellites you qualify for. Some of the higher-level satellites that feed straight into the Main Event are geared towards US time zones and might keep you up most of the night.

It might sound obvious but make sure you can take the time off to actually play in it. The Main Event shuffl es up on July 28 and, should you make the fi nal table, doesn’t fi nish until August 10.

The challenge: Qualify for the Main Event or die trying

Every decent online operator offers satellites to the World Series. We decided to chance our arm on a couple of sites:

1. Pokerstars,
PokerStars runs more satellites and sends more people to the WSOP than anyone else. This year it’s aiming to send 25 percent of the field – 2,000 out of the 8,000 runners! It’s also got the last three world champions on it’s books. We aim to be the fourth.

2. Full Tilt,
Full Tilt is running a massive freeroll to give away $1m worth of seats for nothing. Oh, and if you win the Main Event after qualifying through this site the nice people at Full Tilt will double the first prize money – an estimated $10m. And we’d like a bit of that.

Which way?

There are lots of different types of satellites, from frenzied freerolls to single-table shootouts, through MTTs and rebuys. Each one requires a different strategic approach, and each one suits different poker skills.

We’re going to look at all of them, and provide you with some solid strategies – enough to get you on the plane to Vegas in July. But only you know where your poker skills lie. If you consistently boss the sit-and-gos, stick with them as far as possible. If you’re a rebuy specialist, then hit the rebuys. Skint? Get yourself in for the freerolls and $2 turbo games and keep your fi ngers crossed.

If you don’t make it, don’t panic, look out for next month’s magazine when we’re going to run an exclusive freeroll for a WSOP package with all the trimmings!

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