Times were that a poker vacation took place only in the summer. A short trip to Vegas for a week or two might be all you could hope for. Even as recently as 10 years ago, when Cardplayer Lifestyle founder Robbie Strazynski wrote this article describing three ways to keep your costs down on a poker vacation, the idea of an all-year-round poker trip would have been few and far between.
That was then, this is now. Live poker is undoubtedly enjoying a second boom, and the game’s calendar is packed with tournaments from the start of January to Christmas and each New Year’s celebrations. Poker isn’t just everywhere, it’s everywhen.
In 2013, many players’ priorities would have been to save money, as Robbie advised. Surviving to the next event with more than you started was seen as optional. Then came Game Theory Optimal (GTO) play. There are courses and poker training sites dedicated to this alone and the influence of the rise of GTO has extended beyond the poker felt to the idea of a poker vacation itself.
Now, the thought behind a poker trip isn’t just to save money, but to make money. Lots of it.
To help you, we’ve come up with not three, but five ways to maximize your profits during that poker trip. Money saved might be money earned, but money won is money earned twice as sweet. Let’s push for profit.
1. Research Your Stay
Before you go anywhere on a poker trip, its worth putting in the hours to find out exactly where you’re heading if you’ve never been there before. As Robbie said, this might include researching events, getting a casino membership or, if you’re Allen Kessler, checking out the local restaurants with the best deals, but we’d extend it to everything.
Find out the best hotel room you can get for the money you’re prepared to spend, then contact them directly to see if they have any early bird deals you can take advantage. Establish the opening hours and cash games at the cardroom where you’ll be spending time. Even look at the surrounding areas in terms of juicier games if you have time.
Do everything you can to make sure you know your new destination inside out and then rest and prepare well for making a profit. In the past, maybe you looked at a poker vacation as a chance to relax and unwind. Flip that mentality! Start seeing it as a way to make as much money as you can, returning to your home country a poker player who has grown their bankroll.
2. Pack in the Volume
Once you’ve reached your vacation destination, choosing what you’re going to play is next. Many players who treat their poker vacation as an opportunity to kick back will pick a couple of tournaments, sometimes including the Main Event but other than that, they have plenty of free days. Are you here to relax by the pool and peruse casino apps that pay real money, or are you here to exercise your skill at the felt and play live poker?
Instead of maxing out on the Main Event, why not put your buy-ins to more immediate use, playing the early tournaments and getting in amongst the cash games on days between the events you’ve chosen to play? By packing the volume in at the top of the festival, you give yourself a great chance of winning early, which can have the knock-on effect of paying for your ticket to the Main Event.
3. Buy and Sell Action
As well as playing, you may want to invest your money in other players taking on the tournaments or crushing cash games. Investing in a friend in a cash game is tricky business; you could end up landing at the same table unless you’re playing in a different format. In tournaments, however, making some swaps is a great idea. It reduces variance and does more to guarantee you profit, as long as you invest in strong players you know to be reputable.
When it comes to buying action, there are a number of sites that offer an easy route to putting your money behind some of your poker heroes. Spread your purchases over strong players in different events and you’ll be guaranteed at the very least a good sweat in multiple tournaments, something that should inspire you to deliver if you’re doing the same thing!
4. Mix It Up
No Limit Hold’em is a great way to play poker, but it isn’t the only format of the greatest card game on Earth. As we discovered at the recent Mixed Game Festival at Resorts World in Las Vegas, mixed games are hugely popular right now and a poker vacation can be the perfect time to fall in love with a new version of the card game you love.
If Pot Limit Omaha has escaped you, H.O.R.S.E. has never entered your own stable or you’re more likely to groove to jazz than Razz, then a poker vacation is the place to be. Seek out a mixed game of your choice that fits towards the lower end of your budget, learn the basics online in some tutorials or if you can afford it, a specialized course. We’ve even put together an overview to branching out in our Mixed Games Poker Guide.
5. Think Games Ahead
An old British comedy sketch went thus: two men sit playing a game of chess, and one man tells the other that rather than thinking moves ahead, he is thinking games ahead. In the case of the joke, it made the man look foolish: chess is virtually impossible to do this in. But in poker, you really do want to be projecting a little further into your trip.
Plotting a written course through a poker vacation might look like the scrawls of a mad person or a family man’s shopping list: nothing makes sense, and everything is in the wrong order. Instead of flunking the test when you get to the venue, ace it by drawing up a plan for the second week dependent on what happens in the first week. If you win big, will you reinvest it? If so, which tournaments will you play? How much will you utilize for buying action and which players are already planning their own trips to the same destination as you?
Making the best of a poker vacation is all about making the most of your time at the felt. IF you’re a winner there, planning in day trips and time to relax looks a whole lot better when you’re doing it with profit.