Everyone has advice. Why is there so much advice for players traveling to Las Vegas to play the World Series of Poker for the first time? The main reason is that everyone who has been there can think of at least one thing they wish they knew before their first WSOP.
The standard tips that apply to everyone are relatively straightforward:
- Make reservations early and use discount codes where possible.
- Plan to bring food to the WSOP or pay sometimes-outrageous prices for casino food.
- Make a tournament schedule, especially if wanting to play in other series besides the WSOP.
- Figure out bankroll limitations, prepare a trip budget, and know your tax implications for winnings.
- Stay healthy in the Las Vegas heat by hydrating and exercising.
These types of tips are all important – very important.
In addition, there are some tips that more specifically apply to women going to poker’s summer camp in Las Vegas this summer.
Tip #1: Dress comfortably and in layers
Every woman in poker is different with regard to styles and preferences. Some lean more toward jeans and t-shirts, while others want to wear their cute shoes and summer tops.
Keep in mind that a tournament day can be 14 or more hours long, taking into consideration registration and breaks. And at any casino, there will be a walk from parking to the poker room. In the case of the WSOP, there is also a walk from Paris’ ballrooms to the Horseshoe’s convention center. There will be quick walks to bathrooms on breaks, and there may be a rush to grab food during dinner breaks.
My advice: Opt for comfortable shoes.
Of course, it is summer in Vegas, which means temperatures outside can easily surpass 100° F. For any outdoor walking or activity of any sort, summer clothes are a must. However, casinos are notoriously cooler. And poker tournament rooms, such as the vast ballrooms of the WSOP, can be chilly, especially for those seated near an air conditioning vent.
My advice: Bring layers, including a sweater, sweatshirt, or jacket. Don’t underestimate the power of a casino’s AC.
I was blessed recently to be able to interview 5 powerful, wonderful women in poker for my newest article on Cardplayer Lifestyle. (@PokerLifeMedia)
Thanks @Kyna_CooL, @chrisreadpoker, @abbypoker34, @FirstLadyPoker and Terry King!https://t.co/easCui4htc
— Christina Bradfield (@mauichri) November 14, 2022
Tip #2: Backpacks are better than purses
Purses are often a part of a woman’s style. The most stylish ones can also be small and impractical. For women who carry large bag-like purses, those might be enough for playing poker tournaments.
The best bet, however, is a backpack. Not only is it smart to pack an extra layer of clothes (see tip #1), it is beneficial (and budget-conscious) to carry water bottles and snacks. Add in a phone charger, a tablet and its charger, a book, headphones, mints or gum, and toiletries for freshening up midway through a very long day, and all of this adds up to the need for something more than a purse.
My advice: Find a backpack that fits your style and use it for poker days.
Tip #3: Make a plan
Every poker player should have a plan when they arrive in Las Vegas. Even locals have a plan to implement when the official summer of poker begins. There are dozens of tournaments on the WSOP schedule alone, not to mention series also happening at Wynn, Venetian, Aria, MGM Grand, Golden Nugget, and Orleans. There are also dailies and special events (such as Cardplayer Lifestyle’s Mixed Game Festival V) at casinos like Resorts World, South Point, and Bellagio.
To get the best value and play the tournaments that best suit one’s skills and budget, a plan is vital.
When making that plan, also consider the parking and/or transportation options for each location. Women must be more careful when determining the safest choices balanced with the most affordable ones.
Women traveling to and from casinos alone should know that parking garages do not always have security present, though it is possible to ask for a security escort or walk with a friend – or even a nice family that is going in your general direction. There is no shame in asking for company in lieu of walking alone.
Valets are available at casinos, but new rules in Las Vegas allow them to charge quite a significant sum for those services. Research those options before pulling up to a valet only to find out that it is reserved for hotel guests only or that it costs $30.
My advice: Have a plan, weigh the costs and safety of various forms of transportation, and never hesitate to ask someone for a walking or traveling partner.
Tip #4: Be alert
This tip is very much in line with tip #3, but it pertains to even more situations. Women walking alone can be targeted more frequently for scams, especially from someone asking for help. Women can also be targeted by general creeps by way of creepy behavior.
The world is what it is, but stay alert. When replaying a hand in one’s head on the way to dinner, stay alert. When on the phone with a poker coach walking from one casino to another, keep an eye on your surroundings.
The best option is always to walk in pairs or groups, but there’s a lot to be said for solitude after leaving a busy tournament area or poker room.
My advice: Stay alert at all times.
Tip #5: Consider alternatives to carrying cash
This mostly applies to poker players with larger bankrolls, but any poker player should be wary of carrying too much cash.
Of course, buying in to tournaments with credit or debit cards incur fees, and using some online services like Bravo can do the same. However, consider the worth of these services as an alternative to the dangers of carrying cash. Some people are perfectly comfortable with cash as their circumstances make it more feasible. If not, know that there are other options.
If carrying cash is a must, know that a casino employs security personnel for many reasons. Do not be afraid to ask for an escort to your rental car or to the valet. These are services that casinos should provide to keep their customers safe.
My advice: If carrying cash is a must, ask for a security escort.
Tip #6: Know your poker rights
Some women will be playing in a big tournament series or even cash games for the first time. There are intimidation factors for some, but one of the most daunting is not feeling sure about table or tournament rules.
Do a little research before sitting down at the tables. Read the tournament rules first so there is no question about raise sizing or the type of table talk that is permitted. The WSOP, for example, posts an updated set of rules ahead of its series. Those rules are based on the latest industry-wide rules posted by the Tournament Directors Association.
It’s important for all players to know poker rules. New players can erase a level of intimidation by knowing said rules, and women can know some ways to counteract men who might choose to harass them. Some important ones in tournament play are as follows, specific to the WSOP:
- Section IV, Rule 40c: All participants are entitled to expect civility and courtesy from one another at every table and throughout the WSOP area. Any individual who encounters behavior that is not civil or courteous – or is abusive in any way – is encouraged to immediately contact a WSOP tournament official.
- Section VI, Rule 116b: Participants are obligated to always protect the other participants in the tournament. Therefore, whether in a hand or not, participants may not advise or criticize play at any time.
- Section VI, Rule 119: Repeated etiquette violations will result in the imposition of penalties assessed by the tournament staff. Examples include, but are not limited to, unnecessarily touching other participants’ cards or chips, body, or clothing, delay of the game, repeatedly acting out of turn, betting out of reach of the dealer, or excessive chatter.
My advice: Know when you can ask the dealer to notify floor staff due to player harassment.
The next poker boom will happen when we as operators/players/enthusiasts make more women feel safe playing the game we all love. This is done by making sure the tables are always kept safe for all, respectful for all, diverse and inclusive of all.
Zero tolerance on any abuse.
— Sean McCormack ♠️ (@ThePokerBoss) February 24, 2021
Tip #7: Know how to report abuse
Some women claim to have never experienced harassment when playing poker. Others have told tales of varying levels of harassment and abuse. It is important to know how to report abuse, should it occur.
The first person in the line of reporting is the dealer. Sometimes, however, a dealer may not have seen or heard the behavior in question or choose not to warn the offending player(s). In that case, a player can demand that the dealer call a floor manager. That individual can then rule on a situation or dispute and regularly does so to take the onus off the dealer, considering the dealer must continue to interact with all players at that table. In the case of an egregious offense, WSOP Vice President Jack Effel and has long been the WSOP Tournament Director and will make a final ruling.
Women should also know that there are security personnel located around any poker tournament area and in any casino in general. If feeling uneasy or uncomfortable for any reason, make note of the location of those security guards. Feel free to ask their advice or request assistance from them as well.
My advice: Always report harassment and/or abuse. It is the only way to stop it.
Tip #8: Get to know other women in poker
The number of women in the overall game of poker remains small in proportion to the general poker population. Tournament poker continues to see only approximately 5% of fields represented by women. Cash games are more difficult to determine, but the number is typically in the single-digit percentage in any given poker room at any given time.
There are many great women in poker. Some are new, some are veterans of the game, and others might be recognizable names from televised poker, podcasts, or livestreams. Say hello. Ask around and see if there is a group of women doing the dinner break together. Exchange numbers to have a coffee or tea before the next tournament day. Engage with them in some way.
Broaden this community. It is the women of poker who will ultimately be responsible for growing our community, along with our presence at the tables and our influence within the industry.
My advice: Just say hi!
Happy International Women's Day to all the fierce, intelligent, and skilled women poker players here!
Remember that you belong at the table, and you have what it takes to become a legend.
Hit the PLAY button and enjoy this inspiring video.
🆓 Chips 👉 https://t.co/hSgftM1w70 pic.twitter.com/dUafgwE8W1
— WSOP_Game (@WSOP_Game) March 8, 2023
Tip #9: Ask other women
When it comes to finding out how to navigate the poker world in general, there is no better person to advise a woman than another woman.
Ask another woman for advice about the best tournaments or cash games, the poker rooms that best protect women, the safest parking garages, or the best allies in poker overall. Broaden those topics to ask other women for the best coffee recommendations or healthy food options or place to find a quiet moment.
Not only will a woman find the best path in poker by asking other women, but this dovetails nicely with tip #8 of simply getting to know other women in the game.
My advice: Simply ask women.
Importantly, this is a vital tip for men in poker, from players to top-level executives. When there are questions about women – how to encourage them to play, how to make them feel safe, find out if they prefer women-only or open events – ask women. It is far too common to see men pontificating on social media about topics that involve women, in poker and beyond. It seems like a logical step, but it has become clear that this must be repeated… often.
My advice: Talk to women.
Tip #10: Find the fun
Poker is a serious career for some players, but the vast majority of players – whether pros or semi-pros or recreationals – are at the tables to have fun. They want to enjoy the experience.
If a table is too serious, make a joke. If a table is abnormally quiet, say something. It doesn’t hurt to be proactive and encourage a fun atmosphere.
Poker has not endured and grown purely because of the potential to earn money or win a life-changing tournament. These are goals for many players, of course, but the game perseveres because it is an enjoyable and entertaining experience for most players. Every player can control how enjoyable and entertaining that experience is.
My advice: \ Have fun!