Las Vegas has been the death of many bankrolls. It’s easy to preach fiscal sanity before your trip and then go nuts once you’re in Sin City.
Being smart is particularly important when the World Series of Poker comes to town, bringing with it many options for cash games and tournaments – and, if you’re not careful, a major dent or devastation to your bankroll. That’s why it’s important to develop a budget and implement it properly once you’re in Vegas.
Before you leave for your trip, you should determine how much you’re willing to risk and then develop a plan for how to play within that bankroll. Here’s some advice on how to do that.
1. Play Tournaments Within Your Means
The WSOP and other summer tournament series offer you the opportunity to play events of any size, from $100 to $10,000 and up. I suggest you select a few that are most palatable to your bankroll, and buy into a higher buy-in event only if you cash for a good amount in a tournament early in your trip. When I was in Vegas for the duration of the 2016 WSOP I had a goal to play in the Main Event, but only after I cashed for $16,000 in the Monster Stack did I feel comfortable taking my shot.
2. Pace Yourself, and Your Bankroll
If you have $2,000 to take to Vegas to play at the WSOP for a week don’t blow through it and take out another $2,000 at the ATMs. You’ve got to pace yourself and be smart with your money. Sure, throw your bags on the hotel bed and head to the nearest cash game as soon as you arrive, but if you lose a few hundred immediately then by all means take a break.
Don’t lose a large portion of your bankroll the first couple of days after you arrive or you may end up going broke during the middle of your trip if your luck doesn’t turn. You’d then be tempted by the ATM and that’s never a good thing.
3. Beware of Sin City’s Dark Side
What’s that? Slots, pit games and the like. Don’t go all Cloutier in the casino, as many poker players have lost much of their winnings back to the house this way. Yes, have a little fun with some table game or slot action, but don’t blow a healthy percentage of your bankroll on the games where you are bucking odds that you know, ultimately, are impossible to beat.
4. Try the Envelope Method
If you need help with self control, try this trick. Let’s say you’re going to Vegas Monday through Friday. Seal one-fifth of your bankroll in envelopes marked with each day of the week. Take five more unsealed envelopes marked with those same days. Open each envelope only on the days marked, and then put any funds left over from the day (either a profit or a loss) in the unsealed envelopes and then seal them. If you lose all of your money for the day, quit playing and enjoy the city.
Unless you’re really unlucky, using this trick, you should leave Vegas with some cash. I used it during my first trip to Vegas (a primarily non-poker vacation) and locked up a win by my final day in town.