How to Prepare for Your First Ever World Series of Poker Tournament

The World Series of Poker (WSOP), an annual series of poker events, is back in full swing. It opened on September 30 and will run until November 23 at the Rio Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada where it’s held every year. This year marks the 52nd edition of WSOP, bouncing back from the postponements in 2020 — and it is a great display of the resilience of poker as a sport and its community.

Poker is an exciting hobby and entering a tournament like WSOP is a great way to test your skill and experience. Now is as good a time as any to start preparing with the tournament already underway. You can learn a thing or two by watching amateurs and pros battle it out on the felt by tuning into the the televised games, and through these tips:

Know the practicalities of the event

According to, you can register for the WSOP live at the Rio or online through the Bravo Live app. This year, there are 88 events spread out over three weeks and you can choose to join one or multiple events. You can pay for the buy-in online as well, which can be as low as around $400 for small events to an average of $10,000 to a whopping $1,000,000 for the Big One for One Drop event.

Since it’s always held at the Rio, make sure you book your stay in the hotel or nearby. You’ll also need to bring essentials to the convention center, such as a sweater (it can get cold), a water bottle, snacks, and a card guard to keep your hole cards to yourself.

Whip yourself into shape

If you’re skilled and lucky enough, you’ll make it past Day 1 but prepare for long hours on the floor. Any pro poker player will tell you that you need to be in shape for this. As early as now, incorporate exercise into your routine, as well as good nutrition and sleep. Our article on ‘What to Do for Back Pain: 6 Tips and Tricks’ could also prove useful to you in the tournament, as you might be spending a lot of hours sitting at a poker table.

Practice in live events

There’s a lot of difference between online and live games, so you need to gain exposure playing in person. Seek local friendly games in your area or satellite tournaments where you can develop essential skills, like bankroll management.

Additionally, you’ll need to learn to read body language. Interestingly, pro player Liv Boeree says that a player’s feet can give you crucial information. Maybe their feet shake due to nerves, most likely because of bad cards, or tap in excitement. Don’t forget to take a peek under the table instead of just focusing on their face or their banter. It’s common for players in WSOP tournaments to be wearing sunglasses anyway, so their eyes might not give you a lot of information!

Learn to deal with pressure

At the WSOP, there are cameras, onlookers, and high stakes, which can create an environment entirely different from what you’re used to.

Pressure can lead to bad decisions and Maria Konnikova, psychologist and poker player, has a few suggestions. First, acknowledge your emotions and your reactions to them. This can help you develop greater self-awareness and recognize how your decision-making is clouded by your feelings. You need to think objectively, as poker is a game of probability — the better you can analyze that, the better informed your decisions will be. You’ll be less likely to make careless mistakes.

Just have fun

The best and most important advice, however, comes from poker elite Daniel Negreanu who holds several WSOP wins. In an interview with, Negreanu tells rookie players to focus on having fun. This might mean playing small at first and entering events with low stakes. The WSOP is an exciting event open to anyone and it’s best to come with an open mind. You can rub elbows (or butt heads) with big names in poker and become a breakout star in one weekend. However, you could learn more when you’re actually enjoying the process, instead of getting frustrated by it.