Even though I have lived in Las Vegas for the past three years, it has been almost 4 years since I had stepped foot inside the Rio. The odd thing about the last time I was there was that I did not get to see any actual poker. I was killing time at the Rio and had decided to go exploring on the property not realizing that they were in the process of setting up the WSOP. It was cool to walk the halls and dream about what could be if I ever had the opportunity to play in a WSOP tournament. At the time I didn’t think it would ever happen and I was content just being a fan of poker. A few years later, who knew I would be playing poker as a professional.
When it was announced that the WSOP would be returning to live play for 2021, I was excited. I would not be playing any of the events. Instead, I would just be grinding cash games. I prepared myself as the start of the WSOP came. I talked about what to expect with friends and my coach. Getting advice about what I should do and where I should go. One of the most important things to have during the WSOP is a Caesar’s Diamond Rewards card. This status will allow you to jump to the front of the list. The second thing I found out is to not worry about being able to play in the actual WSOP area. Most of the good cash games are going to be in the front where all the drunk players end up. Fortunately, this was not going to be an issue since the poker room at the Rio did not open back up. The last thing is something that I had to learn to do during the WSOP, and this was casino hop. I find that most of the time I will just go to a casino and stay there for the night. I personally didn’t really see any benefit in leaving and going to another place but during the WSOP it can be more lucrative. It’s a good idea to build a little network of friends who are dealers or players so they can let you know where the good games are. I was able to find out about some games that I would have never even thought to check.
My first six sessions were pretty good. There was nothing amazing about them. I averaged around $390 profit per session. On the seventh session it finally started to happen, variance had shown up. I had a losing session, followed by a winning session, and then when I thought it was just a bad day… I had three more losing sessions. In terms of profitability the games were great, and I had a hard time taking myself away from the table. The swings were real, and I had to keep my focus on the overall long-term results. As the weeks passed by the cash games at the WSOP started to die out a little and I found myself starting to casino hop. I found myself splitting my week between different casinos. Most of the time I ended up playing at Caesar’s Palace, WSOP at the Rio, or Resorts World but sometimes I would go to a different poker room to hang out and play some poker.
One thing that I loved about playing during the WSOP is that players were not afraid to play short-handed. I frequently found myself playing four handed for an hour or two while the early birds were waking up and making their way to the poker room. For anyone that ever complains about not getting enough practice for a final table, remember that there are players who will keep playing a cash game when its short. Don’t be that person that asks to break the table because you don’t want to play short-handed. Fun things like mandatory straddles, playing blind vs blind, and silly prop bets can happen. Then there is the most important thing about playing short-handed, you get some experience and find yourself in interesting spots.
You would think with so many players there to play events in the WSOP that the games could be a little tough. What I realized is that many of these players do not know the differences between the strategies of a tournament and a cash game. A lot of players seemed to still be playing as if they were in a tournament trying to leverage what their push/shove charts that they memorized told them to do. Other players would get lost in the hand and default to checking, leaving lots of opportunities to steal. Then there were players that went all-in often, so when playing against them it was just a matter of waiting for the right hand and snapping them off. All you had to do was pay attention to the table and you could easily spot who was who and frame your strategy around those reads.
It was a long six weeks for me and as much as I enjoy playing poker, I was also looking forward to taking a break. The action was great, and I look forward to next year when the WSOP returns. There is a lot I can tell has changed about my game during the past six weeks. I will be ready to grind the cash games again in a few months. For now, it’s time to reflect, study, and apply concepts.
Bizzy’s 2021 Gains: $9299.58