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With more poker players than ever making a living by playing mainly live poker, it is important to find ways to save money when traveling for those live poker experiences. Tournaments can be found regularly in some areas of the world, but traveling is usually required to access events with the best guarantees, most appropriate buy-ins for a person’s bankroll, and the best series with multiple events in one location.

Travel for poker can be expensive, however. Without much planning, a player can go to the casino where the tournaments are being held, obtain a room at the casino, and return home in a matter of days. But there are many ways to save money on those trips to keep them from cutting into your bankroll and poker profitability margin.

Plan Ahead

To be a profitable live player, it requires planning ahead. Find the tournament schedules online and make plans to attend the ones best suited to your bankroll and poker skills. Once that portion of the schedule is done, search for discounted airfare or rental cars to those locations. If in Europe, research the trains, and in America, compare bus, car, and airline costs. Factor in the benefits of accumulating miles on certain airlines or with rental car companies, inquire about various age-related or membership discounts, and ask for friends’ recommendations. Take everything into consideration.

When planning for accommodations at the tournament locations, don’t limit yourself to the hotel connected to the poker room or casino. There may be a much cheaper hotel or even AirBnB nearby that would offer a discount that makes the walk or taxi fare worthwhile. And again, seek out all discounts offered by memberships as well as by tournament organizers.

Share Costs

Befriend other traveling poker players. When meeting a friend at a tournament location, sharing a room cuts costs in half. It also provides the opportunity to share groceries and other amenities that can result in savings. Best of all, there is a person with whom to share hand histories and stories from the tables. It can be beneficial to one’s overall mood and tilt-free attitude to share the experience with a friend.

If you have no close friends who share your love of traveling for poker, reach out to other players on forums or social media. Many players are also seeking to reduce travel costs, and sharing rooms has become more common in the poker community. Do make sure to get references or do some research to make sure the player is trustworthy, or simply get a safe in the room and protect your belongings until you get to know the person better.

Cut Food Costs

One of the biggest expenses during a poker trip can be food and drinks. Many professional players not only find there is cost savings in staying away from casino restaurants, but it leads to a healthier lifestyle, too. Bring as many groceries on the trip as are practical. Protein shakes, fruit juice, energy bars, and the close proximity to most casinos. If not, it may even be practical to take a cab to the nearest market to stock up on food, healthy snacks, and even bottled water.

Stay Within a Budget

The best way to keep from incurring unexpected expenses is to make a budget before each trip. It will help keep your overall costs within your means, and it can keep you from spending more of your poker bankroll than you can afford. Running hot or feeling lucky can prompt even the most conservative players to buy in to a tournament they didn’t plan for, so work with a budget and stay accountable to it.

Ask for Advice

Via social media or poker forums, feel free to reach out to poker pros who have traveled the circuit for years to ask for their advice. Many of them are experienced and ready to help others, as they want you at their tables, and the growth of poker benefits everyone. Ask for advice on travel in general, or solicit suggestions for hotels, airfare, food, and other accommodations at a particular location. Those tips can come in handy, and the savings gives you more flexibility to get the most for your bankroll dollars.

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Jennifer Newell

Jennifer has been a freelance writer in the poker industry for a decade. She left a full-time job with the World Poker Tour to tell the stories of poker. She now lives in St. Louis, writes about poker while pursuing other varied interests, and speaks her mind on Twitter… a lot.