In the first installment of “Prepping for the WSOP,” we discussed what to pack for your epic trip to Las Vegas. This time around, we will discuss traveling to Vegas and picking your accommodations for your stay.
It’s often said that getting there is half the fun and that can be true for traveling to the World Series of Poker. Of course, the way you get there is going to depend on where you’re located and your appetite for adventure.
Once you get to Vegas, where are you going to stay? Sure, you can stay at the Rio, but there are so many more options and ones that won’t drain you bankroll.
Planes, Trains and Automobiles – Getting To the WSOP
First, how are you going to be traveling to the World Series of Poker? For some of us, the only option is to fly. If you live out of the country or you’re not willing to make the cross-country trek, flying is going to be your best option.
I advocate planning your WSOP trip as soon as humanly possible, which for most of means when the official schedule of events is released. Now if you know that you will be out in Vegas for the entire summer, you can start planning as soon as the dates are released.
One reason for this recommendation is that I’ve often found it is much cheaper to buy your tickets several months in advance. This holds true if you are trying to book for a date during the prime tourist season such as the summer. Even if you don’t save a ton of money, many airlines will let you pick your seat and booking early can make sure you aren’t stuck between two burly lumberjacks.
If you are planning on going to the WSOP for a majority of the summer, you may want to consider a one-way ticket. After my first year at the WSOP, I only booked one-way tickets. This allows you some flexibility in the event you want to extend your stay or if you decide after two and a half weeks that you’re ready to go home. Of course, if you happen to luck upon a super cheap round-trip ticket, the change fee may be cheaper than buying a one-way ticket, so keep that in mind as well.
For three years, I drove across country to the World Series of Poker from Virginia. There were a couple of different reasons. The first was that I wanted a car in Vegas and didn’t want to incur the extra expense but I also liked the adventure of the cross-country trip.
If this is something that appeals to you, make an adventure of it and plan your route as best as possible. You can also pre-book your hotel along the way, which can help you plan the trip. This gives you a reasonable idea of how much time you will be on the road each day.
Finally, if you are planning to take a train, know that the rail system doesn’t actually go all the way to Vegas. Be prepared to take a bus ride for the last leg of your ride. However, if you don’t mind the bus ride, a train ride across country is a unique travel experience and if you are willing to foot the expense of your own room, it is almost like RVing.
Where to Stay? How Much Do You Want to Spend?
One consideration that many newbies like to wing is accommodations. Some just figure that they will stay at the Rio and take cabs if they want to go anywhere. That’s fine if you are just going to be in Vegas a couple of days. However, I don’t recommend staying at the Rio for a long-term Vegas stay.
In terms of accommodations, where you stay is largely dependent on how much you want to spend. Some pros will opt to rent a house or an apartment for the summer and while this is one of the more “baller” options, it is often the most expensive one.
For those that aren’t worried about being a “baller,” consider a few alternate options. First, there are several Extended Stay hotels in the Vegas area with a few within blocks of the Rio. There are nightly rates but most have weekly and even monthly rates. These are great options for those that want more than basic hotel amenities. You have a full kitchen and most are like a studio apartment. Shop around for the best rate.
If you would rather skip the extended stay hotels, there are many options in Vegas where you can save a ton. Looking up options for hotels on Vegas.com, the Rio will cost you an average of $132 a night if you stayed there for the first two weeks of the WSOP. If you were to stay downtown at the Four Queens, you average $52 a night. ($32 to $36 nightly during the week.)
You will want to shop around for the best deal and pay attention to the reviews when applicable. Personally, I have never been disappointed with the Four Queens but there are plenty of hotel options that will save you money.
Finally, check around on Craigslist and see if anyone is renting out an apartment, room or guesthouse for the summer. Back in 2010, I was able to rent an adjacent guest apartment on a million dollar home during the WSOP for $1,500. It was complete with internet, plasma TV and pool access along with access to a laundry room. However, I have seen options as cheap as $450 to $500 for those renting a room. If you have transportation and aren’t looking to host or anything, this could be a fantastic option.
You Don’t Have to Spend Like a Baller to Experience the WSOP
For those of your coming out to the WSOP for the first time, you don’t have to bleed your wallet dry just to play with the pros. You used smart bankroll management to get your game to this point and you should use the same in planning your trip.
Using the above tips can help you save money and make the trip more of an adventure. Keep in mind that it does take a bit more planning save money in Vegas but you may find that you can save enough to maybe put in a few extra sessions at the table or maybe play in another event to try to win that elusive bracelet.
Next time, we will look at how to get around while you’re in Las Vegas. There’s more to getting around Vegas than hailing a cab. Find out more next time.