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Mental Game & Life Strategy

The ability to set goals and the discipline it takes to achieve those goals without letting the rest of your life suffer are two of the most important things you need to master in order to improve as a poker player and begin getting serious about becoming a pro. One of the best parts of playing poker is getting out into the real world, playing in person, meeting new people and going on crazy adventures. This is also the riskiest part of the game because it takes you away from your comfort zone, and leaves you playing without your safety net. The solid footing of any healthy lifestyle depends balance and control, and a thriving poker lifestyle is no exception. Set realistic goals and learn to govern yourself so that you’re always working towards achieving your goals without letting the other, more glamorous things hinder your success. 

Table strategy is great to know, but you'll also need to understand how to manage yourself off the table to maximize your edge - and here’s where things get personal. I invite you to keep up-to date on my life and times as a poker player, and learn from my experiences so that you can learn from my triumphs and avoid my mistakes.  Any pro poker player will tell you your  mind is your most powerful weapon. Sharpen it, nurture it, rest it and give it peace so you can take to the tables - and your life - with killer confidence. 

WSOP Series: Surviving Vegas

Evan Jarvis

Ah, Vegas. The land of bright lights, big dreams and high stakes. For many of us, the thought of doing the Vegas thang is a dream come true - and it certainly can be - but if you get too blinded by the pomp and glitter, it can easily turn into a nightmare worthy of ‘The Hangover’-style portion. Or worse.

The good news is you can survive the circuit with your dignity and bankroll intact, but - like many things in life - you just have to be prepared. You'll encounter a butt-load of sway and swagger as soon as you hit the strip, so knowing what and when to act, and when to bow out is essential to your Vegas happy-ending. As someone who's been-there-done-that, here are my top tips for surviving Sin City. 

Tips for arrival...

1) Pace Yourself. I've already suggested that getting caught up in the hype is not the best idea, so don't run out to the first casino like a frat boy at an open bar wedding. Pace yourself - and prep yourself. 

2) Hydrate. The air in hotels can be dry, you will be busy, and you may imbibe a bit, so make sure your H2O quotient is up to par.

3) Vitamin Vitals. As you may imagine, germs abound in Vegas hot-spots, so take a vitamin C tablet (chewable, effervescent), every day to help protect bolster your immune system. 

4) Check Yourself. I know you're itching to get out there, and you've probably seen and are dying to see and do about a billion things, but take a moment to check in once you've settled in. What is it you want to do here? I mean really want to do? Remember to not get too distracted by the hype. Stay true to your vision – and your bankroll. 

Tips for getting out there...

1) Hydrate. Guess I can't say it enough. Get some water into your bod before you head out. 

2) Best for First. Do what you want to do first - don't save it for later. Vegas is a great place, but it also has a way of draining the hell out of a person. If you're really wanting to visit a destination, or play a certain casino, do it sooner rather than later. IF you are in Vegas to play a WSOP event, make sure you're not burning yourself out at the bars, clubs and events beforehand. You may really want to check that stuff out, but you're really there for one reason: to rock the felt. Refer back to your goals and stay focussed.

3) Get OUT of Vegas, Proper. One of the best ways to stay focussed and enjoy your trip is to get out the city itself. Lake Mead is an ecumenically appealing place to hang out, catch some sun and cruise around on jet-skis. (Which you can easily rent.) There's also an Outlet Mall just outside of the downtown area that has great brands at incredible prices - if that's your thing. Or you can just find a spot and chill. Trust me – after a few days downtown, you’ll probably need to.

4) Know the Hot-Spots. There's a lot of great stuff about Vegas that's advertised, but there are also a lot of opportunities a first-timer may not know about. If you're looking for great seafood, try Hot 'n' Juicy Crawfish. All American Dave's has great, healthier food for when you are tired of the deep-fried dishes. If you want to make some food for yourself, the Fresh and Easy stores are a solid pick. It's actually super important to make sure you're getting your fill of healthy food (and drink!) in Vegas. It's not all about slamming your face with shots and shit, you've gotta nourish your mind and body - especially if you're planning to play.
5) Rest. Whether it be grabbing a massage or just sleeping enough, rest is essential to surviving Vegas. This isn't only about sleeping at night. Take naps if you need to.

Tips for playing the WSOP...

1) Rest and Hydrate. Again and again and again. You need to be rested to make those tough calls, and trust me - hydration helps keep you focussed as well.

2) Lay off the Sauce. Booze and Vegas go together like Sonny and Cher: good in theory, but it won't pan out in the long run. I'm not saying to avoid booze altogether, but certainly before and during play. 

3) Register ASAP. If you've set your goals clearly enough, you should already know what WSOP event(s) you're going to play in - in fact, most people will have pre-registered before arriving in Vegas. In the event you haven't pre-registered, be sure to do so in person at Main Casino Cashier's Cage at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino. Once you're all set up, it'll be easier to relax and enjoy yourself.

If you’re feeling frazzled by any of this, it’s time to rethink and refocus. Simply being present and mindful is one of the best ways to actually enjoy yourself. If you need help, my team is stacked with tools and techniques. Check our resident poker-loving out Ashley Holly’s article for some amazing, mind-boosting yoga.

Check out this article on Meditation for Poker Players. Whatever you do, make sure you think back to my first point and be prepared. Vegas is fun, but it’s also a fucking monster.