Chris Moneymaker: "Vegas will kick your butt if you're not ready"

Chris Moneymaker
Posted on: June 07, 2023 06:48 PDT

This is part of a series of content to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Chris Moneymaker's historic Main Event win – look out for regular columns from Chris and special features all the way through to the 54th Main Event, which is shaping up to be the biggest of all time.

Vegas will absolutely kick your butt if you're not ready for it.

It's been 20 years since I won the World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas. A lot has changed, but I see some people make the same mistakes every year.

I've made some of them, but hopefully what I've seen and what I've done can help you through your summer in the desert at the WSOP.

Routine is everything

You have no idea how many times I see people who can't keep their eyes open on a Day 2 because they stayed out partying the night before.

Don't make that mistake. But, in order to avoid it, you have to make a plan in advance.

Las Vegas history Las Vegas always has something going on

Vegas always has something going on. Every day, 24/7, something is happening in that city. It's a pro and a con about the city. If you jump at every opportunity, you'll end up sleeping, or wishing you could sleep, while I'm raking pots.

You should know which events you plan to play before you step foot off the plane. Plan days off between events if you'll be there for a while. Get plenty of rest at night. These tips may sounds basic, but discipline in the small things makes all the difference in a city like Vegas.

I'd personally recommend never playing more than two tournaments in one day. Bust one, maybe hop in a second one you have as a backup plan. I've played three and four before, and busted them all. It's not good for the psyche, or the bankroll, usually.

Where to stay, what to eat

Back when we were at the Rio, finding good food was a little more difficult. There were one, maybe two places I'd eat at down there.

Now that we're on the strip, there's no shortage of good places around for your breaks.

For the dinner breaks, make sure and make a reservation in advance. You'll generally know approximately when the break is scheduled. The last thing you want to do is be scrambling for food, or to not make it back in time during later stages of a tournament.

As far as where to stay, I like to stay at Bellagio, The Wynn, or The Aria. Especially now that it's at Horseshoe/Paris, I'd recommend finding something within walking distance if possible.

2021 wsop las vegas poker (Image source: Twitter)

When I stayed at the Bellagio last year, I was able to walk across the street to the venues. Getting outside and getting a little exercise is a great way to start the day when you spend all day inside at the tables.

Unfortunately, I also got Covid last year. I had to spend all day inside my hotel room, so I didn't get to explore the nearby area as much as I would have liked.

Still, the advice applies. Stay fairly close, plan your meals out beforehand, and take advantage of being able to walk to the venues to start your days.

Listen to your body

Vegas will wear you out. The heat, the long days, the non-stop distractions; they take their toll.

After four or five days in Vegas, I'm tired. And I don't party, I don't drink, none of that. It can be an exhausting grind.

These days, I fly in for the Main Event. When I bust, I'm ready to catch the next flight home.

Echoing the rest of my advice, listen to your body. These days can be difficult when you're at the top of your game. If you're stretched too thin, exhausted, or hung over all the time, you're asking to burn out or worse.

"After four or five days in Vegas, I'm tired. And I don't party, I don't drink, none of that. It can be an exhausting grind."

Chris Moneymaker on pacing yourself at the WSOP

Best of luck this summer

Some of you are already in Vegas. I'm still at home with the wife and kids, spending the summer with them as I normally do.

You might be grinding out all seven weeks of the series, or you might just be targeting one event like myself. Either way, the work you put in in advance will pay off in the long run.

Prepare well, play well, and run good. Best of luck this summer.