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WSOP Pro Tips — Take Time Off

by Bryan Devonshire |  Published: Jun 25, 2014

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Bryan DevonshireHere we are two weeks into the World Series of Poker. For the past eight years I have dutifully arrived in Las Vegas before the first event and stayed until after the main event. The first week is amazing. It’s the closest thing most of us have left to summer camp, except instead of archery and lake days we’re playing card games and keeping score with dollars. It’s not too far off really from the poker game I played in “the trading post” with my camp counselor colleagues using Indian beads instead of chips. Fourteen years later the game is the same, we’ve all just grown up some.

Two weeks in though, most of us have forgotten about those happy feelings of reunions and have moved into a state of head nods and occasional high fives in the hallways. Most of us are stuck about $15,000, a few of us have a bunch more money, and about twenty lucky bastards have a new piece of gold jewelry to pawn later in life. It’s important to remember that there are another five weeks to go, and if you lose your marbles now then you’re going to lose a lot of money this summer too.

It is absolutely imperative to take days off and to get out of the Rio. If you are staying off the Strip then this is somewhat easy to do. Simply take a day off, or go do something besides poker away from the Rio after busting from a tournament. If you are hoteling it, then getting off campus takes a bit more effort but is essential to your sanity. Here are a few of my favorite places that aren’t the Rio in the middle of June near Las Vegas:

Mt. Charleston is less than an hour away by car from the strip. Depending on your company and mood, numerous opportunities in pleasant weather are right up that hill to the West. Temperatures are routinely thirty degrees cooler up the hill than they are in the Las Vegas Valley and this makes Mt. Charleston my favorite getaway from the Rio. At the top of the village of Mt. Charleston is Mt. Charleston Lodge with a patio, bar, restaurant, and cabins for rent. Enjoy a cocktail and dinner outside on the patio as the sun sets. Very close to town are numerous hikes, I recommend Mary Jane Falls for something beautiful with a little challenge. Continuing West along the Spring Mountains brings you to Lee Canyon where the ski resort is. Check the meadows for wild horses and the best picnicking in Clark County. Even further West is the mysterious enclave of Cold Creek. A natural spring, one of many responsible for naming the Spring Mountains, begins its descent to the desert above the small town removed from the grid. The creek has been dammed in a couple of places and ponds have formed. Nevada Department of Wildlife has stocked the ponds with rainbow trout. Rocky Mountain Elk were introduced into the area in the early 1900s and have flourished. Feral horses from the mining days call Cold Creek home and will often come by seeking treats and attention.

If you can’t make it up the hill, then Lake Mead is your next best bet. You can drive as close to the water as you dare at Boulder Beach, about half an hour from the Strip. I have spent many hours sitting on a lawn chair chest deep in the lake. If the air’s 108 degrees and the water is 88, then you want to spend your time in the water. Put on a lifejacket upside down with your legs through the arm holes, buckle up, and go float in the water. Call it a diaper and make people laugh while suspended in aquatic bliss.

If being outside isn’t your thing, and you really enjoy being in casinos, then do yourself a favor and take an overnight staycation to Laughlin, NV just 90 minutes away from The Strip. The Riverside Hotel and Casino is owned by the man who started the town of Laughlin and still runs the joint with that 1950s charm that we all wish we experienced in Vegas. Walk along the boardwalk, enjoy a cocktail, and make sure you check out the greatest venue for seeing things that cannot be unseen at The Loser’s Lounge.

Alright, so you don’t want to leave the valley. Or you can’t, I get it. It’s still important to your sanity and financial well being to get your mind out of poker for a moment. Vegas is famous for its shows and music, go see something. Vegas is also excellent for food, with the best of it being off the strip and cheaper. Check out Capo’s Italian Steakhouse for an excellent Italian meal in the best atmosphere I have ever experienced. Capo’s is great for friends or dates. Lotus of Siam is the best Thai place around, and it is in a strip mall near the Green Door, which you should check out if you are into swinging. Musashi is the poker player’s favorite, the best teppanyaki place I have ever been to with pictures of our colleagues all over the walls. They’re open until 4am every morning too! I’m fond of places like Insert Coins near downtown and the Pinball Hall of Fame on Tropicana East of the strip. The latter is a fantastic collection of vintage coin-op games next to a bar, the former is a bunch of coin-op games merged with a bar and a nightclub. You can rent any console and any game to go with your booth and bottle service.

Whatever you do, it is important to do. Getting away from the Rio and poker even for just a few hours in the middle of the WSOP grind is essential to bringing a good attitude and sharp mind into every decision on the felt. Our goal is to make money, and taking time to rest and recreate in the midst of our pursuits of money will ultimately yield more money in the long term. And now that y’all are taking days off and salty, I’ll be arriving to town all fresh and smily, and only staying for a couple of weeks. It’ll be my first summer since 2005 that I haven’t spent seven weeks captive to the Rio and I’m strangely excited. ♠

Bryan Devonshire has been a professional poker player for nearly a decade and has more than $2 million in tournament earnings. Follow him on Twitter @devopoker.