The Blueprint for Winning an Entry in the WSOP

Poker Table with Casino Chips, Poker Cards Spread, WSOP Poker Logo
Are you good at poker? Do you think you have what it takes to make it to the final table and walk away with millions of dollars in poker winnings?

If so, maybe it’s time you started thinking about playing in the World Series of Poker. Sure, for some of you, that’s a huge jump.

It’s one thing to dominate your local poker room, the nearest casino, or multiple tables online. It’s another to walk into a gathering of the best poker professionals in the world and test your poker gaming knowledge against theirs.

While we can’t promise that you’ll make the final table at the World Series of Poker, we do promise we have a blueprint to get you qualified to play. It’s going to take some time and effort, but you can do it if you try. And, hopefully, it will cost you far less than the standard $10,000 entry fee.

Sound interesting? Ready to play poker? Good, let’s get you that entry!

1 – Play Poker. A Lot.

At some level, this part of the blueprint should be a no-brainer. When you make it to the World Series of Poker, you’re going to want to do well. To do well, you need to have excellent poker skills. The best way to get excellent poker skills is to play.

However, there’s more to this piece of advice than just getting you ready for the big tournament. Unless you can get that $10,000 entry amount, you’re going to have to qualify to enter.

Qualifying to enter means paying a much smaller entry fee then winning a tournament. To win a tournament, you’re going to have to play a lot and play well.

Therefore, before you even think about winning at WSOP, make sure you are playing regularly and you are winning. No offense to your friends and the locals you play with, but they are likely less skilled at poker than the competition you will have to beat to earn a WSOP entry.

Fortunately, if you’re trying to get a WSOP entry, you love poker, so this step shouldn’t be too tough.

2 – Ramp up Your Competition

Once you’re in a steady rhythm of playing poker, you have to step up your competition. Unless you are regularly playing with guys who made top eight at a WSOP event, you could stand to find tougher opponents.

Two Poker Players at Table Grabbing Chips, Red Versus Banner

Again, I don’t say this as any kind of slight against you or the people against whom you play. However, you are doing two things simultaneously. One, you are trying to compete on poker’s biggest and most prestigious stage and two, you are going to challenge other players for the right to play in the game.

The competition that you meet along the way will be tough and you need to be ready. Therefore, seek out the toughest casinos in your area. Play the highest stakes tournaments online. If you can, visit the City of Las Vegas and play the fanciest rooms. That experience will prove invaluable.

3 – Don’t Forget Sweepstakes

Every other piece step in this journey will be focused on entry into the WSOP via satellite tournament win. Fortunately, you also have a plan B that might get you there as well. You actually have a better chance of winning a tournament, but there are several sites that give away WSOP entries as part of a sweepstakes.

Caesar’s Palace is particularly famous for giving away entries every year in a sweepstakes.

You would do well to enter as many of these sweepstakes as you can because it’s far cheaper than paying a lot of satellite tournament entry fees and, should you win, you can really focus in on just preparing for the WSOP.

4 – Find a Lesser Attended Satellite

As we said above, your best bet to make it into the WSOP without paying an arm and a leg is win via satellite tournament. Founded in the 1980s, satellite tournaments are smaller (though not necessarily small) events that offer one or more tournament entries as part of the prize.

These satellite tournaments are held all over the country in casinos that are geographically located so that most people can drive to one without being in the car too long. Also, fortunately, each one of these casinos will have a mini season (usually covering two weekends).

The tournament schedule for these satellites starts the day after the WSOP ends, so visit the World Series of Poker’s website to find an event near you. However, once you do find a satellite session near you, it’s time to be strategic.

Crowd at Poker Tournament, Pile of Cash

First, these satellite tournaments are not cheap. The minimum buy-in is at least $250 for the chance to play. Secondly, the number of tournament entries is determined by the number of people who play. Some would argue that it makes sense to find a bigger tournament with more entries, but if you can find a satellite tournament at an odd time, a smaller tournament might be your best friend.

Determining when the attendance is likely to be at its lowest will take some recon. If you can, attend several events at various times and days to see if this has an impact on that particular casino. If you’re not close, calling the casino and asking might be your best bet. Either way, try to have enough of a bankroll that you can enter at least two tournament odds to increase your chance of winning.

5 – Play Online Satellites

Fortunately, online poker houses will also have satellite tournaments. The particular sites and what they take to enter will vary, but hopefully you are already playing online poker and can determine which sites will be doing satellite tournaments from their marketing.

Just like showing up and playing poker in person can be somewhat costly, usually entry into online satellite tournaments will you cost a fairly significant amount of virtual currency.

Fortunately, though, that virtual currency is easier to replace (and less harmful if you lose it) than real money.

Still, be prepared to shell out a lot of virtual coins for multiple plays in qualifying tournaments.

With that said, playing online is a great way to qualify. Every year, the WSOP coverage highlights one or more players that were entered into the tournament via an online satellite. Many of these players advance past the first day. With that said, there are fewer online qualifiers than those who qualify in a real world tournament.

6 – Book a Ticket to Vegas

If you’ve already gotten your entry, then it’s time to make your reservations. However, if you are still trying to get your WSOP entry, Las Vegas is still where you want to be.

There are a number of places in Vegas who are continually hosting qualifying tournaments throughout the year. Some of these satellite tournaments are standard events like those you will find around the country.

Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Book Now Orange Sticker

However, the times vary every year, but the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino has partnered with WSOP to host a number of back-to-back satellite tournaments. Therefore, if you can make it to Las Vegas, you open yourself up to the largest number of onsite qualifiers as possible.

Again, though, the WSOP website can help you here by giving a list of all the real-world qualifiers going on in Vegas. Then, you can plan accordingly.


Like we said, following the blueprint to an entry into the World Series of Poker won’t be a walk in the park. There’s no magic formula that guarantees you will gain an entry just like there’s no magic formula to winning every tournament you play.

Still, the good news is that, with the exception of filling out a few entry forms, the path to getting your entry and not paying $10,000 doesn’t take much more than playing a lot of poker. That’s why, wherever you are and whatever time of year it is, if your dream is to play in the WSOP, start playing more now.

As you get comfortable with playing more often, seek out the best and the brightest poker players you can and play against them. Learn from them and from your inevitable mistakes. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to find a local satellite tournament and test your mettle there.

If you don’t win the first time, take heart. You got to play poker and maybe take a little trip. That’s not a bad day all in all.

Still, whatever you do, keep at it. If you dream is to play in WSOP, then you will get your chance. Just keep playing.