5 Cheapest Ways To Get Yourself Into The Main Event
Playing in the Main Event is a dream for almost every poker player. Whether you’re just a casual fan of the game or someone who takes poker seriously, the idea of entering the biggest poker tournament of the year and have a shot at truly life-changing money is very appealing.
On top of the possibility of winning big money, the Main Event also offers a unique experience to rub elbows with the best of the best and potentially play a few pots with those players you’ve watched and admired for years.
But, as you’re probably aware, this experience doesn’t come cheap.
The buy-in alone is $10,000, then you’ve got all the other expenses connected to traveling to Las Vegas and staying there for a week or so.
So, what’s the best and cheapest way to get yourself into the Main Event?
We’ll discuss a few viable options in this article, and depending on your particular situation, you can figure out which one works best for you.
Option 1: WSOP Main Event Satellites
The simplest and the most accessible option for most players wanting to get their seat in the Main Event at a discount is playing satellites.
With this being the biggest and the most popular poker event of the year, you’ll have no problems finding heaps of satellite events, both online and at various live venues.
Of course, depending on where you live, online might be your only option.
But, if you’re looking to save money, online satellites are probably the best option as well, simply because you can start your quest for the Main Event seat with a fairly small bankroll.
Many poker rooms feature step satellites that start with buy-ins as low as $1.
If you finish in the money, you’ll progress to the next tournament, and so forth. Eventually, you’ll get to the main satellite, where a certain number of players will receive the Main Event entry.
To make things even better, rooms will often cover travel and accommodation expenses for their qualifiers.
If you have a bit of extra cash, but not exactly the 10 grand you need, you can always find more expensive satellites online or at live venues.
For example, in a $500 Main Event satellite, one in every 20 players will get a seat, which isn’t that unrealistic at all. If you’re already a decent player, you have decent odds of qualifying in two or three attempts, saving a lot of money.
If you’re serious about playing in the Main Event and have plans to do it, there is absolutely no downside to playing satellites.
Even if you have the money to pay the buy-in in full, jumping in a few satellite events to try and get in for cheaper is a good idea.
This is especially true for more experienced players as you’ll come across many amateurs who don’t really know how to play these types of tournaments, and you’ll be able to take advantage of their mistakes.
Even Chris Moneymaker got his seat through an online satellite, and if that didn’t happen, he most certainly wouldn’t have entered the Main Event and won a couple of million, which changed the poker landscape forever.
Tip: For those not as experienced, it’s probably a good idea to read up or watch some strategy videos for satellite tournaments before you set off on your journey.
Understanding how these events differ from traditional events and what kind of adjustments you need to make will be invaluable.
Option 2: Set Up A Home Game Qualifier
If you have a group of poker buddies who you play with in home games regularly, all of you probably share the dream of playing in the Main Event. If you put your money and your imagination together, you might be able to send one person from the group to “represent” you on the big stage.
The $10,000 amount may seem steep, but if there are seven or eight people working together towards that goal and if you start early enough, it’s not impossible.
For example, you could set up a weekly league with the buy-in of $50. All funds are collected and put aside, while all players are rewarded points for their performance in the tournaments.
If there were eight of you, that’s $400 a week, so it would take you about half a year to collect enough money to fund one Main Event entry.
The person with the best score at the end of the league would be the one traveling to Vegas and playing for all the marbles.
Be sure to agree on all the terms beforehand. Since you’re all putting in money and effort, everyone should get a slice of any potential Main Event winnings. For example, the person playing gets 50 percent of their winnings, while the other 50 percent is shared equally by the rest of you.
Tip: Get it all in writing.
On the off-chance that the person going to Vegas ends up playing for millions, it’s probably best to have all the details written down and signed. You don’t want your buddy to have a change of heart when they realize they’re supposed to part with two or three million.
One small problem with this approach is that you’ll need someone to handle the organization: creating tournaments, keeping track of the score, and, of course, taking care of the money.
The effort will pay off in the end, as even if you don’t end up winning, the experience of sweating your buddy in the Main Event and knowing you might be up for a handsome payday if they manage to make a deep run will make it well worth it.
Option 3: Secure WSOP Main Event Staking
Another very popular way to play in the Main Event for cheap or even for free is through a staking deal.
This essentially means that someone else will pay your buy-in, and in exchange, you’ll agree to give them a share of whatever you win.
Staking is a very viable option for established players, and many pros have regular backers who trust their skills and cover many of their tournament entries.
Although they give up some of their profits, these players agree to such deals because they decrease variance and can play their best game not worrying about money.
If you’re an amateur with no track record to show, though, it will probably be hard to get someone to stake you for $10,000.
But, if you’re really eager to play, there’s no harm in asking around.
If you happen to have a wealthy relative or a friend who knows you’re a decent poker player, you can ask them if they’d be interested in backing you for the Main Event.
Ideally, they should know at least a bit about poker, or else it will feel like you’re asking them to blow their money on a roulette spin.
If this isn’t an option, you can also get involved with poker forums and communities and look for some possibilities. Don’t get your hopes up too much as there is plenty of demand and a limited supply, but don’t let that discourage you, either.
People willing to stake someone $10,000 for the Main Event will be looking for someone who can play decent poker and, perhaps equally as important, someone they can trust.
Should an opportunity present itself, be prepared to honestly answer any questions your potential backer might have, and don’t be surprised if they ask for a big cut of profits if you win some money.
After all, they’re taking all the risk while you get to have all the fun.
Since you’re not a poker pro and this is your one-off shot, even if you get to keep only 25 percent of your winnings, it’s a decent deal.
And, if you show yourself trustworthy and honest, the same person might be up for putting you in some more tournaments in the future.
Option 4: Sell Main Event Shares
If you can’t get a full staking deal, you might be able to sell a percentage of your Main Event performance. In the poker world, this is known as “selling shares.”
For example, you pay $5,000 of your own money and then gather $5,000 from one or several people to cover the other half.
In this scenario, you keep half of your winnings. The other half is distributed to those who bought shares depending on how much they invested at the start.
This is something you can do even if you’re a complete amateur, so long as you have a nice group of friends who believe in your skills.
You’re not asking anyone to put up a huge amount. Instead, you can ask multiple people to invest $50, $100, or more – depending on how much they can afford and are willing to risk. You explain to them what they can expect back, and then they decide if they’re interested or not.
Given that the Main Event is a bit like a lottery in that it can potentially produce a substantial return on even a small investment, people might be interested.
An alternative way to go about this is to sell your Main Event package on one of the poker shares websites.
There are quite a few around these days, so you’ll have no problem finding a place to do it.
The problem is, much like staking, you probably won’t have much luck with selling shares online if you’re not a well-known player and don’t have results that show that you actually have an edge in the tournament.
You’ll probably have more luck convincing people who know you to take the risk over a bunch of strangers on the internet.
Of course, you can combine both.
You can sell shares for the same tournament live and online. Just keep track of all the money you receive and all the reservations someone asks you to keep.
Be warned that this can be a bit tedious, and some people might have a change of heart along the way.
How you handle these situations is entirely up to you. It’s probably not worth losing a friend over a hundred bucks, though, so if someone wants out before the tournament starts, just accommodate them and find someone else to cover the difference or do it yourself.
Option 5: Freeroll Your Way In
There are ways to get into the Main Event without spending a single cent, and without asking for money from anyone – but these aren’t guaranteed.
Many large online rooms organize freeroll tournaments that can result in the Main Event package where all your expenses will be paid.
However, to get your hands on such a prize, you’ll have to compete against tens of thousands of others with the same goal. You’ll need some crazy luck to emerge victorious.
Similarly, there are other free competitions and raffles giving away Main Event seats or Main Event satellite tickets.
Follow big poker operators on Twitter and keep a close eye on Twitch streams from their sponsored pros, and you’ll probably come across quite a few interesting opportunities.
These competitions often cost nothing but a few minutes of your time, so it’s a good deal.
But, just like freerolls, there’ll be thousands of others trying to do the same thing, so it is very little you can do to improve your winning chances.
The best advice we can give you is to stay persistent and to not give up.
Playing In The Main Event For Cheap – It’s Possible
Hopefully, the advice in this article has provided you with some ideas on how you could make your dream come true and play in the Main Event without spending $10,000+.
All of these options come with their pros and cons, and whatever path you choose will have a set of its own obstacles. But, if it were easy, everybody would be doing it.
Who wouldn’t want a shot at a few million for playing some cards?
The key takeaway is that it is definitely possible to get your Main Event seat for much less than it actually costs.
Of course, you’ll have to invest some time and effort and potentially give up some of your theoretical winnings, but it all boils down to how much you want it.
If it’s the Main Event experience you seek and you’re happy to give up some of your profits and don’t mind putting some effort in to make your dream come true – you can do it!
Lead Image: John Locher/Bleacher Report