So, you want to play in the World Series of Poker? Well, who doesn’t these days? Each year since 2003, the WSOP has broken attendance and prize money records of various sorts. This five-part series will show you the best and cheapest ways to get to Las Vegas, book a accommodations and a rental car (optional), win your way into the WSOP live and online, make the most of your Las Vegas experience, and finally, how to maximize your winnings during the WSOP.
Playing in the WSOP: Getting there
Make it a road trip (don’t do it)!
Driving out there alone isn’t something I would recommend, but if you are going to be traveling with a companion, there are some advantages to it if you plan on staying for more than a week.
The round-trip out to Las Vegas is roughly 6,000 miles, and will take roughly 270 gallons of gas. Pricing the trip out at the current price of about $3.40 per gallon, it comes out to about $920 just in gas. Tack on six nights of hotel stays ($60 per night), food and beverages ($25 per travel day), and the cost of the round trip creeps dangerously close to $1500. Splitting the cost with at least one other person will make it more tolerable, but is it worth all the energy? Driving cross-country can be fun, but it is physically taxing.
I suggest you save your energy for the WSOP and the Strip.
Getting to the airport
If you can talk a family member or friend into driving you to the airport, it is the best way to go. Hook them up with some gas money for their trouble.
The only reasonable alternative is parking in a satellite parking lot. It can save you close to $100 over the course of a week. Make sure to get to the airport about 90 minutes before your flight leaves.
Fly for cheap!
Go directly to the Southwest Airlines website, and check flights. They offer non-stop flights from Orlando to Las Vegas for right around $400. They don’t charge for checking up to two pieces of luggage. Southwest does fly out of Palm Beach, but not non-stop and the flights are more expensive and limited. If you don’t mind two-hour layovers, and don’t care what time you leave Florida and get to Las Vegas, you can save up to $60 on your fare by booking through Orbitz.com.
Spirit Airlines is cheaper if you want to fly out of Ft. Lauderdale. By joining their $9 Fare Club, you can nab a round-trip, non-stop flight for about $250. A year’s membership is to this club is $59.95, but the trial 60-day membership is only 19.95. If you don’t cancel your trial membership before the 60-day trial, your credit card is automatically charged for a year. Joining the $9 club for a year is worth the money if you plan on traveling at least one more time in the next year. Something else of note, $9 fare club members don’t pay to check bags and they are privy to things like $29 regional and Caribbean flights.
The flights were priced left during the week–Friday, Saturday, and Sunday flights will cost slightly more.
What about flight/hotel (and rental car) package deals?
The only way to get real value out of a flight+hotel package deal is by traveling with a companion. Right now, an Orbitz deal for two which includes airfare for two on Continental (with layovers, leaving and/or arriving at off-times) and a week’s stay at the Tuscany (an all-suite hotel just off the strip on Flamingo, the same street that the WSOP host hotel Rio is on) is just $988.54. A rental car will bring that cost close to $1,200, or you can just take a cab back and forth to the Rio for about $15 per round-trip cab ride (not including tip).
Southwest offers package deals straight through them. A non-stop, round-trip flight for one, plus a week’s stay at the El Cortez in Downtown Las Vegas is just $530. Another $135 ads a cheap rental car to the package. That is a nearly unbeatable deal, but Downtown Las Vegas isn’t for everyone. For $1,066 you can stay right at the Rio and never worry about transportation (other than to and from the airport). Rio, like all Caesars hotels, even offers a free shuttle to the Las Vegas Strip. The Rio isn’t a bad place to stay, and the rooms offer plenty of space. However, for those wanting the best place to stay for the money, Vdera at CityCenter’s week package is just $1,054.
Southwest claims their packages save 20%, and that’s not bad. I’ll cover this and more in my next blog, Playing in the WSOP (Part 2 of 5): Where to stay for the WSOP.