My summer secret weapon

Another summer for me meant another summer in Vegas at the WSOP. I hate trading the nice summertime in Europe for the desert heat. I would far prefer that the WSOP would be in some other time of year. Even in May (like it was originally) would be better than playing in June and July.

It seems to me I always run bad during the first four or five days of the WSOP, when I haven't adapted yet to the local time. Vegas is 11 hours behind Moscow. It's really tough those first few days to get on the right schedule.

I do think that, even though I have a tendency to run bad those first few days, I'm better off playing. I think it's easier to adapt to big time changes while you are doing something. It's really important in those first few days not to go to sleep too early. Poker helps with that, helps me to get a full night's rest as quickly as possible.


Kravchenko on his way to WSOP Event #61 final table ($67,742)

For me, sleep is the most important part of maintaining focus for the six weeks of the WSOP. It's important for any tournament series, but it's especially important for such a long grind like Vegas. I never go to bed later than 2am, even if I'm losing big in some cash game or even if the game is very soft and I'm winning big. There will always be another game some other day, but when you start falling behind in your sleep at the WSOP it's tough to catch up.

I play every day at the WSOP, tournament or cash game. Cash games are a little easier because I don't need to come in early and the cash game requires a little less stamina than tournaments do. Plus I can set my own schedule about breaks for food or to spend a little time with friends.

When I'm in Vegas, I'm there to play. Playing poker really is my passion. It doesn't make sense for me to come to Vegas if I'm not going to give it my all and play as much as I can, as many days as I can. As someone who enjoys swimming and hiking, I might take one or two days off the whole series for a little break at Lake Mead or Mount Charleston.
But those days are rare. Besides, who can be outside for very long in that summer desert heat? There were days in June when the temperature reached 46C in Vegas! Even up on Mount Charleston, the temperatures were still close to 35C. It's impossible to enjoy any time outside when it's that hot.

I'm better off at the poker table, making a living and pursuing my passion. Hiking and swimming is always waiting for me when I get back to Europe after the WSOP is over each year.

Alex Kravchenko is a member of Team PokerStars Pro. Photo courtesy of

Alex Kravchenko
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