'Your goal is survival'

CHRIS KITCHING -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:16 AM ET

How do you avoid folding in the pressure-cooker that is the World Series of Poker main event?

For starters, don't get psyched out by the thousands of people -- including spectators and poker's marquee names -- crowded around you in Las Vegas' Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino.

It's no easy feat, said Winnipeg's Sean Daulat, who finished 79th out of 5,600 players in 2005 and played a few hands alongside the pros at ESPN's featured table.

LONG DAYS

"When you first start the tournament your goal is survival. The pressure, I think, you put on yourself," Daulat said. "If you're going in thinking, 'I've got to make money,' you're going to be under pressure almost every hand."

He's been in only one World Series main event but was there long enough to learn how important sleep and rest are.

"They're long days. On the first day, I left my hotel room and didn't get back until 14 hours later," Daulat said.

Winnipegger David Williams made it to the second round last year but was bounced after a couple of bad beats lowered his stack of chips.

He didn't collect a paycheque, but being surrounded by thousands of poker players helped him learn more about the game and his own skills.

"There's nothing more fun than being in the biggest poker tournament in the world," said Williams, who qualified by winning an online satellite tournament. "There's just so much energy. It was a surreal experience."

He didn't try to qualify for this year's event because a scheduling conflict would prevent him from flying to Vegas.

World Series participants begin with $10,000 in chips, and Williams suggests they play their hands conservatively.

"I played aggressive and I lost on a big bet," said Williams, who was eliminated when about 2,500 of 5,600 card sharks were still in the hunt for poker's biggest prize.


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