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I like going to the World Series of Poker in the early stages when it’s less crowded and you can pretty much slip in and out without being noticed.

You know, the old cloak and dagger routine.

Of course it helps knowing the logistics. For example, don’t valet park at the Rio’s front entrance off Flamingo. Instead use the valet off Twain where the Convention Center is located. It will save you a lot of needless walking.

Also, by going early you can mingle with all the fine folks trying to sell their products, like G2E. There’s no better place to promote anything poker related than at the WSOP in Las Vegas.

And there is plenty of variety, whether it’s books, fantasy poker (similar to fantasy NFL, baseball and the like), eyewear, clothing, and a massage booth.

If you are lucky, there’s always the poker itself going on in the showrooms though the quiet is a bit unnerving compared to what you normally experience at the Main Event. But the big show isn’t until early July so there’s a lot of time to get acquainted and acclimated to the 2014 edition.

A few things caught my eye such as the surreal W S O P that produced a neat reflection off the marble floor. Then there was the Phil Ivey exhibit complete with website.

Ivey was a no show here last year after having issues with the WSOP. The wounds have since healed and Phil not only is playing but has stopped by his booth when time warranted.

We weren’t lucky enough to see Phil this time around, but did get the skinny on his Ivey League website built to educate all types of poker players.

“Ivey League is a poker training site,” said Atamea Deadwiler, one of the representatives at the site’s booth just outside the tournament playing areas. “If you want to get better at poker, this is the place for you.”

There are different levels of training at Ivey League. First is undergraduate, which is free of charge. Next is bachelors going for $9 per month and $70 for a year. The highest is masters at $75 a month and $500 a year.

“You get videos from Ivey and other advanced players,” Deadwiler said. “Everyone who is a member is doing well. For a long time Phil wanted to create a place for people who wanted to learn poker.

The headquarters is located in southwest Vegas off I-215 at Warm Springs and El Capitan. It’s been around six months. Ivey, 38, has won nine WSOP bracelets, one World Poker Tour title and appeared at nine WPT final tables. He is regarded as the best all around player in the world.

“Everything is cool with Phil,” Deadwiler said. “He is here to win more bracelets.”

Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].

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