You may have heard me write about "BJ's Pocket Guide" on Twitter, or you may have seen somebody using a copy at the WSOP. Many people have asked me for a copy without having any idea of what it actually is.
Basically, BJ's Pocket Guide is a daily schedule for the WSOP.
The official schedule of events at WSOP.com is great if you want to see which events start on which days, but it doesn't give you a clear look at what is happening on any given day.
If you look up yesterday's date (June 29th), you'll see that Event #51 ($1,000 Ladies No-Limit Hold'em) began at noon, and Event #52 ($2,500 10-Game Mix) began at 5:00 pm. That's it.
But there weren't two events taking place yesterday -- there were four.
There was also Day 2 of Event #50 ($5,000 No-Limit Hold'em) and Day 3 of Event #49 ($1,500 Ante-Only No-Limit Hold'em). Most days in the middle of the WSOP have five or six events going on simultaneously.
So BJ's Pocket Guide simply takes the data from the WSOP schedule, and rearranges it into a format that is more useful for a day-to-day point of view.
It's a subtle change, but it makes a big difference. Personally, it allows me to get a clear grasp of what's actually going on at the WSOP, even though it is spread across different rooms.
Of course, BJ's Pocket Guide also includes the same straightforward list-based schedule as the WSOP website, because that's a useful way to scan for specific events.
In addition to the schedule, the back section of the Pocket Guide is a WSOP recordbook, listing interesting WSOP stats like who has the most WSOP bracelets, which players have won multiple bracelets in a single year, and which women have won bracelets in non-Ladies events. There's also a rundown on the history of the WSOP Main Event, with the field size each year, first prize, and who won it.
All of this in a small, convenient size of 3"x4" that literally fits in your pocket. That's where I usually keep mine.
The Pocket Guides came out late this year, but in the first couple of days after I gave them out to about 50 players, three of them had won bracelets. David "Bakes" Baker (Pocket Guide #122) won the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. event, Allyn Jaffrey Shulman (Pocket Guide #111) won the Seniors Event, and Chris Tryba (Pocket Guide #125) won the $2,500 Mixed Hold'em event.
I started joking on Twitter how lucky the Pocket Guides were, and then Antonio Esfandiari -- who received Pocket Guide #78 -- had 80% of the chips in play with three players left. It looked like the Pocket Guide owners were about to claim their fourth WSOP bracelet in four days. Wow.
Unfortunately, Antonio ran into some horrible luck at that point, losing a huge pot with pocket nines against pocket sevens -- a seven hit the flop -- and busting in third place a short while later.
There were no bracelets for Pocket Guide owners since then, until last night.
One of the most prestigious events in poker is the WSOP's $50,000 Poker Players Championship, where players must compete against the best in the world in eight different forms of poker. This year it attracted 108 players, and 11 of them had copies of BJ's Pocket Guide.
When Luke Schwartz was eliminated in fourth place, the three remaining players -- Andy Bloch (#150), Chris Klodnicki (#81), and Michael Mizrachi (#178) -- all had copies of BJ's Pocket Guide. The Pocket Guide had hit the trifecta!
So is the Pocket Guide lucky?
Well, in my experience, there's no such thing as luck. On Twitter, I point out the things that make it *seem* lucky, like when Pocket Guide owners win bracelets. But I usually don't mention the disappointing results, like when Pocket Guide owners Erick Lindgren (#100) and Daniel Buzgon (#147) busted on the verge of the $1,500 Ante-Only NLHE final table in 11th and 12th respectively. Or that Dwyte Pilgrim (#158) made the final table in $3,000 Limit Hold'em, but only finished 5th.
So no, the Pocket Guide isn't lucky. Nothing is. But it's still pretty cool and useful for those of us who are at the WSOP for six straight weeks.
How Do I Get One?
By this point, you're probably saying, "This sounds pretty good. Where can I get one?"
Unfortunately, you can't.
I'm not allowed to sell them at the WSOP for a couple of reasons (no vendor license, official WSOP publishing deals), so I spent my own money to print a small run of 200 Pocket Guides, and I gave them away for free. No rules against that.
First priority went to the WSOP staff, because they bust their asses, and they've always been helpful to me. The executive team, the floor staff, and even the interns. There are far too many dealers for me to give them all Pocket Guides, but I have given about half a dozen to different dealers.
Second priority goes to my peers in the media. I try to make sure everyone who works for PokerNews has one, because they are responsible for the official coverage and that's not an easy job. Unfortunately, I don't have enough to give them to *everyone* in the media, so the people I don't know often go Guide-less.
The last in the line of priority is players.
Unfortunately, the list of players that I like and respect is much, much longer than the number of Pocket Guides that I have available. And the way I distribute them has an unfair amount of randomness -- there are some players who rank high on my list of favorites who don't have Pocket Guides. Others who were lower on the list got a Pocket Guide by being lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.
I'm working on a plan to print more Pocket Guides next year, and either offering them for sale or getting the WSOP to distribute them directly to players and staff.
But for this year, if you don't already have a Pocket Guide (or I've told you I'm holding one for you), it's probably too late. I only have two copies left.