I’ve been pretty fortunate over the first couple of years of my still young poker reporting career to be able to see some amazing places in the world, but if there’s one thing I’d like, it’s a bit more time to indulge in some of the locations I get sent to.
Unless a few days are booked around a stop you’re working (which isn’t always possible – y’know life, responsibilities, and other work gigs), with the long days on the tournament floor it sometimes can be tough to actually explore outside of the casino.
So, when the opportunity comes along for a gig with this poker media site, where the focus — along with the tournaments and cash games themselves, of course — is everything great that comes along with it and getting to share it with our beloved readers, Cardplayer Lifestyle founder Robbie Strazynski certainly doesn’t have to ask me twice!
With that said, it’s off to Spain for WPT Prime Madrid! There’s so much to be excited about for this one, but we’ll keep it to a tight Top 5 things I’m looking forward to next week in the Spanish capital.
1. WPT Prime Madrid Itself
The WPT Prime tour has set up shop in some amazing locations in France, Italy, South Korea, India, Taiwan, Singapore, and Australia to name just a few, and now the tour makes its debut in Madrid, Spain.
Earlier this month, in one of the tiniest but most beautiful countries in Europe, Liechtenstein, WPT Prime broke its record for entries in a regular season Main Event with 1,644 taking their shot at a massive $1,841,280 prize pool and David Kozma of Hungary taking home $300,541 for first place.
Going from one of the smallest locations on the tour to one of the largest lends itself to the question, how long will that field size record last?
Madrid is an incredible location for a poker tour stop, especially on the tail end of summer, and with the momentum of the Liechtenstein event, that WPT Prime attendance record may well fall with next week’s €1,100 Main Event.
2. Exploring Madrid
When it comes to travel, cities and beaches are some of my favorite places to visit. Got both? Then you’re at the top of my list. Los Angeles, Miami, and Barcelona are some of my favorite places that I’ve been to. That’s right, Barcelona. The other major city in Spain. In fact, it may just be at the top of my list.
I’ve mentioned this to friends who’ve been to Madrid in the lead up to this trip, and they have almost unanimously said. Nope, Madrid’s better, the city is incredible!
My eyebrows have raised each time I’ve heard that, and my expectations are now crazy high. I can’t wait to get out there and explore this wonderous place that will apparently make those beaches of Barcelona irrelevant when it comes to determining my favorite Spanish city.
As a huge sports fan, one of the sites I’m most stoked to see is the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, which is one of the most famous stadiums in the world and home to one of the most famous teams in the world, Real Madrid. Catching a game will be a must.
My inner literary historian (wait, I have one of those?) is eager to check out Casa Botin. Dating back to 1725, it’s recognized as the oldest restaurant in the world and was also a spot frequented by Hemingway during his famous Spanish travels.
Sightseeing at some of Madrid’s most famous locales including Puerta del Sol, Gran Via, Plaza Mayor, and the Royal Palace is on the to-do list, as is just chilling on a rooftop terrace or patio (which are apparently some of the most vibrant in the world) for a cerveza.
3. Madrid’s Premier Poker Venue
One of the locations I mentioned above is guaranteed to be crossed off my to-do list because the casino hosting WPT Prime Madrid is the Casino Gran Via right smack in the middle of one of Madrid’s most famous streets, known for its entertainment and nightlife.
Some of the most famous buildings in Madrid are on Gran Via, and Casino Gan Via is certainly one of them. The building itself is celebrating its centennial anniversary in 2024, and while I’ve yet to set eyes on, or feet inside, this venue looks like one of the most unique and glamorous venues for a poker tournament that you could imagine.
I could write more about it, but instead, I invite you to just check out the casino’s website, it has an entire section dedicated to the building itself. It seriously looks like something out of a James Bond movie.
I wonder if I can expense a tuxedo rental for the WPT player party? 🙂
4. Playing Poker in Madrid
I mean, I am there for poker, right? I’ll be putting together a review of what the Casino Gran Via website says is “Probably, the best poker room in Spain.”
Some European poker rooms that I’ve played in are very different than their counterparts in North America. Prague and Paris in particular had some of the most memorable rooms that I’ve played in, with a lot of glamour and class packed into smaller rooms. If your poker room has chandeliers, we’re in business.
From what I’ve seen online of the Casino Gran Via’s poker room, it may not have chandeliers, but it appears to have a very sleek, sexy, modern vibe. The tournament area for WPT Prime appears to be away from that in a ballroom with — yup — chandeliers!
I can’t wait to dive into a session in each room, not just for the aesthetics, but to experience first-hand what I’ve been told is an outstanding setting for both cash and tournament players of this game that we love.
5. Hangin’ with the WPT Family
Not to wrap up by getting mushy and stating the obvious, but the experiences you share in life are always made better by the people you’re with. The poker world is maybe the epitome of that sentiment.
Working at these huge events, be it for WPT or other organizations, I’m fortunate to spend time with a lot of wonderful, talented people who share the same passion for poker that I do, none more so than the incredible team at the World Poker Tour.
From the live reporters (like myself) to the event management staff, to the on-air personalities, the World Poker Tour truly makes each event feel special for everyone attending. Players, staff, co-workers; everyone knows they’ve been to an amazing tournament series because of the dedication and efforts put forward by every member of the WPT team of which I’m proud to say I’m a part of.
For this upcoming event though, I get to be a bit on the outside of the team, in that I won’t be working directly for them while I cover the proceedings for Cardplayer Lifestyle. I’ll instead get to experience WPT Prime Madrid with a bit more time away from the tournament floor to enjoy with them socially when I’m not working on my series of articles for this site.
I mean, paella and tapas are just better with good friends, right?