Poker is truly a game played all over the world. Even in places where there are no legal brick and mortar poker rooms or where it’s impossible to legally play online, like where I live here in Israel, we still play poker in home games. I’m fortunate that on my travels for work I often get to play poker in a number of great locales. While Las Vegas is my favorite place to play, I certainly enjoy the quirks and uniqueness of getting to experience the game of poker in Europe. Thus far, I have been fortunate to get to play poker in eight European countries, namely Spain, Romania, Bulgaria, Malta, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, and the European part of Russia (thank you, Sochi!). There are over 40 countries in Europe, so perhaps over time I’ll get to add a number of extra names to the aforementioned list, but here are the top five I hope to add most.
Yup. Believe it or not, despite being home to European Poker Tour stops, 888poker LIVE events, one of the continent’s premier poker clubs in Dusk Till Dawn, and dozens of lovely poker rooms I’ve read and written about over the years, as well as a number of poker industry colleagues of mine, sadly I’ve never played poker in the UK. I spent my honeymoon in London 20 years ago (this week, in fact), but that was actually the last time I set foot on British soil. Plainly put, revisiting the UK specifically in order to play some poker is something long overdue on my to do list.
When I think of the words “Italy” and “poker” I can’t help but picture 2010 November Niner Filippo Candio running around ecstatically after hitting his miracle card against Joseph Cheong to stay alive in the WSOP Main Event. While of course there’s a LOT more to Italian poker than that legendary scene, what I always loved so much about that outburst was Filippo’s passion, which is something that all Italian players seem to possess.
Admittedly, I wouldn’t even know where to find a poker room in Italy off the top of my head, so I’d have to consult online sites like Casinònonaams.com, but I’m pretty sure that once I find a room to play in, I’d really enjoy soaking up the atmosphere of a place where the players are so passionate about the poker.
As short as perhaps half a decade ago, this was a country that wasn’t even on my “poker map”. That said, it feels like Tallinn, the country’s capital, is hosting an increasing number of tournament series in recent years. From The Festival to the Patrik Antonius Poker Challenge and more, the city’s Olympic Park Casino is home to tons of great northern European action that I’d like to see with my own eyes sometime soon. Especially as they seem to enjoy non-Hold’em poker variants, I’m looking forward to mixing it up with the locals.
The Emerald Isle is steeped in poker history. Home to the Irish Poker Open, the second-longest-running poker tournament series after the World Series of Poker, Ireland has produced its fair share of great poker events and players. I had long wished I could play at the famous Fitzwilliam card club, but it sadly closed a couple years ago. Nonetheless, some great series still take place there, for instance stops along the UKIPT and Unibet Open tours.
Poker aside, Ireland’s long been one of my bucket list destinations, so I can definitely foresee a time where I decide to finally jet off to Dublin or thereabouts. Maybe I’ll find a four-leaf clover for good luck during what’ll surely be a whirlwind of great sightseeing, taking in the lovely music in traditional pubs, and staring across the felt at some smiling Irish eyes.
This island nation makes my list of the top five places I still want to play poker in Europe based on proximity alone. Less than a 90-minute flight away from my home airport in Tel Aviv, Cyprus’s Merit Poker room has been hosting great events since 2009. Especially as this room will imminently be expanded to be among the largest in the world at close to 200 tables, it’ll be a must visit for every poker player and fan. Already hosting top-tier events like the Triton Series and the upcoming Mediterranean Poker Party, I can see myself hopefully visiting Cyprus to play poker multiple times in the future.
Sneak preview of new poker venue @Merit_Poker Crypus which will host MPP Aug 19th – Sept 15th
Schedule is growing https://t.co/8Nx7NnwIwq
— Rob Yong (@rob_yong_) July 8, 2022