The United Kingdom has produced a plethora of world class and well-known poker players, from your old schoolers like Dave ‘Devil Fish’ Ulliott and Victoria Coren Mitchell to the new age poker crushers like Stephen Chidwick and Charlie Carrel.
For those unfamiliar with the make up of the UK, it is made up of four different countries; England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. So, for the purpose of this Smartcasinoguide, I will be looking at the poker hotspots of each of these countries so if you are ever on a poker trip around the UK, you’ll now have a guide of what cities to visit to get your poker fix.
Now, I am biased here. I think Cardiff is the best city in the UK in terms of proximity for things to do and see.
And as my hometown, I am fortunate that there are three casinos within close quarters of each other where poker is offered every day of the week all year long. Each casino also has their own unique selling point, too, so whether you are a cash game player or poker tournament aficionado, you’ll find a game for you in the capital city of Wales.
If you are in Wales and looking for a cash game, the best place to play is at the Rainbow Casino in the city centre. It is the most popular destination for cash game players however the stakes here usually play at £0.50/£1 which is low however, but you can buy in for 250 big blinds, which does help the game play bigger.
A small cab fare away you have Grosvenor Casino and Les Croupiers, which are the places to be if you are a tournament player. My preference of these two is Les Croupiers due to being the more busier of the two on any given night, but when the GUKPT is in town then the best place to play is at the Grosvenor Casino. This is when you will find the biggest games to play in Wales.
Game selection here is limited, you will find the odd PLO cash game but from my experience, these tend to happen during tournament breaks.
Cardiff is great to play because you will always find a game you want to play be it cash or a tournament. Then, once you have finished your session, you are a short walk away from one of the best places for nightlife in the UK.
For anyone who knows UK poker, they should know of the Dusk Till Dawn casino in Nottingham. Owned by Rob Yong, Dusk Till Dawn is the largest poker room in the UK with over 40 poker tables for you to choose from.
The game selection is more varied here than in Cardiff too. You can play No-Limit Hold’Em, Pot Limit Omaha or Dealer’s Choice games as well as hop in to one of the many poker tournaments that run at Dusk Till Dawn.
And if you are familiar with Rob Yong on Twitter, you know he’s all about trying to give people the best live experience. I’ve yet to play here personally but from what I hear from friends and poker players, it is their favourite poker spot that they have played in the UK.
As for the city itself, Nottingham is full of history and when you are not at the table, there’s plenty for you to indulge in and keep you busy.
Choosing where to play poker in London was a difficult choice between Aspers and The Vic. But I think The Vic narrowly seals as the place to play when in London. Many of the elite poker players in the UK would have cut their teeth at one of the 25 tables you can play at in the Vic.
It is also home to GUKPT and EPT poker festivals, so you know the standard of the poker floor staff will be of high quality, which is crucial when you can jump into cash games with stakes of £25/£50 and £50/£100.
Also, like Dusk Till Dawn, you can play your standard NLHE games as well as 4/5/6 card PLO. You can also jump into mixed and dealer’s choice games.
The Alea in Glasgow is a beautiful room to play some poker in, it is stylish, modern and elegant.
This room again offers varying stakes that suits any poker player regardless of bankroll size. This is the same for the tournaments they have on offer, too.
For those with the bigger bankrolls, you can play at the VIP suite to avoid the hustle and bustle of the main casino and once you are done, Glasgow is one hell of a city to explore.
Unfortunately, if you are in Northern Ireland looking for a poker game then I am afraid I have some bad news. Live casino poker in Northern Ireland is illegal. This also applies to home games, which have been known to be raided in the past with all cash and assets seized.
As you can see, the UK offers some great spots to get involved in some poker action. If you are more of a recreational player who just happens to be in the UK, then I think Cardiff is the place to be for you. The player pool is a bit softer and the games do not play nearly as big when compared to the poker rooms in England.
But for those looking to take shots and see if they can tough it out at the bigger games, then Nottingham and London are where you need to be.