London is one of a few destinations on the European Poker Tour to have featured in each year of the EPT. This year it will look a little different.
We should admit to a tinge of bias during the London series. It is, after all, where a good part of the blog is based. But while The Vic on was an acquired taste, what with those rules about short trousers, it’s replacement this week will be enjoyed by all.
The Grand Connaught Rooms lie not between the kebab shops and mini markets of west London, but amid the glittering theatres and opera houses of Covent Garden.
Once the sight of a vegetable market, Covent Garden is now a focal point for shopping, eating and performing, with the Theatre Royal and the Royal Opera House located nearby, bordered by the Strand to the south, Bloomsbury to the north, Soho to the west, and the city to the east. It is slap bang in the middle of London’s beating heart.
None of that really matters to those inside the Connaught Rooms, who will hope to avoid as much of that as possible. Perhaps that’s why the playing area itself has been selected for it’s aesthetics, a pleasing picture of sophisticated opulence.
The Shard (right), at night
In place of The Vic’s cosiness is instead space and grandeur, all balustrades and balconies, chandeliers and champagne, to accompany the echo of chips. So if you’re going to spend eight hours getting eliminated from a poker tournament there really is no better place.
Among those making an appearance today in the £50,000 Super High Roller event are the usual big spenders. They include Team PokerStars Pros Daniel Negreanu, Jonathan Duhamel, Bertrand Grospellier and Jason Mercier. They’ll be joined by the locals Sam Trickett and Talal Shakerchi as well as foreign raiders Steve O’Dwyer, Tobias Reinkemeier, Erik Seidel, Dan Smith, Mike McDonald, Mike Watson, John Juanda and adopted Londoner Viktor Blom.
Rise of the Super High Rollers
Each will be making a little EPT history, this being the first of the tour’s Super High Roller events’ to take place the British capital.
Play begins today, with the final table taking place as the Main Event kicks off on Sunday, part of a series of events keeping idle poker players busy for the next nine days – all of which you can follow on the PokerStars Blog.
Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.