The European Poker Tour (EPT) swings into Barcelona this month as it has for the past 15 years. Here’s your complete guide to the city and the event, which kicks off August 20.
The only ever-present destination on the PokerStars annual tournament calendar, EPT Barcelona is also almost always the most popular. The record number of Main Event entries came here (1,931 in 2018), the record number of Main Event unique players came here (1,785 in 2016) and there have been six Main Event millionaires. The same kind of record-breaking applies to both the Super High Roller and High Roller events, as well as to a packed calendar of side events. When you add a perfect beach-side location, a number of well-appointed and well-positioned hotels, and one of the world’s highest-ranked holiday cities, the appeal of EPT Barcelona is plain to see.
The popularity of EPT Barcelona owes much to its host city. The Catalan capital, and Spain’s second largest city, is regularly listed among the most visited tourist destinations in the world. In fact, the only bad things you tend to hear about Barcelona concern just how popular it has become.
The tournament is held at Casino Barcelona, in Port Olimpic, as far east in the city as you can go without falling into the Mediterranean. It’s an excellent location for relaxing on the beach or sand-based activities and well as for heading out into the ocean. It’s right by a marina, where you can take boat trips, hire jet-skis, or go fly-boarding, wake-boarding or ride an inflatable donut.
The Casino is on the edge of the Barceloneta district, and only a short walk along the beach from the main tourist areas, including the Gothic Quarter, which is flanked by La Rambla, and Placa de Cataluyna.
Perhaps more importantly, it’s also only a couple of blocks from the Ciutadella Vila Olimpica metro station, which opens up the rest of the city. Barcelona’s Metro is efficient, clean and cheap, with easy unlimited use travel passes available for two, three, four or five days. (Single tickets are also available.) Sagrada Familia has its own metro stop, and you can get to Camp Nou from Les Corts, Badal, Collblanc or Palau Reial. There should be no problem in getting pretty much anywhere from close to the casino.
Address: Casino Barcelona (annexe at Hotel Arts) Marina, 19-21 (Port Olímpic) 08005 Barcelona Spain
2019 KEY DATES
National: August 21-25 – €1,000
Super High Roller: August 24-26 – €100,000
National High Roller: August 25-26 – €2,000
6+ (short deck): August 25-26 – €25,000
High Roller: August 30-September 1 – €10,000
Main Event: August 26-September 1 – €5,000+€300
Single-day High Rollers:
August 26 – €25,000
August 27 – €50,000
August 29 – €25,000
AIR: Most overseas visitors will fly to Barcelona, landing at the city’s modern El-Prat airport (BCN). All major European carriers, both low cost and full fare operators, fly direct to Barcelona and the airport is as well appointed as any in the world.
METRO: Barcelona Airport is also on the city’s Metro, with both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 on the orange L9 (south) line. You’ll likely need to change trains a couple of times to get close to the casino.
Airport –> Torrassa (L1) –> Urquinaona (L4) –> Vila Olimpica
Airport –> Collblanc (L5) –> Verdaguer (L4) –> Vila Olimpica
OVERGROUND: There’s also an overground train station, called Aeropurerto, on the city’s RENFE network. You’ll need to catch the R2 Nord train to and from the airport, which stops at Estació Sants, Passeig de Gràcia and El Clot, all in the centre of the city and with Metro stations. A ticket is €4.20. NOTE: Only the R2 Nord train goes to the airport. Confusingly, there’s also an R2 train, which doesn’t. Look for the Nord!
BUS: Many people arrange a bus transfer to and from Barcelona Airport. There are two options: a bus that drops passengers at designated drop-off points in the city, or a door-to-door service, which costs a little more. You can book both on the TouristActive website.
The Barcelona Tourist Guide website has heaps of useful transportation information.
UBER: There is no Uber service in Barcelona.
If you don’t like flying, there are a couple of other options to get to the city:
TRAIN: It’s possible to get to Barcelona by train, with direct services into the city from Madrid, Paris and Lyon, among others.
BUS: If bus travel is your thing, then Barcelona is reachable on direct services from plenty of places, including London and Amsterdam — both of which usually go via Paris. You’re looking at a journey of more than 24 hours, but it’s cheaper, more environmentally friendly and affords some decent views (especially if you enjoy French motorways). All of Eurolines, BlaBlaBus and Flixbus offer services, and a website like Omio is good to compare them all.
The two hotels most regularly used by players and staff at EPT Barcelona — and the ones where PokerStars qualifiers will stay — are both right on the doorstep of the tournament room.
The five-star Hotel Arts is one of Barcelona’s best hotels and, conveniently, the EPT festival takes place in its conference facility meaning it’s just an elevator ride away if you’re staying in the hotel. It’s a high end place, with terrific restaurants, patios, lounges and wellness facilities, and it’s possible to escape the hustle and bustle of the tournament should you need to.
The Pullman Barcelona Skipper is only a stone’s throw from the casino, and is a super convenient base for the EPT. It has a very good restaurant, a gym and two pools, one of which is on the roof and has wonderful views over the city.
The H10 Marina is a 10-15 minute walk away from the casino, and is another well-appointed, comfortable four-star hotel in excellent reach of the rest of the city. (The Bogatell metro stop is a block away.) This one in a tiny bit further from the beach than either the Arts or the Pullman, and that’s reflected in the price. Rooms here are more than €100 cheaper per night.
The entire Sant Marti district of Barcelona has numerous hotels, all of which are slightly better priced than anything further west and into the city centre. There’s a Hotel 4, a Holiday Inn Express, a Four Points by Sheraton, and a couple of Ibis hotels.
Food options in the EPT Barcelona tournament area have got a lot better in the past few years. There’s usually at least one hot sandwich and one pasta dish, as well as sushi, salad and other cold food for sale at the counter in the lobby. It’s usually quicker if you buy a few food tickets in advance.
Inside the casino, Ode serves a wide menu of Latin American food, while Chili Pepper adds some Asian dishes too. (These places are a lot less busy than you might expect, especially given the player numbers.)
There’s no disguising it, the restaurants immediately surrounding the casino are a mixed bag, particularly the seafood joints down by the marina. You can grab a quick snack at Delicamon, just outside the casino (beach side), which serves toasted sandwiches and salad, and all of Marina Bay, Marina Moncho’s and Touché should be able to deliver a plate of paella and the bill within 60 minutes.
Gino’s is a bog standard Italian (out the main entrance, across the road and up the escalator), and there’s also a Chinese and Mexican restaurant along the elevated walkway. They’re not going to be winning any awards, but the food fills a hole in a hurry. There’s also a Burger King and a McDonalds in the marina. Sometimes it’s better the devil you know.
A little further away, and along the beach towards the city centre, Arenal is a decent place right on the beach, while Barraca is good for seafood.
If, however, you are not pressed for time at all, then head into the centre of Barcelona where there are some of the very best restaurants in the world. Barcelona is a wonderful gastronome’s paradise, it’s just that not many real foodies will be heading to Port Olimpic.
NEED TO KNOW
You can find a few basic sundries at the small shop called La Rotonda Port Olimpic, just up the escalator over the ice cream parlour opposite the main casino entrance. You’ll need to cross over Av. del Litoral and Carrer de Salvador Espriu (the two streets that run parallel with the beach) to find some better supermarkets, though. There’s the Max Supermercat and Condis el teu Super, both on Av. d’Icària, and only a short walk away.
The closest pharmacy is also on Av. d’Icària about two blocks from the Hotel Arts. And if things get worse, Hospital del Mar is literally next door to the Pullman Hotel, a very short walk from the casino. (Just head towards the city down the beach promenade and it’s right there.)
Of course, the idea on your trip to Barcelona is to win the Main Event, and maybe the National championship too, meaning you’re going to be inside playing poker all day every day. But in the event that that doesn’t quite come to pass, you’ll maybe want something to do in the downtime.
You can also skip the lines at the Sagrada Familia with a Gaudi Pass or take a tour around Camp Nou. In previous years, the EPT Concierge has also been able to get Barcelona football tickets, so check the schedule.
The EPT Live crew will be back in Barcelona this year bringing you all the cards up action from the Main Event from Day 2 onwards. If you can’t wait that long, there’s tons of content available now from previous visits to Catalonia. Search the PokerStars YouTube channel for Barcelona and fill your boots.
If even that is too strenuous, here are a couple of highlights. The first is when Brazilian soccer star Neymar invited a few friends over for a home-game:
DID YOU KNOW?
Phil Ivey recorded his highest ever EPT finish in Barcelona, when he came second to Bjorn-Erik Glenne in 2006.
1. Three Sebastians have won the Barcelona Main Event. Name them.
2. Identify the EPT Barcelona Main Event winners by their professions:
c) warehouse worker
3. After the dinner break of the 2012 final table, won by Mikalai Pobal, what particular item of clothing were two of the three players wearing?
(Answers are at the bottom of this page)
PREVIOUS EPT BARCELONA RESULTS
|2018||€ 10,000||439||€4,258,300||Max Silver||UK||€600,924||Results|
|2017||€ 10,000||557||€5,402,900||Ronny Kaiser||Switzerland||€735,000||Results|
|2016||€ 10,000||591||€5,732,300||Connor Drinan||USA||€849,200||Results|
|2015||€ 10,000||506||€4,908,200||Mustapha Kanit||Italy||€738,759||Results|
|2014||€ 10,300||393||€3,851,400||Ihar Soika||Russia||€747,200||Results|
|2013||€ 10,000||180||€1,764,000||Thomas Muehloecker||Austria||€390,700||Results|
|2012||€ 10,000||111||€1,087,800||Laurent Polito||France||€270,229||Results|
SUPER HIGH ROLLER
1. Ruthenburg (2008), Malec (2016) and Sorensson (2017).
2. a) Jan Boubli; b) Piotr Nurzynski; c) Sebastian Sorensson
3. Spangly trilby hats