Yes, London. You know: fish, chips, cuppa tea, bad food, worse weather, Mary Poppins... LONDON! The PokerStars.com European Poker Tour has touched down in England and PL.com was right behind.
The first half of the field took their seats today on Day 1a, with their Day 1b counterparts forced to wait until tomorrow. For today, 178 players were due in the poker room of the Grosvenor Victoria Casino with the action supposedly getting underway at 1 p.m.
The scheduled start time came and went though with nary a card in the air and only a few players in their seats. Part of the delay certainly had to do with the almost unbelievably tight security here at the Vic Casino. Unlike Las Vegas where casinos have an unlimited number of entrances and do all they can to lure you inside with flashing lights, ringing bells and the ubiquitous free cocktail, the Vic is tucked away on a side street with very little in the way of fanfare announcing its presence.
The real difference though can be seen when you walk in the front door and are quickly asked to produce your casino membership. Although these stringent admittance regulations are apparently the norm in Europe, North Americans are nonetheless routinely shocked by them. Thirty minutes later PL.com had received said membership and began the long and winding road to the press room, aka an office in the back of the casino.
Getting lost a few times on the way we eventually arrived. Seeing tables packed with representatives from a plethora of different sites, all of whom had been given an equal chance to cover this event, brought on only one emotion - joy!
Unlike a few other tours and series of poker tournaments around the world which will remain nameless, although both names can be constructed by rearranging the words in the preceding clause, the Max Pescatori, Sebastian Ruthenberg, John Shipley, Alexander Stevic, Surinder Sunar, William Thorson, Thierry Van Den Berg, Ram Vaswani, Thomas Wahlroos and last but certainly not least Steve Zolotow, one of the pioneers of No-Limit Hold'em.
For all of these, and maybe one or two that we missed, you'll have to tune in tomorrow as we start all the way back at Level 1, with blinds of just $25/$50. With this kind of talent it's sure to be a bloodbath as the strong survive and the weak are left by the wayside. Not to worry, PL.com has your back and will keep you covered until we've arrived safely at a champion. Roll call is at 1 p.m. BST - don't be late.