Fox Club big draw at Poker in the Park Invades London for the WSOP-E

The Fox Poker Club, set to open its doors in spring 2009 as Central London's first fully licensed and regulated poker club, is celebrating its impending arrival with an offer for a free month's membership this weekend at Poker in the Park.

The festival, held in the North and East quadrants of Leicester Square in London and sponsored by online poker site PKR, features all things poker and is free to the public. Chris North, Director of Fox Club, says Poker in the Park is the perfect venue for the public to get to know the club.

"Not only is it in the heart of London close to where we will be opening our club, (but) it attracts thousands of poker players, many of whom will be keen to get their first real life poker game, and that is what our free membership offer is all about."

Poker in the Park

With activities that appeal to both poker aficionados and newcomers to the game, Poker in the Park expects to draw some 25,000 visitors this year. The big draw is sure to be the free turbo 90-person sit-and-go tournaments featuring professional dealers that will run every hour.

The festival also features seminars with the likes of Big Deal author Anthony Holden, WPT and WSOP bracelet winner David Ulliott, 2008 Irish Open champ Neil Channing, European Ladies Championship winner Liv Boeree, and 2005 Pacific Poker Open winner Ian Frazer.

To round things out, visitors to Poker in the Park will be able to try out the new real-money Aces Royal poker game for mobile phones.

"Poker clubs, not casinos"

The Central London location for Fox Club has already been approved by the United Kingdom government and expects to open its doors next spring. Applications for additional licenses in Birmingham and Bournemouth are still pending approval; Fox Club expects to know by this November whether they will also be approved.

Despite having a government license to run a casino, according to the Fox Club's official Web site, it's all about the poker. To let poker players know, the club is offering a free month's membership to the public with no strings attached.

"Fox Poker Club aims to open clubs that are dedicated to poker and where the members have a large say in how the club runs," the Web site says.

"Our clubs will be poker clubs not casinos. We don't need your credit card or a commitment to join, we just want you to sign up and come and try our club when we open."

The good news for U.K. poker players who can't make it to Leicester Square this weekend is that the free membership offer is still good through August and September on the Fox Club Web site.

First steps outside the casino

Legal poker of the sort that Fox Poker Club will offer in London - that is, outside of casinos - is still in its infancy in the United Kingdom.

Early last year David Kelly was convicted of running the Gutshot Poker Club in London without a license. Authorities closed the club down, and its owner was assessed a £10,000 fine. Kelly appealed his conviction but the U.K. Crown Court upheld it in February.

Then in December of last year, after three years of bureaucratic wrangling with potential competitors over a license from the government, the Dusk Till Dawn club prevailed in its struggle and opened its doors in a renovated arcade in Nottingham.

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