Pub poker league thrives in U.K.

The Nuts Poker League is thriving throughout the United Kingdom since Steve Bellis, the league's creator, won £65,000 on the BBC2's "Dragons' Den" to help fund the business. Since appearing on the show, the number of pubs in the league has doubled.

Bellis, from Wrexham, England, gave up his own business in the chemical industry to start the Nuts Poker League in November 2005. Initially it had about 50 pubs involved in cities mainly in North Wales.

He went on "Dragons' Den" asking the elite business entrepreneurs for £50,000 for a 20% stake in the company to help expand the league and take on self-employed agents to help run it. He ended up leaving with £15,000 more than what he asked for, a first for the show.

With the addition of more pubs the past few months, the league now includes venues in London, Liverpool, Manchester, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The number of players registered has also nearly doubled from 2,500 to more than 4,500.

The way the league works is that it sets up free Texas Hold'em tournaments in the participating pubs. The people play for points, with the top 25% of players from each pub then competing in a regional final to win prizes for charity.

The business makes its money from the pubs that participate in the league. They pay the Nuts Poker League between £2 and £3 per customer brought in for the poker tournament nights.

In September, new laws in the United Kingdom go into affect that will relax the gambling laws in the nation. Bellis said he believes the league will be boosted because the players will be allowed to place small bets on the games then.

Even with the change, the league will continue with a points system as well.

Bellis told local media in Wales that one other change he is hoping for is that the league will attract sponsorship this year in order to send a player to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.

For more information about the Nuts Poker League, visit

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