Underground + On the Water: More than Poker at 888Live Tallinn

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Plenty of sights beyond poker.

Before the players at 888Live Tallin embarked on their main event journey today they literally embarked on a city tour and boat trip around the bay yesterday.

The day started around 9:15 am when all the participants gathered together in the lobby of the Swissotel.

Around 70 people showed up, which is more than the 25 who traveled with 888 to Tallinn, so “guided tour and boat trip” seemed to be an attractive option.

No Sex and No Future

Tallinn was founded in 1245 so the old Town is surrounded by a medieval fortress wall.

There’s a stretch about 300m long that you can visit and so we climb 20m up a narrow spiral staircase and end up in a small, barely lit room where a guy called Paul awaits us with some Estonian treats.

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Before we step out on the wall we feast on some dark bread, elk sausage and Garlic pesto finished by– inevitable in the North of Europe – local spirits made of wild berries.

The wall gives you a nice overview over both the Old Town on the inside and the New Town on the outside. One of the most prominent features is Virgu Hotel, built in 1972, when Estonia was still in the Soviet Union.

As the Russians didn’t have the technology to build such a place they brought in Finnish architects and workers, who then had to dress in Russian clothes so no one would notice.

The Estonians say the Russians wanted to spy on international guests so it was built of “micro-concrete," which is concrete with plenty of microphones in it. Estonian humor, here we go.

Another example? The Estonian language knows no future tense and doesn’t differentiate between masculine and feminine genders. So they like to call themselves “a people with no sex and no future."

The Old Town

The tour takes a quick break in the Peppersack restaurant in the center of the Old Town, where they serve pumpkin soup and pepper schnapps.

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Shots anyone?

If you’ve followed the stops closely you’ll notice that by 11 AM you’re already on your third shot. However, such is the North.

Next to it is the “Olde Hanse" where they only serve medieval food. That means no pasta, no potatoes but mostly rye, herbs and ground bear meet.

On the town square you’ll find the world’s oldest pharmacy, opened in 1422. One of the early medicines against depression you would have got there was Marzipan, which was invented during the Middle Ages somewhere on the Hanse trade lines between Tallinn and Lübeck, Germany.

In Germany, Lübeck is called the city of Marzipan to this day.

Legend has it that the town square of Tallinn also saw the first Christmas tree as they used to put up a large tree in the middle of it and then danced around it on the night of December 22 to celebrate the rebirth of nature after the longest night of the year.

However, nobody’s willing to bet that there haven’t been large trees anywhere else at the time.

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It's a start.

Wine in Estonia?

The Old Town trip ends at the top of the hill where you have the most beautiful view of the city and the Sea, and where you find Estonia’s first winery.

Wine in Estonia – seems to be impossible if you look at the climate. And, indeed, the first wine hasn’t even hit the market yet but is supposed to within the next two years. The producers at “Luscher & Mathiesen," originally a Swiss-Estonian co-production, are ambitious enough to give it a try.

For their first attempts they had the grapes sent to famous wine region Rioja in Spain to produce it there. The result resembles the earthy Spanish wine a lot, which might be owed to the wine being stored in old Spanish oak casks.

A little museum in the basement of the building brings you closer to the history of a company that spans a hundred years and two World Wars, expulsion and return, willpower and tenacity.

On the Sea

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The last chapter of our cultural excursion leads us on to the Bay of Tallinn, stretching out North and Northeast of the Estonian capital. The bus takes us to the port where a pretty sturdy and trustworthy coast liner named “Katharina” takes us on board.

For the next 90 minutes or so we’re cruising along the coast, passing large ocean liners, the big Baltic ferries going to Stockholm and St. Petersburg, over sunken ships, and all the way to the Olympic Village built for the games of 19xx, which is now all empty and forgotten.

In 1851 a humpback whale got lost in the currents and ended up in this bay. Estonian fishermen caught it and brought it to the town square for people to take a look at it for money. When it began to smell funny after about two weeks they found an ingenious way of getting rid of it – they sold it to Russia for 850 Golden rubels, equivalent to €100,000 today.

Selling rotten whale to Russia? The animosity between the two countries goes back a long way.

Main Event Kicks Off w/ $50,000 GTD

Players were treated to a different kind of meal, a three-course buffet that made most of them sit on the sun deck afterwards and doze away those last 30 minutes it took to get back to the harbour. Even the weather played along, and that’s not a given at all in this region of the world.

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Time for poker.

Plenty of new acquaintances have been made, too - Marius from Poland and Manta from Lithuania, Gerri and Tatjana from Austria, a couple of guys from Romania and Carlos, who came all the way from Canada for this event.

At around 4 PM the bus arrived back at the Swissotel. The group scatters fast as it’s time to rest. Tomorrow they’ll all be back at the poker tables to enjoy the only hobby they love even more than traveling – poker.

The main event will kick off at 3 PM local time (2PM CET) in the Olympic Casino. The buy-in is $550, with one re-entry, and the prize pool is a minimum of $50,000.

Check back here tomorrow to find out how this next 888Live event unfolds. Don’t have an 888poker account yet? Check our 888poker review for more info.

Find a photo essay from the day here.

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