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WSOPC Tbilisi: Balcony of Europe, Beckoner of Big-Time Poker Stars
The locals call it the “Balcony of Europe."
In the future they might call it “the most Eastern province of Las Vegas."
The WSOP has expanded to the Near East and its first attempt at hosting a tournament series in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi has proven to be a very good idea.
The inaugural WSOP Circuit event here has attracted very large fields and big-name players so far, like online legend Dan "jungleman12" Cates and GPI no. 1 Steve O’Dwyer.
The Adjarabet.com Championship for example, a $330 buy-in NLHE event, attracted 729 players and generated a prize pool of $218,700 -- more than twice the $100k guarantee.
Urbanovich, O'Dwyer, Panka, Cates & Eastgate
By now the $1,100 main event is nearing the end of Day 1B and again the guarantee has been crushed. With 170 entries on Day 1A plus 190 by the last level of Day 1B, that means already more than the 300 players needed to meet it.
Registration is open until the start of Day 2 so the final numbers won't come in before tomorrow. But if you think there wouldn’t be any big-name players at a WSOP event so far off the beaten path of the regular poker circuit, you’d be wrong.
Poland’s wonder child Dzmitry Urbanovich is here as is the GPI’s number one Steve O’Dwyer. O'Dwyer has even turned a profit with a sixth-place finish in an Omaha side event for a little more than $1,000 – the smallest live cash he’s ever had, as he jokingly remarked.
Cates even got on one of the longest flights possible, from Los Angeles to Istanbul, to be here in Tbilisi. We’ve also found WPT winner Marcin Wydrowski, WSOP bracelet winner Vitaly Lunkin and PCA Champion Dominik Panka.
There's even a former WSOP main event champion whom you haven’t seen in a long time as Peter Eastgate is making a temporary comeback at the poker tables.
Highlights on the 8 O'Clock News
Almost every foreign player playing this WSOPC is visiting Georgia for the first time and there are players at the event who’ve come from as far as the West Coast of Canada.
O’Dwyer has even become a TV star for just being here and the Georgians are so enthusiastic about it that they report on it in the daily eight o’clock news.
Dominik Panka is a rare exception to the first-timer rule as he visited here last year, too.
“The people are generally very nice and the food is very good," he told us today. “But I’ve been told if you win a sizeable amount of money you should get personal security.”
Then again if you win the PCA main event, as Panka did, you should probably get that, too.
PokerListings will be on location in the Tbilisi National Sports Center (where the national basketball team normally plays) for the next couple of days where we'll talk to the international stars who’ve found their way here to play on “the balcony of Europe."