The UK poker tournaments scene in 2021 is a veritable hive of activity. From online MTTs and satellites to live events, there’s literally something for everyone playing from the UK. In fact, that’s why Brits such as Stephen Chidwick, Sam Trickett, and Chris Moorman have become international poker stars over the last two decades. Even though they play for seven-figure prizes now, there was a time when they were grinding small stakes poker games.
One of the top strengths the UK has when it comes to poker tournaments is diversity. Grass roots grinders can build up their skills and bankrolls. Then, at the top of the tree, big UK poker tournaments such as the EPT, Genting Poker Series, and GUKPT offer something for seasoned players too. Basically, if you want easy access to great value poker events, no matter your bankroll, there are plenty of options. So, with this in mind, here are some of the best poker tournaments for UK players.
What are the best UK poker live tournaments? The answer will depend on your bankroll and preferences. However, to give you an idea of what’s been hot in the past and what continues to dominate the British tournament scene, here’s an overview of the top MTTs in the UK.
|Grosvenor UK Poker Tour, London||Grosvenor Casino, London||July 14-25, 2021|
|PokerStars London Series||Hippodrome Casino, London||August 6-8, 2021|
|Smaller Daily UK Tournaments||Victoria Casino, London|
Eltham Terrace Club
Casino at the Empire
|Daily Start times 16:00-21:00|
PokerStars has long been the leading name in poker. As a fully licensed entity in the UK, it naturally has a schedule designed for Brits. For starters, there are UK online poker tournaments on PokerStars.uk, including the Sunday Million, Sunday Storm, and the Mini Sunday Million.
However, as good as PokerStars’ online schedule is, it also leads the way in live events. EPT London has been among the biggest UK poker tournament festivals for more than a decade. Attracting the best players in the world, this event was part of the original European Poker Tour (EPT) line-up back in 2004. Since then it’s gone from strength to strength.
The host venue changes, but it’s often a fancy hotel in the central area that can accommodate thousands of players. As well as the main event, this tour features a variety of side events, including small stakes tourneys and high rollers. However, everyone wants to win the main event. England’s John Shipley won the first EPT London ME for £200,000 in 2004.
Since then, famous winners such as Victoria Coren Mitchell and Germany’s Benny Spindler have won prizes topping £750,000. Of course, to play the main event, you need to cover five-figure buy-in. Fortunately, PokerStars has plenty of satellites, so you can qualify for EPTs for less than £1.
*Note: The last EPT London (at the time of writing) took place in 2014. However, with the UK being a hot pick for poker operators, it’s likely the EPT will return to London in the future.
PokerStars UKIPT was built on the success of the EPT. With poker evolving and more people coming into the game, the tournament team at PokerStars HQ wanted to give more players a chance to ante-up. Seeing the success of small and mid-stakes tours such as the GUKPT, they created the UKIPT.
The aim was simple: provide an EPT-style experience for a fraction of the cost. The inaugural UKIPT season got underway in December 2009. Galway’s Radisson Hotel was the host venue and Irish pro Padraig Parkinson won the first ever €2,000 main event. The tour grew quickly as more stops in popular UK poker rooms filled the schedule.
From Nottingham’s Dusk Till Dawn to London’s Hippodrome Casino, all the top venues played host to this popular tour. The UKIPT ran for six seasons from 2009 until 2016 when it was replaced by PokerStars Live. This new catch-all tournament system meant all low and mid-stakes events were branded as PokerStars Live tournaments. So, while you won’t find UKIPT in any list of UK poker tournaments 2021, its spirit lives on in various PokerStars events.
Of all the high-level UK poker tournaments, Grosvenor’s is the most well-established. Indeed, long before PokerStars rolled into town with innovations such as the UKIPT, Grosvenor was using its network of card rooms to host events everyone wanted to win. You only have to look through the list of past champions to see this is the case.
Since the first ever GUKPT event in 2007, many of the best UK poker tournament players have triumphed on this tour. Sam Trickett, Paul Foltyn, and James Mitchell are just a few names who had breakout performances on the GUKPT.
Part of its allure is the fact you can play for a major UK poker title and six-figure prizes for a buy-in of just £1,500 (up from £1,100). Add to this a ton of poker freerolls on UK site Grosvenorpoker.com, and you can see why the GUKPT has been popular for so long.
In fact, even when COVID-19 shut down the world in 2020, the GUKPT continued online. As of 2021, there had been 15 seasons of action. and, given that it remains popular, we expect it to be a firm fixture on the UK poker tournaments schedule for many more years to come.
Hosting live tournaments in the UK is a competitive business. When one operator is gaining traction, others follow and that’s what Genting did in 2012. With one of its main competitors on the UK casino scene, Grosvenor, having success with the GUKPT, Genting created its own series.
However, in an effort to be a UK poker tour with a difference, Genting set the buy-in for its main events at £430. This move put it in a slightly different bracket than Grosvenor’s GUKPT. But, importantly, it offered a similar level of value. Although the top prizes in a GPS main event aren’t as lucrative as those offered by the GUKPT, they’re pretty good.
For example, the first ever winner, Ruslan Vlasov, turned £430 into £18,200. In 2019, Yiannis Liperis won the main event in Birmingham for £31,830. To ensure the GPS remains among the best UK poker tournaments, Genting has added different options in recent years. As well as dropping the buy-in to £225 for some main events, it also introduced the GPS Super 80 which costs just £80 to enter.
The global pandemic meant things had to change in 2020. GPS became one of the many UK poker online tournaments people could play. Genting hasn’t re-opened its card rooms yet which has called into question the status of the Genting Poker Series. It may continue as before or it may become an online series. Regardless, GPS is still a name to look out for on the UK poker tournament scene.
Not every poker tournament in the UK is aimed at pros. The amateur poker scene is one of the strongest in Europe, if not the world, and it’s thanks to APAT. Of course, it’s also worth mentioning that pub poker leagues have been hugely successful in the UK. In fact, many of them act as feeders for APAT.
So, what is APAT? This is a low-stakes UK poker tour that was founded in 2006. It’s designed to offer a pro-level experience for people that don’t play professionally. As such, the buy-in for APAT main events is £75.
As well as visiting live poker rooms in the UK, APAT has branched out in recent years. From the Czech Republic and Ireland to Belgium and Malta, you can now play affordable, high-quality amateur poker tournaments across Europe. And with everything shifting in 2020, APAT is also available online thanks to a partnership with partypoker.
You can find a long list of brick and mortar poker rooms in the UK on the web - but which ones are actually worth trying? Everyone has their favourite but we think the following live UK poker rooms are among the best in the country.
When someone thinks of a poker tournament in the UK”, Dusk Till Dawn is often the top pick. Built specifically for poker and owned by high stakes player Rob Yong, this venue is the UK’s finest when it comes to Hold’em, Omaha, and any other variant you can think of. In fact, other than King’s Casino Rozvadov, it’s one of the largest poker casinos in Europe.
This makes it the perfect destination for almost every major tournament series. From the EPT and UKIPT to the WPT and WSOP, Dusk Till Dawn has hosted them all. It also hosts events in conjunction with its partner, partypoker. These include things such as Millions and the partypoker Grand Prix.
Dusk Till Dawn also has its own roster of events. The DTD Grand Prix is one of its bigger festivals and includes tournaments costing up to £1,000. On a weekly basis, there are small stakes events starting at £50 and, every so often, APAT rolls into town. Basically, it doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie or a pro, Dusk Till Dawn will have a poker tournament to suit any UK player.
The top poker room in London may be the Vic. Those people could be right. Owned by Grosvenor and the home to various tournaments, including GUKPT London and the GUKPT Championship, the Vic certainly has a solid reputation. However, for convenience and accessibility, the Hippodrome edges it because it’s in Leicester Square.
This means it’s easy to get to from all major London train stations. Moreover, as well as people intending to visit the casino, there is a lot of passing traffic. In other words, a lot of casuals and tourists wander into the Hippodrome. This means there can be a lot of soft spots in cash games and tournaments. This isn’t the case at the Vic.
The other reason we’ve picked out the Hippodrome is because the poker room is run by PokerStars. Therefore, it’s not only home to any major events PokerStars decides to host in London, it also offers weekly tournaments. These include events such as the London Series, which features main events costing between £250 and £500. What’s neat about these events is that they fall under the PokerStars banner. Therefore, you can often find affordable qualifiers online.
Grosvenor Casino Blackpool has a place on our toplist of poker tournament rooms because it hosts the GUKPT. More importantly, it often attracts some of the immense main event crowds of the season. Why? Well, for starters, it’s one of the larger Grosvenor Casinos. It even has a DJ on the weekends because, as most UK players know, Blackpool is a party town.
This means the casino is often packed with local revellers and tourists. That’s a perfect combination when it comes to poker because an inexperienced player with a few drinks in their system definitely won’t be playing optimally.
As a general rule, these fishy players won’t be sitting down in the GUKPT Blackpool main event. However, they may well be splashing around in the weekly tournaments costing between £50 and £200. So, because it’s a GUKPT venue and in the middle of a party town, we love Grosvenor Blackpool.
Live UK poker tournaments are great, but don’t forget there’s a whole world of online options out there. The UK has one of the most buoyant online poker markets in the world and that means there’s plenty of MTT action. From free and low-stake tournaments to high rollers, the weekly picks is packed with potential.
Of course, this potential means nothing if it’s not easily accessible. You need a poker site licensed in the UK. Fortunately for you, the following platforms are all legal in the UK. Moreover, they all have time-friendly tournaments. In other words, the MTTs we’ve picked out all take place at an ideal time for Brits. So, if you’re looking for low stakes fun or high stakes titles, the following picks have some of the best online tournaments around.
GGPoker has become a dominant name on the UK poker online tournament scene in recent years. Helping to fuel interest in its MTT lineup is the Super Millions. This weekly $10,300 attracts the game’s elite. This, in turn, draws fans of poker to the site in much the same way Full Tilt’s high stakes cash games did back in the day.
GGPoker has actually capitalised on this by letting railbirds bet on the Super Millions. That’s created a whole new dynamic around the tournament and, moreover, given thousands of Brits a reason to use the site. Today, the UK poker tournament schedule at GG is packed with options. From £0.10c tourneys to the GGMasters, there’s something for everyone.
One final point to note is that GGPoker has become one of the top UK tournament sites thanks to its innovations. Flip & Go, for example, allows you to get through the early stages of an MTT and into the money in just a few minutes. You can also try N-Tournaments which give you multiple starting stacks that you can either use all at once or keep in reserve. These are all unique ideas and another reason GG has improved the poker tournament UK scene.
Bet365 is one of the most prominent brands in betting but you shouldn’t sleep on its poker site. As well as soft cash games, the tournament timetable is packed with potentially lucrative games. Freerolls are available on a weekly basis and, interestingly, you can play free monthly MTTs based on your VIP status. Basically, the higher your rank, the more lucrative the special tournament will be.
At the top of Bet365’s weekly poker tournament lineup are the majors, including the Main Sweat and the Sunday Sweat. These cost £200+ and boast guarantees topping £10,000. As well as standard MTTs, Bet365 Poker has some great SNGs. The top picks, in our opinion, are Twisters. These lottery-style SNGs cost as little as £0.50 and have random prizepools worth £100,000+.
Finally, just to make things even better, Bet365 Poker offers bubble protection for its Sunday majors. If you finish one place outside of the money in a featured Sunday MTT, you get to spin the Bubble Bonus Wheel and, potentially, win a prize.
888Poker has become a much bigger force in UK tournaments in recent years. As well as in-house innovations such as XL Blizzard, 888 has partnered with other companies to host international poker festivals.
Looking at the weekly tournament plan, 888Poker has everything from small stakes MTTs to SNGs and weekly majors such as the $100K Mega Deep and the $30K Whale. Building on this, tournament festivals such as the XL Blizzard have grown in popularity. The 2020 series boasted an impressive 34 events and a guarantee of almost $1.5 million,
888 has also become the home of big UK poker tournaments such as WPTDeepStacks Online. These tournaments not only come with major prizepools but the prestige of a WPT title. Finally, 888 UK, US, and international gave the poker tournament schedule a boost in 2015 when it launched its “Live” tour. Initially stopping in various cities across the UK, the mid-stakes tour now hosts 888Poker Live tournaments costing up to £1,700 in various European countries.
If you can’t find an MTT on PokerStars, you’re probably on the wrong client - because the Stars client is bursting. This operator has upwards of 26 different types of tournaments available at any one time. As well as offering standard MTTs, this site has tournaments with progressive bounty formats, fast-fold events, re-entry, and multi-stage MTTs. Finally, because PokerStars is the host of major events such as the EPT, you can qualify for a pro-level tournament for less than £0.10!
Unibet is the home of low-stakes, casual poker but that doesn’t mean it’s not serious about tournaments. The weekly lineup contains freezeouts, rebuys, satellites and bounty tournaments. Some of the highlights for UK poker tournament players are the Unibet Centroll (it costs just €0.01 to enter), the €10 Shooting Star Bounty and the €40,000 Super Moon.
As well as a great line-up of online MTTs, Unibet also runs a fantastic tour that often stops in the UK. Known as the Unibet Open, this tour has £1,100 main events that have been running since 2007. Unibet Open tournaments are also available online and you can qualify for less than £1.
Paddy Power is best-known as an online sportsbook but it has plenty of weekly MTTs for Brits. The Main Sunday Sweat tops the bill in terms of popularity and prizes. With a €60,000 guarantee, a €100 buy-in and plenty of satellites, this MTT always exceeds expectations. Below that, you’ve got many more guaranteed events, including the €12.5K Fists of Fury Rebuy.
For something a little more affordable, there are more than 50 tournaments costing €50 or less running at any one time. Paddy Power Poker also offers a daily selection of low-stakes, free tourneys and qualifiers. The latter is important because this operator has historical links to the Irish Poker Open. So, if you want to win your way to one of the biggest UK poker tournaments of the year, Paddy Power is the place to play.
Betfair is the sister site of Paddy Power. Therefore, the two have identical tournament schedules. That means you can play all of the MTTs we mentioned above as well as things like Twister SNGs which have random prizepools worth upwards of £100,000!
Ladbrokes Poker is somewhat unique in that it acts more as a feeder site than a standalone figure in the MTT world. It does have a solid itinerary that includes freerolls where you can win unique prizes such as sports bets. However, what really piqued our interests was its selection of satellites.
UK tournament poker players can use Ladbrokes as a stepping stone to major events. For example, take a look at its UK poker tournaments 2021 calendar and there were qualifiers for the WPT Online Championship. That series was taking place on partypoker, not Ladbrokes. This is something of a unique situation but it’s great if you’re a Brit looking for an easy way into top poker tournaments.
William Hill Poker has more than €5 million in guaranteed prize money up for grabs every month. Sunday is the best day of the week because Will Hill has over €250,000 in guarantees thanks to featured events such as the Big and the Grand. Alongside featured MTTs costing €100+, you can also play in low-cost majors (aka minors) such as the Core, the Freeze and the Sunday Lunch. These tournaments cost €5+ and feature prizepools that can top €10,000!
OK, so you now know that the UK poker tournament programme is packed with options. From big UK poker tournaments online to events taking place in live casinos across the country. There’s a constant stream of action. The final thing you need to know is how to play.
We can teach you the nuances of tournament poker in our strategy guides (linked below). What we can do, however, is highlight the main differences between cash games and tournaments so you’ve got a starting point from which to develop your own strategies.
Time Period: You have a set start time and you have to play until you’re eliminated/or win the whole thing.
More variance than cash games. You can be a great player and not win a tournament for long periods of time.
Bigger Short-term Payoffs: The increased variance is offset when you win because prizes are worth more than they buy-in so, for the winner, the payoff is more.
More choice in MTTs: Freezeouts are common - you enter and, once you lose your stack, you’re eliminated. However, there are also rebuys and re-entry events, bounties for those you eliminate, and qualifiers for larger events.
Flexibility: You can enter and exit cash games at will.
The payoff is immediate in a cash game. If you win a pot, it’s real money that you can bank instantly.
You don’t have to wait for a game to start or play for countless hours. You have much more control in a cash game.
Rewards: The amount you win will correlate with the stakes and the amount of money on the table. The payouts can be more consistent but, in a one-off scenario, tournaments are more lucrative.
Learn More about Tournament Strategy Here: