It's nearly April, and who would listen? Time indeed does fly especially if you are playing poker. 1st June sees the kick off at the Mecca of poker that is The World Series. They are preparing for 10,000 players, and will now be able to seat up to 3,000 players on any single day. There was talk of players not being accepted from online qualification in the States, but that must have been reformatted, or has it?
The politics is too complex for now, and politics is one reason why we all enjoy poker so much. When you play poker you think of nothing else but the game, it is as simple as that; playing poker is the ultimate escape; relaxation and stimulation in one simple package. Let's forget the new Wembley Stadium and the roar of the fans, in terms of hair raising on the back of your neck, nothing matches the sound of thousands of chips being riffled as you enter the WSOP playing arena, a cacophony of sound that is unique to an event of this size.
My present concern is how to get a seat at any WSOP event. What is for sure is that when the WSOP ventures out of the States for the very first time, they will sell the 750 seats available for the London showcase event in September 2007. In case you were asleep, the entry cost for the main event is a mere £10,000 plus whatever the registration fee. Love-a-Duck!, the fact that it is "Ten Large" in Her Majesty's Currency, makes it even more enticing. In case that is too much, you can always play the £5,000 Omaha, but the £2,500 H.O.R.S.E. is the one I will dream about.
If you haven't yet heard of a media email called 'PopBitch' get on the list. The site sends out a "celeb-bitch" style newsletter that is a cross between Private Eye and "The Poker Bastard". One comment last week referred to a man walking around with a dish of opium at Liz Hurley's most recent wedding. Impressive, eh? Poker is my opium, never tried the real thing, but I have often dreamt of clearing off to Nepal, maybe tasting a touch of Buddhism, whilst encapsulated in the midst of a dozen naked Oriental ladies. So the next best thing to me would be simply playing H.O.R.S.E in what will automatically become Europe's biggest poker game.
The wheels are in motion for the game's most powerful organisation to steamroller Europe. This strategy is the coup de grâce, nothing is more powerful in poker than Harrah's Entertainment, Inc., the WSOP machine. Now the fact that they are majority shareholders in London Clubs International is the icing on the cake.
I had to be the first to step foot into London's newest casino, The Casino at The Empire, which will be home to the Finals of The WSOP 2007 London Event. The casino is being built at the site of the old Empire Ballroom, Leicester Square; 55,000 square feet of "A Touch of Vegas" in the best situ possible. This is a very special site for me; I actually stood on stage in a sick black and white suit, surrounded by Playboy Bunny Girls presenting a show for Playboy TV!
We donned our hard hats and I began the tour with the lovely PR, Katrina and Andy Pyrah (ex-Matchroom) who is a consultant to LCI and WSOP. The casino is on two floors and will, without doubt, do justice to the £16,000,000 being spent on it. All the major construction work has been done and the venue is being prepared for fitting, but I just wanted to feel the "World's Biggest Game" before it had even arrived.
The poker room will accommodate around 80 persons and is upstairs away from those noisy casino roulette balls. It is close to "Mocha", the bespoke ice cream parlour, which will be handy, plus of course a mandatory Catwalk out onto Leicester Square. The casino has been designed by Paul Steelman who worked on The Mirage. So Kate, tell me more:
"The casino will be very "high end", but appealing to mid-market. There will be no membership fee."
Now let me translate that. LCI has created a fantastic poker scene at "The Sportsman" and the tournaments are always full, the cash fast and furious. LCI have learnt quickly on the poker side, but now they have a great new master in their partner. High end, mid market, there is a little bit more to that.
"The Casino" has a secret weapon of interest to any poker player, a tool that will drag any player in by virtue of its local clientele. Macau is close to Vegas or more in terms of turnover, and China Town is 100 metres from The Casino, so it's a chance to become a "poker oligarch". Not only is The Casino going to be a poker magnet by way of the WSOP, but also of most importance this may well launch cash games from Venus, if our Asian brothers take to the game. I have spent half my life in that area of London and apart from the tourists parading by, the streets are literally paved in cash-rich action seekers.
The Casino is billed in the PR as bringing A Touch of Vegas to London. For once, this is an underestimate, for it is likely to bring half of Vegas here for real. The power of the WSOP will finally allow for the opportunity for European Poker to be well and truly blasted into the public's face; the event will be Europe's Richest Prize with a potential £7,500,000 prize pool in the main event, with around £2,700,000 to the winner, sterling. The WSOP events, 6th to 16th September, will be played across Fifty, Sportsman and The Casino with the final of all events.
So the question remains, how do we get the dosh to play? There will be one online route to qualification and that online satellite supplier will be named next week. Now the good news is plenty of live satellites and super satellites starting in May at:
The Casino at The Empire
So who will win the first official Bracelet outside of the States? I felt a shiver as I typed those words; apart from the money, the kudos will be as valuable as winning the main event in Vegas. It is simply that big. So, back to Andy Pyrah, "Give me something new I can write?" I enquired.
"I have the one, we are going to introduce an English Tea Break at The WSOP in Vegas, with Beefeaters or James Bonds serving tea. Give the Americans a taster," said Andy as I cracked up, but it will work. Maybe we should send Jade, Jordan and Gordon Brown topless, which would be more fun.
After this huge event, we might well have enough "newbies" to fill the poker seats available at a casino near you. From September, poker might well be a viable source of revenue for casinos, with rake and no cap on entry fees permitted.
I could happily write a thesis on this event, if only I could write. Let us all be excited, very excited, as in my little world it is close to orgasmic. This step is going to open Europe up. I bow to Jeffrey Pollack, Harrah's, WSOP and LCI for pure business genius.
Let us not forget to take a look at the National Poker League. "The Loose Cannon Sports Bar and VC Players Lounge", which I assisted in launching, will become the British location for the NPL in August 2007. The club has such a fantastic friendly atmosphere it really deserves the opportunity to host such a big event. So I decided to sneak out on Friday and invest £10 in their Re-buy event, with $1,000 added by VC Poker. There I sat, playing a totally enjoyable game with all sorts, and then the shout comes across from Roy that the "Mrs" is on the phone. "All in!" I yell, with a pair of 8's left to battle, and off to answer the phone. My hand was beat and naturally I was not allowed to re-buy, but there you go. Just 50 metres away I spotted an interesting game.
"Dealers Choice", the very game itself that was played by Anthony Holden and his friends was being recreated, yet again. GQ magazine had originally featured a game with Tony and his friends. 17 years later, Dave Woods of Poker Player Magazine set up the very same game, of which all the players will write in the magazine on 10th May 2007. Like a paparazzi on the doorstep of Danielle Nice Breasts, there I was a gnat's breath away from another piece of history. Patrick Marber (Oscar Nominee), who created the stage play "Dealers Choice", with Martin Amis, Al Alvaraz, Tony Holden, and Cindy 'The Mole' Blake, playing a very, very serious game.
"Poker Artisans Playing the Salon Privee at Loose Cannon's", a scene worthy of a portrait. It was almost as if I was imposing on a private game with The Krays, such was the presence at this opulent table. Tony's book will be launched soon, if you want to know how it feels to live and eat poker, this will take you on that journey.
Finally, on Monday 26th March 2007, please come and try and get the bounty on my head in TalkSport Radio's Freeroll. 888.com is throwing out a $6,000 seat to the 888.com UK Poker Open. I will be speaking about poker with Ian Wright, which should be amusing.
Now let's see how we can all get to the WSOP this year.
Ed note: The WSOP is just one of the four major events you could be sponsored into when you join the Poker Pro for a Year poker league!