Milton Keynes, home of the roundabout, concrete cows and MK Dons FC is also the location of Poker Village. A unit on the far side of a business park doesn't sound like the ideal place for a poker tournament, but make the trip to MK and you'll be in for a pleasant surprise!
Milton Keynes often gets a rough ride in the press. Although I'm not a frequent visitor to this part of the United Kingdom I have been here before and always found it to be perfectly fine. Alright, the roundabouts might drive you around the bend (if you'll pardon the pun) but the rest of the city is pretty nice and generally clean.
Last Saturday saw the Spring Team Tournament take place at Poker Village. After driving around MK Two Business Centre for 5 minutes we eventually found the correct unit for the competition. The sight of Paul "ActionJack" Jackson standing outside of a venue is often a big hint that there may be poker close by!
After a couple of late arrivals the game started just after 2pm. Seven teams of seven players would fight it out into the late evening in this £50+£5 No Limit Hold'em Freezeout. Your writer was privileged to be part of "Team Sickness", captained by Jason "The Diceman" who'd made the long trip from Ipswich for this game. Other teams taking part were LIP (Ladies in Poker), Team Stanbridge, Team Shrimps, Team AKMK and Team UKPI (our good friends at UK Poker Info).
The game was based around a shootout format. The winner of the seven handed game would progress to the final and the player in second would move to the runners up table. Everybody picked up points, even the unlucky player to go out first would earn one point for his or her team. The team captains had £50 bounties on their heads. Should any captain win their heat then they won the bounty too. Tom from Team Shrimps was the only captain to pick up £50 as the other six were knocked out before the final.
At around 7pm both the final and runner up tables were ready. By some miracle I'd won my heat but managed to duck out in 6th (from 7) in the final.
Ladies in Poker, who used their charms to lure Paul Jackson into playing for them, ran out the winners of both the team and individual events. It must be said that Mr Jackson looked very fetching in his pink LIP polo shirt! However, the player of the tournament was Karen Stevens who was playing in only her second live event. A frighteningly aggressive display of poker from Mrs Stevens saw the competition cower in her wake and she rightfully claimed the AKMK individual trophy.
Poker Village contains seven poker tables, two of which are upstairs, and a spacious Internet "cafe" area. Doing the small things correctly makes a lot of difference to poker players and Poker Village is faultless in that respect. The chairs are comfortable and offer good support for lengthy playing sessions. The tables are excellent, with drink holders built in. The staff are friendly and when Michael and Martin, who ran the event on Saturday, are playing the game is wild, to say the least! Regular supplies of food are very welcome and a well stocked drinks area is essential. Again, Poker Village ticks those boxes.
As someone who has been lucky enough to play in card rooms around the world, I can say without any hesitation that venues like Poker Village are putting major casino chains to shame in terms of organisation, comfort, friendliness... pretty much everything really.
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