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Cash Game Festival Prop Bet Loser Janar Kokk's Trip to Poland Goes Viral

  • Jason GlatzerJason Glatzer
Janar Kokk
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  • Janar Kokk turning Cash Game Festival prop bet loss punishment in Poland into a reward.

The next Cash Game Festival is just around the corner taking place at Casino Malta by Olympic Casino from June 14-18.

Previous Cash Game Festivals have provided tons of fun and excitement both on and off the felt. Anything can happen including wild prop bets including one where the loser appears to have turned the tables and made the best of a situation to become a winner.

Martin "Franke" von Zweigbergk & Janar Kokk
Martin "Franke" von Zweigbergk and Janar Kokk

Last summer, during the Cash Game Festival in Sunny Beach, Bulgaria, Cash Game Festival co-founder Martin "Franke" von Zweigbergk and recreational Estonian poker player Janar Kokk agreed to a heads-up prop bet where the loser would have to go to a country of the winners choice for a year. You can read more about that prop bet here, but in a nutshell, there were some stipulations involved.

Kokk lost the bet and initially was excited that von Zweigbergk chose for him to live in Italy. However, circumstances changed for Kokk and he no longer wanted to live somewhere for a year. He instead chose an opt-out for von Zweibergk to choose a village or town in the European Union that has at least 10,000 inhabitants for him to live in for a month.

Von Zweigbergk was happy enough with the change but wanted to "punish" Kokk for opting out and choose a place much less desirable than Italy. He decided he wanted input from the PokerNews community and with their help and others chose the to send his opponent to the Polish town of Hrubieszów, located on the Ukrainian border as a "punishment."

PokerNews wrote about how von Zweigbergk came up with the decision, a story that became viral in Poland as the town wanted to prove that this was not a punishment but a reward instead. Not only did Polish poker outlets pick up the story, but mainstream media including many of the major television networks in Poland picked up on the story. The story also got the attention of the mayor and others in the town.

At this point, Kokk knew the trip would be like none other. He arrived on Friday, June 2 with his wife Elora Kask to begin his month-long adventure.

"We arrived Friday evening and being completely honest, we were blown away by how nice everybody was and the sort of welcome we received," Kokk said to PokerNews in an exclusive interview. "We were quite excited and a little bit anxious coming here as we really didn't know what to expect, having kept our research to a minimum to be able to keep an open mind. When we first arrived though, we were very positively surprised. The first impression was that the town is much larger and nicer than we thought based on what we have read from media until then. Also, the people were all extremely nice and friendly, which I think is absolutely awesome."

We asked Kokk how his first week in Hrubieszów was going.

"All in all it's been great!" said Kokk. "The attention we've gotten from mainstream media has been surreal and it almost feels like I've spent the majority of the week in front of cameras and talking with journalists, but it's been an amazing experience and luckily we've managed to see a little, meet a few people and have some Polish beer in between media appointments."

PokerNews learned that Kokk's adventure will include a local charity tournament on June 10. We asked Kokk how this came about and a bit more about the tournament. Kokk also set-up a Facebook page linked here with information about the event.

"The idea for a poker tournament came already before we arrived, as I wanted to gather together the poker community here and do something that's a little bigger than usual," said Kokk. "Then, after teaming up with a few local poker enthusiasts, we decided to make this a low buy-in charity event, where all the tournament proceeds will go to a charity called Fundacja Zmieniamy Życie, which helps orphan children in Eastern Poland. There will still be awesome prizes for the final table by sponsors, though!"

"The tournament will take place at Hotel Jagiello in Hrubieszow on Saturday, June 10 and registration starts at 2:15 p.m." Kokk continued. "Buy-in is affordable 50 Zl (approx. £10/€12) and everybody is welcome to participate! It will be a great event and we're expecting players from all over Poland, as well as several from abroad."

Cash Game Festival Gibraltar Pool Party
Monika Zukowicz at the Cash Game Festival Gibraltar Pool Party

Cash Game Festival regulars learned about Kokk's adventures and the tournament he set up. Many are planning to come from outside of Poland. However, Betsafe Ambassador Monika Zukowicz, who met Kokk during the Cash Game Festival Gibraltar in May, volunteered to help with the tournament including acting as a host.

"I'm super happy that the host of the event will be Monika Zukowicz or "HeyMonia" as most of the Polish poker community knows her," shared Kokk. "She's been a huge help organizing the tournament, and will be an awesome host for it!"

Zukowicz is equally as "happy" as Kokk to be involved in the tournament. She believes it will help the game to gain acceptance in her country.

"I am so happy that I can actively support this event by helping to organize it," shared Zukowicz. "I hope the events like this will change the negative impression of poker here in Poland. Can't wait for Saturday!"

While Zukowicz has been helpful, there have been many other key people that volunteered their assistance with organizing the tournament. Getting the tournament off the ground in such a short time has been a challenge. However, it was one that Kokk was up for.

"In all honesty, the idea itself was only finalized less than a week ago or exactly one week before the scheduled event date," said Kokk. "At first it seemed almost a 'Mission Impossible', but I was confident that we can pull it off. Now with just a short time left, we're actually ahead of the schedule and have everything prepared."

"It was quite a challenge, considering that there are no dealers, poker tables or anything else that's required for a tournament in Hrubieszow, and most of this needs to be sourced from elsewhere," Kokk continued. "For example, some of our tables will be hauled in from Krakow, which is a city 350 kilometers away! But I couldn't have done it without the awesome team behind it, who have been super efficient and helpful. If you come, you'll get a chance to meet and greet everyone during the tournament on Saturday!"

Kokk will still have three weeks more to spend in Hrubieszów without being allowed to leave the borders of the town. The Estonian is known by his friends and others by never staying in one place for too long and is always globe-trotting. With that in mind, we asked Kokk if he would get bored staying in a town, regardless of how nice it might be, for an entire month.

"We definitely won't get bored here," Kokk said. "If anything, we will run out of time to do everything we want to do! With all of the media hype, meeting up with people from and around here, and an extensive list of events and cultural attractions that the mayor was kind enough to invite us to, we'll have plenty on our plate to keep us busy! In addition, as I work online, I'm still going to be living a fairly normal 9-5 life, regardless of whether I'm back at home, in Spain or in Hrubieszow."

Cash Game Festival Malta Set to Be a Huge Success

Prop bets are just a small part of what makes the Cash Game Festival fun for everyone that attends. This year, the Cash Game Festival has made successful stops in London, Slovenia, Tallinn, and Gibraltar.

Cash Game Festival Prop Bet Loser Janar Kokk's Trip to Poland Goes Viral 101

Next up is the Cash Game Festival Malta at Olympic Casino from June 14-18. As has been the case at every Cash Game Festival, ring games across any poker variant you can think of or make up will be on tap to play for more than 120 straight hours.

Players will also have the opportunity to be on the televised feature table hosted twice a day by Brandon Allen and guest hosts. This provides a unique opportunity to have family and friends witness you in action and for you to be able to look at your own game after the session yourself.

As we already mentioned, the Cash Game Festival is about having fun both on and off the poker tables. Many fun activities away from the felt will be planned with at least one taking place every day during the festival. We can't promise that there will be any crazy prop bets arising such as the one Janar Kokk and Martin "Franke" von Zweigbergk agreed to, but each festival has its own level of craziness.

Of course, if you prefer to just focus on poker, there will be plenty of that in Malta.

Head to the Cash Game Festival website for more information about the festival and to register for the TV and side tables.

*Images courtesy of Cash Game Festival.

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