EPT London: Red buses and green chips

Less than a week ago the stars and the star-struck played in a casino beside a Barcelona beach in the first event of this European Poker Tour season. Now the pros, and the rest, who probably call themselves semi-pros, wake up to a sunny September day in London with the chance to compete for a £1.2 million prize pool.

Usually poker bloggers catch a plane to a faraway location, to enjoy a swish hotel, and perhaps a paddle in the sea before a night counting chips and consuming caffeine. It's a bit different for me this time, I live in London, so no airport to start my EPT adventure, just the local local tube station. I don't mind, I love poker and London too, and feel lucky that I can share my thoughts on these with you. My local tube station is special too, but perhaps you don't need to know about that? Can I just tell you about the time I was on the escalator and someone reraised and made me fold trips? Or was it that someone pushed past me and made me fall and trip? I don't know. My fault for having a head full of poker. That can be dangerous on escalators.

The magic of my local tube station...

If you're too busy playing poker you can see all the sites this way... (And if you're a busy poker blogger you can save yourself a trip around town with the camera.)

This EPT event is now sold out, the maximum 400 players have entered this £3,500 buy in event at the Victoria Casino.

The Victoria Casino, 'The Vic' to it's friends...

'The Vic' as London's poker people know it, is noted for its cash game scene of taciturn old boys who seem not to have left their chairs for the last decade or so. The same old faces, all day, all night, grumpy in a cash game when the new waitress doesn't know just how they like their cup of tea. The EPT's arrival in this world of traditional English poker misery is like a breath of fresh air. It feels like EPT excitement has blown the cobwebs off the old guys, quite literally forcing them out of their favourite seats, as new temporary chairs and tables pack the two floors of the casino. The old boys are now replaced by Swedish internet qualifiers with no intention of sitting there long enough to get dusty, they hope to play until close of play, but no doubt have laptops at the ready and Sit and Go's waiting if they go out in level 4. Many of these old guys will marvel that Frequent Player Points won players these seats, when their frequent play has only ever earned them a bad back and a failed marriage.

Like the chap in the top hat at the front door, there's something old fashioned about the Vic. It's a London institution, perhaps the poker equivalent of afternoon tea. A visitor might brave the formalities of the dress code, the regular's cosy familiar chat, and feel better for this very British poker experience. If they win they can celebrate with a cup of Lapsang Souchong, just a little milk, one lump, not two...

A London red bus

I've enjoyed playing at the Vic with many sullen old guys, who'll be unexpected smiles when someone makes a wry comment on the play of a hand. Their poker humour reminds me of a bright red London buses adding colour to grey Victorian shopping streets.

The EPT descends on London like a whole fleet of shiny red buses, bringing showbiz, and colour, big stars, big prizes, and hopefully some funny stories that I can share with you too. I'll bring you news of names and payouts when I have more information. I think the London EPT is going to be quite a ride. You don't need a bus ticket to enjoy it, you can follow all the action here, the timetable says the journey begins at 3pm.

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in