London beacon: Nick Wealthall
You can breath a sigh of relief; the summer is finally over. All that sunshine, hot weather is gone and at last all that pressure to be outside and 'enjoy the weather' is over. At last the nights are drawing in, it's getting colder and more miserable and we can all get back to what's really important; playing poker until our eyes bleed!
The best poker event in the world also happens at this time of year as the London poker festival. It's the best not only because it's located in the world's coolest city (this is unarguable fact) but also because it's the most convenient location in the world .... for me personally ... which is terrific. Seriously I can be from bed to card room in under 30 minutes. If you see me there you should think yourself lucky I'm fully clothed.
Over the last few years London has become a hub for poker to compare with anywhere in Europe. Some of the biggest events in the world have been staged here and with them the biggest names in poker have arrived to enjoy the cards, hospitality and of course the perfect climate for poker. However it's the grass roots poker scene that's really exploded in Britain's capital. There are several huge poker rooms with cash games and daily tournaments which are crammed daily. As someone who started playing poker many years ago, back when I had all my own hair, it's amazing to see how the game has grown here.
That grass roots growth has fueled the growth of the UKIPT and when coupled with the huge number of Poker Stars qualifiers that hit each top the tour just keeps going from strength to strength. As host of the tour and chief hand-er-out of light snacks and hearty good wishes to players (both are in the job spec) it's been really fun to watch it grow from season 1. It'll be a tall order to top the huge attendance for the last UKIPT in London but we'll give it a great shot and, as ever, it'll be one of the most coveted stops on tour for professional and recreational players to try and claim
The UKIPT is just part of the London Poker Festival which runs from 2nd October - 12th October and is made of 36 events over a huge range of buy ins. Last season the London EPT festival attracted 4000 tournament entries, across 29 events with over £11 million in prize money awarded so its kind of a big deal! With satellites running 24/7 on PokerStars it should be possible for you to take your shot and I hope I see you there; maybe across the table.
The festival's main event is the London EPT. The EPT rolling into town isn't just a juggernaut; in poker terms it's the biggest, fastest most bad ass juggernaut you've ever seen. Think that juggernaut in the Steven Spielberg film Duel except it wouldn't take 90 minutes to run a car off the road it would do it in...like...2 minutes and then go on to running way bigger things off the road like tanks. Now in season 10 it shows no signs of slowing down in fact it seems like it sets records at every stop!
As ever I will root for a local winner and there'll be a ton of British and Irish talent (yes I'm grabbing the whole of Britain and Ireland as 'local' to London) in the EPT field. Even though I'm told it's 7 years since "local gal" Victoria Coren became the first woman to win an EPT title it doesn't seem like 5 minutes ago. We're unlikely to get one as local as Vicky winning it in her regular casino but there's every chance of a British or Irish winner despite top players from across the globe arriving to compete.
I'm thrilled to see the UKIPT back in London with its big EPT brother. These events never get old because its always so obvious how much fun the players are having. What does get old is not personally cashing in UKIPT main events; oh sure I've won a couple of side events and I've always been the most attractive player at my table but that's just not enough anymore. So my policy of being a 'genial host' and generously giving away chips to make the players feel better (that's what I've been doing I swear) - is officially over.
Can't wait to see you at the festival; run good in whatever you play because that's the hard part.