Off the beaten path
I'm thrilled for the start of the new EPT season. They are my favorite events to play because not only is the competition top-notch, but the atmosphere and quality of service are unparalleled. I'm not just saying that because I work with PokerStars, but because I've played in many events all over the world. Everyone is so friendly on the EPT and the staff always does whatever they can to make you happy. They are always trying to improve and are constantly adding new services for players like the concierge. The concierge makes it easy for players to explore the cities on tour by recommending restaurants, booking accommodations, and organizing group excursions. I think this is especially good for qualifiers who may be unfamiliar with their surroundings. If a side trip is organized for them, they're going to get a much better overall experience than if they'd just stayed in the poker room all day and night.
When I'm in a new city, I like to get lost. It's fine to have a plan, but don't be afraid to deviate from it. Go to the museum at the top of your list, but give yourself some time afterward to explore. I like to ride the bus for a bit, then get off and rent a bike or a scooter and try to find my way back to the hotel when it suits me. I don't always know specifically what I want to see, but I want to experience the feel, look and atmosphere of the city. I want to see what the locals do and understand a little bit about what it's like to live there. I love checking out small restaurants, places where you might find someone playing the guitar out of nowhere in the middle of a pizzeria. It's those small streets, those old neighborhoods that really enrich your experience.
You cannot expect to win or go deep in every event you travel to. You hope to get it done in one event, but it won't happen all the time. So make sure you have a Plan B and know what you can enjoy after you bust out. If the weather is good, the easiest thing to do is to enjoy a nice meal outdoors. But if you have a lot of energy, make sure you take the time to get lost. The EPT has so many beautiful destinations. We're all there to play poker, but don't miss the opportunity to experience a new culture.
Marcel Luske is a member of Team PokerStars Pro