In late October I traveled to Baden, Austria for the 2012 Poker EM series. This year marked my 9th year in a row traveling to this fantastic spa town near Vienna. To be honest, I've never understood why this event isn't more popular.
Baden is located about 25km south of Vienna. It's close enough to be easily accessible by plane but far enough away that it doesn't feel urban. We have places like Baden in the Moscow region, but the problem is that when you want to go somewhere in Moscow, you have to be prepared to spend a lot of time in your car. Traffic in Moscow is terrible.
That's not the case in Baden. I love that place so much that it the Poker EM series is easily one of my favorite poker festivals of the year.
The series is held every year in Casinos Austria. It was an EPT stop for a few seasons in the early years of the EPT. In fact, in Season 2, the first year that the EPT came to Baden, Patrik Antonius won the Main Event for his first major tournament score, worth almost €300,000. We know how Patrik's career has gone from there.
For me, Baden is a great place to relax and have some fun. The hiking in the area is magnificent, and the whole town is built on hot springs. Usually I start my days in Baden with a walk in the forest. I follow that with a swim at one of the big swimming pool complexes, then end with a steam in a sauna or a soak in the hot springs. All of that helps clear my mind for a day at the tables.
I've used a lot of that quiet time to muddle over Open-Face Chinese Poker. What a great game with a great future. It's spreading like a virus between poker players right now. Everybody who tries it once doesn't want to play anything else (at least from a leisure point of view).
At EPT Sanremo, we played Open-Face every day at the Royal Hotel swimming pool, and some days in the hotel lobby. On the one hand, Open-Face is a mind game with a lot of strategy and calculation. On the other hand, it's an exciting action game that appeals to the inner gambler in most poker players.
In Baden, we couldn't play much Open-Face because we weren't able to play it at Casinos Austria. But I've already brought Open-Face back to Moscow and introduced it at the private game that I regularly play in. Everyone there loves the game just as much as I do.
Maybe one day I'll figure out why that's not true for Baden. Not that it bothers me too much. I like being able to go to a poker tournament that has a more relaxed vibe than most.