Traveling to play a local championship
It has been another busy year of traveling again, with a big highlight so far being the Norwegian Championships in March. As far as playing went, I came in third in the heads-up event, although the rest didn't go so well. But it was still great fun and I wanted to share a little bit about it, since some may not be so familiar with the annual series.
This was the 11th year for the Norwegian Championships, and it has been growing every year with more and more participating. Because of laws regarding poker in Norway, we actually have to play the series elsewhere -- that is, in another country -- and so this year it was played in Dublin, Ireland.
The series gets moved around every two years. Before Dublin we were in Riga, Latvia for a couple of years, and before that it was in Nottingham, England. But wherever it is played, it is still the Norwegian Championships... that is, only players from Norway can participate. You actually have to have a Norwegian passport to play. And now it has become the biggest tournament series in Europe every year!
This year there were almost 1,200 runners in the Main Event in Dublin. I remember when it first started there were only like 40 players, then 90, then 150 and it just keeps growing and growing.
It's interesting, because a lot of the Norwegians who participate don't normally play in EPTs or other series. It's almost more of a party week than a poker week for a lot of people. We travel to wherever the tourney is being held, then play and drink and enjoy good company for a week.
It's funny, too, the way it works, with tons of Norwegians suddenly taking over a casino such as in Dublin this time. There was once this time when I believe there were 58 cash tables running at once, and the floor told us it was the second-biggest crowd they'd ever had there.
I remember when we had it at the Dusk Till Dawn in Nottingham back in 2008 and 2009. My friend who runs the Championships went there ahead of time and asked them if they were prepared for a bunch of crazy Norwegian guys coming and drinking. Most importantly, he wanted to make sure they were going to have enough booze!
They told him "Take it easy, we know what we're doing. We're English guys... we handle this every week." Then they ran out of beers on the very first night! They were like "Wow, we thought we had enough for a week!" So when we came back the next year they were much better prepared.
Not only have the Norwegian Championships grown in size, but the series has become especially well run, too. We hire dealers and staff from the EPT now, so the tourneys run smoothly and everyone always has fun. The atmosphere is great and while people are trying to win, they're also looking to have a good time, too.
Every year I look forward to it. In fact, it just ended and I'm already looking forward to next year!
Johnny Lodden is a member of Team PokerStars Pro