Norwegian family reunion

Here's something you might not know about Norway. While we are free to play online poker, live poker is actually illegal. Despite this hurdle, we still organize one of the best live tournament series in Europe--the Norwegian Championship. For me, it's the most fun week of poker in the entire year. The only catch is, because of the legal situation, we can't hold the Norwegian Championship in Norway. Although the government is considering a once-per-year exception to the law so it can be held in Oslo, for the past three years, the Norwegian Championship has made its home at a golf resort just outside of Dublin.

While a move to Oslo would be incredible for the growth of the Norwegian Championships, its Main Event is already one of the biggest tournaments in Europe. This year, it drew 1,263 players. The festival lasts eight days and has over 50 events with buy-ins ranging from €60 turbos to a €2,000 High Roller. The championship events require a Norwegian passport to register, but the cash games are open to everyone. The action is so sick that players from all over Europe will take the week off from work and fly in just to grind the cash games. This time we had 62 tables running at once--the most outside Las Vegas.

What makes the Norwegian Championships so unique is the atmosphere. No one is stressed out, no one is getting in fights, and no one cares about losing. This week isn't about having a huge ROI or making a big score, it's about meeting up with friends you haven't seen in a while and relaxing over cocktails in the hotel bars. I have a lot of poker friends who don't play big buy-in events like the EPTs but they'll be at the Norwegian Championships every single year. It's like a family reunion. Everyone is there to have fun and if they go home with anything at all in their pocket, they're happy with that.

I always play every event I possibly can at the Norwegian Championships and this time around was no different. I cashed in the €1,100 Heads-Up NLHE and the €500 LHE 6-max, but bubbled the H.O.R.S.E. However, unlike a WSOP or EPT event, this bubble stung a lot less because it's a nonstop party over there! I was way more focused on enjoying myself rather than putting up huge results.

Every year on the EPT it's the same. As spring approaches, people come up to me and ask, "You going to Dublin this year?" When I tell them I wouldn't miss it for anything, they always respond with a crazy tale of their own. These are players that have traveled all over the world, but they finally understand what I've known for years--there's nothing like the Norwegian Championship.

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Johnny Lodden is a member of Team PokerStars Pro

Johnny Lodden
@PokerStars in Johnny Lodden