EPT Warsaw: Players descend on the Vistula

It’s the European Poker Tour’s third time in Warsaw but somehow this place always seems brand new. Maybe it’s the drop in temperature, maybe the warmth of the welcome or the fact that Euro notes don’t work this far east. Or perhaps it’s just because the EPT Warsaw produces something great each time. Away from the glare of the TV lights, it’s poker in its purest form, and it’ll fill the days nicely for the next week on the tour.

Descending from cruising altitude the view from the plane's window was of the landscape around the Polish capital; like a bucket of children’s Lego bricks had been scattered across a green carpet. On closer inspection this city is a mixture of stoic apartment blocks, the multicoloured glitter of the downtown lights, all surrounded by a quilt of rural patchwork.

On the way in from the airport we passed a sign saying the temperature was a mere 4 degrees - the traffic was close to boiling point. This is a city reborn from a twentieth century spent buried in the darker side of European history. Now it thrives, traffic an’ all, as one of the pulses of the new “old” Eastern Europe, and waits for curiosity to lead you here.

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The rebuilt "Old Town" in the centre of Warsaw

The same could be said for Casino Poland and its unique tournament room, unique because it’s dug two floors into the ground. You could walk around the Hyatt Hotel until security was called before you realised it was downstairs. Find it though and you’ve stumbled on a world of roulette, Polish beer and slot machines. Throw in one of Europe’s best poker tournaments and we've got ourselves a ball game.

Tomorrow Casino Poland plays host to the fourth leg of the EPT’s fifth season and will be warmed up by the likes of Team PokerStars Pros Gavin Griffin, Dario Minieri, Katja Thater, who final tabled here two seasons ago, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Alex Kravchenko, Isabelle Mercier, William Thorson and Luca Pagano.

A few others are making their way to this side of the river Vistula. Poland will be ably represented by faces familiar to anyone who calls this country home, with TV presenter Maciej Dowbor playing on day 1a with the intention of accompanying Polish Team PokerStars Pro Marcin Horecki to the final table.

Great Scott, that’s Kara Scott of EPT Live fame, also plays; looking to make it two EPT cashes in a row following her expert survival job in Budapest. Another face from two weeks ago is here, a wealthy one in EPT Budapest winner William Fry looking to make it two in a row.

The Royal Palace

That’s all a few hours away. Outside is a city of a few million people putting a lid on the working week and bracing themselves for the weekend. While they do that the poker tourists are plugging themselves into Friday night and taking in the sights like the rebuilt old town, the Royal Castle or maybe checking the view from Mokotow Fields, all before dawn breaks on the third Polish Open. Or, more likely, they’re in a cash game.

Check back with the PokerStars blog for updates throughout the week, including video blogs, chip counts, all the news and to see if this year’s EPT Warsaw is as good as the last. We're looking forward to seeing how this all turns out.

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in European Poker Tour