A visitor's guide to EPT Barcelona

ept-thumb-promo.jpgAt the tail end of the month, the European Poker Tour is headed to Barcelona for the second leg of Season 8. The pre-Roman city is one of only three EPT stops to have ridden the tour's calendar through all eight seasons, and it's been bumped back up to its rightful summer spot once again this year. It will be held at the Casino Barcelona (the Arts Hotel annex) from August 27 through September 1, and the buy-in is €5,000 + €300.

First things first, here's the schedule of events for the week.

Friday, August 26
2:00 PM | NL - One Rebuy Super Satellite to Main Event | €500 + €50
6:00 PM | NL - One Rebuy Super Satellite to Main Event | €500 + €50
9:00 PM | NL - Turbo | €300 + €30

Saturday, August 27
12:00 PM | Main Event Day 1A | €5,000 + €300
6:00 PM | NL - One Rebuy Super Satellite to Main Event | €500 + €50
9:00 PM | NL - Turbo Bounty | €300 + €100 + €30

Sunday, August 28
12:00 PM | Main Event Day 1B | €5,000 + €300
7:00 PM | NL - Turbo - Bounty | €1,000 + €1,000 + €100

Monday, August 29
12:00 PM | Main Event Day 2 - TV | €5,000 + €300
4:00 PM | NL - Holdem - Day 1 | €2,000 + €150
8:00 PM | PLO - One Rebuy - Day 1 | €1,000 + €100

Tuesday, August 30
12:00 PM | Main Event Day 3 - TV | €5,000 + €300
12:00 PM | NL - Turbo - Bounty | €500 + €500 + €50
12:00 PM | NL - Heads Up - 64/32/16 Player Cap - Day 1 | €3,000 + €200
1:00 PM | NL - Holdem - Final Day | €2,000 + €150
1:00 PM | PLO - One Rebuy - Final Day | €1,000 + €100
4:00 PM | NL - Holdem - Day 1 | €1,000 + €100
9:00 PM | NL - Turbo Bounty | €300 + €100 + €30

Wednesday, August 31
12:00 PM | Main Event Day 4 - TV | €5,000 + €300
12:00 PM | NL - Heads Up - 64/32/16 Player Cap - Final Day | €1,000 + €100
12:00 PM | NL - Holdem - Single Reload - Day 1 | €10,000 + €300
12:00 PM | NL - Holdem - Day 1 | €1,000 + €100
1:00 PM | NL - Holdem - Final Day | €1,000 + €100
2:00 PM | NL - Holdem - Ladies Only | €300 + €30
6:00 PM | PLO - Unlimited Rebuys - Day 1 | €500 + €50
9:00 PM | NL - Turbo Bounty | €300 + €100 + €30

Thursday, September 1
12:00 PM | Main Event Day 5 - Final Table - TV | €5,000 + €300
12:00 PM | NL - Holdem - Single Reload - Final Day | €10,000 + €300
12:00 PM | NL - Holdem - Final Day | €1,000 + €100
12:00 PM | PLO - Unlimited Rebuys - Final Day | €500 + €50
1:00 PM | NL - Holdem - Estrellas Poker Tour Special Event | €300 + €30
2:00 PM | NL - Turbo - "6 Max" | €5,000 + €200

Previous champions of the Main Event include Team PokerStars Pro Sebastian Ruthenberg, Carter Phillips, Sander Lylloff, Kent Lundmark, and Jan Boubli.

That's just about all you need to know regarding the tournament, but Barcelona has a bit more to offer than just card games. If you have a couple of extra days to spend wandering around outside -- or if you inexplicably bust on Day 1 -- read on to find out a bit more about what the city has to offer.

Vitals

Barcelona lies in the Catalonia region of Northeast Spain, and it's the second most populous city in the country, behind Madrid. There are just about 5 million people in the metropolitan area, making it the sixth biggest metro area in Europe. And it adds several million more tourists every year as well, sitting just behind Rome as the fourth-most visited city on the continent. They come to swim in the Mediterranean Sea, to catch a football match at Camp Nou (the largest stadium in Europe), to sample the distinguished local cuisine, or to sightsee and take pictures of some of the most historic monuments and buildings in the world.

Getting Around

Arrivals to Barcelona enter mostly from Barcelona Airport, El Prat. It's the largest airport on the Mediterranean coast, and it will land you just over 10 miles from the center of Barcelona proper. Once you get your bags off the belt, you'll be able to cab, train, or bus it straight into the city. The public transportation is reputedly very good in Barcelona with a wide-spanning bus and metro network (with a user-friendly website), as well as tram lines in the center of the city's activity and bikes for rent seemingly everywhere. Being the major international hub that it is, intra-continental travel is available all through Europe by rail and by air from Barcelona.

Staying Put

If you're coming to Barca for the tournament, PokerStars has already set up a few lodging options for you. The EPT event is being held at the Casino annex at the Hotel Arts, and that is the preferred spot to stay the night as well. Unfortunately, it appears to be booked full at the time of writing. Regardless, it's worth checking out the five-star accommodations upstairs just from the tournament room. It's a Ritz-Carlton property, and it comes with the essential amenities for every poker player: Property-wide Wi-Fi, 24-hour roomer service, pool, gym, sauna, and a full-service spa.

If you can't sweet talk your way into a room at the Hotel Arts, your other options aren't so bad, either. The Pullman Barcelona Skipper is just a stone's throw away from the Casino, and it has comparable amenities with free Wi-Fi to boot. Also within walking distance are the H10 Marino and the Hesperia Del Mar, and both properties feature free Wi-Fi as well as rates close to or less than €100 per night for a double room.

You can make your reservation directly through EPT Hotels.

arts_hotel_pokerstarsblog.JPG

Hotel Arts


Out and About

Once you get outside the walls of your hotel (or casino), Barcelona is a city of infinite possibilities. The local cuisine is world-renowned, and you'll want to make sure you try a good paella before you leave -- perhaps from the stalls and restaurants that line the port right near the Casino. If you're craving a taste of home, wherever that may be, you'll find a great international bounty throughout the city with the world's cuisine well represented.

In the Gothic Quarter district of the city (which is filled with gardens, oddly enough), you'll find the must-see monument of Barcelona, the Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family -- or the Sagrada Familia. It's the work of legendary Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi ,who was hit by a tram and killed on a day off in 1926. His crowning work is still unfinished, but it is both a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as a consecrated minor basilica, as proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI. Besides all that, it's stunningly gorgeous, and the area surrounding the church is ripe with shopping, dining, and worldly entertainment.

Also of note: National Geographic has recently listed Barcelona as the number one beach city in the world. Number one. Broadened nicely for the 1992 Olympic Games, The Barceloneta Beach is just over one kilometer long, and it's the best spot to stick your toes in the Med or loiter on your towel and scope out the scantily-clad, extremely tan Spanish sights. You should also be aware that law does not permit bikinis and bare chests permitted on the streets beyond the immediate beach area.

If music is your thing, then Barcelona is your city. The world-renowned Gran Teatre del Liceu hosts the nation's opera, and where there's opera, there's underground music. The alternative music scene in the city is enormous with top-notch live performances and near-monthly music festivals to tickle your eardrums. If you find yourself wandering through the Distrito de Les Corts, check out Bikini, a three-section music club that will give you enough quality and variety to keep your hips moving for the whole weekend.

Sports? FC Barcelona is a four-time UEFA Champions League champion and the achievers of the 2009 sextuple, the only men's club to achieve that feat. The city is also plentiful with basketball, handball, roller hockey, road running, tennis, auto racing, skateboarding, and biking activity -- your choice. And there's always plenty of poker, with cash games and sit-n-goes running daily at all buy-ins.

Eric Ramsey
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour