EPT9 London: Just off Edgware Road

The European Poker Tour has been to London nine times now, not always at the Grosvenor Vic but never veering from the W2 postcode.

It may be that you've never swung by these parts, and swinging by is normally as much as anyone tries in this area. Anything other, such as "dropping by" or even "stopping by", usually involve traffic and an attempt to find your way back the way you came to a more recognizable part of London town. So let us remind you of our location.

As we've written before, Edgware Road is not exactly the prettiest part of town. Actually, we've never written that. Instead we've attempted to sell these parts, either from the Vic, or half a mile away north at the Hilton, as something like an urban paradise.

Without getting specific we praised it for its bustle (traffic), its vibrancy (the road rage hurled from both sides of the carriageway), its colour (the different fried chicken outlets), and its history (vast 1962 council built tower blocks).

Perhaps it's time we put aside that hyperbolic shambles and apologise for selling you a duff description. I'm sure it was a description of somewhere, just not here.

Tower Bridge, nowhere near Edgware Road

So allow us to present the real picture, complete with smudge marks, finger prints, police tape and sirens, and point you away from the congestion and diesel fumes, while at the same time directing you elsewhere, a short distance away, to more appealing distractions. After all, the 26 million people who visit London each year as tourists don't face the immigration queue at Heathrow to shop at "Gentleman Corner - All Sizes", or eat Lebanese cuisine. They come for something more guide-booky. There are no palaces on Edgware Road, no battles were fought with long bows and axes anywhere near here, no foreign prince was every kept prisoner in one of the residential towers and no open top bus never needed to drive here to prove it.

In order to put that right we'll be explaining this week how you can make the most of London as a player or EPT visitor, presenting you with a chance to escape the confines of The Vic and the players you grow weary of, having seen them every waking minute.

Today we tell you about the area just off Edgware Road; tomorrow, we'll take you a little further and the day after that further still. By next weekend you'll have an entire guide to the South East of England, the land of red buses, policemen in funny shaped helmets (they love it if you try to knock it off their heads), queuing, country lanes, vicarages, mountains green and dark satanic mills.

So what do you do if you're eliminated today, or need a half hour break? Here are your options for avoiding your fellow players.

To the south is Marble Arch (made of marble), which is essentially a glorified roundabout opposite speaker's corner, where people with an opinion stand on soap boxes to regale those watching (trapped waiting for a bus) with whatever's on their mind, until enough fruit is thrown at them to persuade them otherwise.

Beyond that is Hyde Park, home to the Serpentine (a large boating lake), Kensington Gardens, all of which covers a larger area than the entire country of Monaco. In the other direction is Oxford Street, one of the principle shopping streets in the west end of London, where no phone goes unlocked, no miniature red bus goes unsold, and no Selfridges sale goes unnoticed.

To the east lies Baker Street, and beyond that Regent's park. The former, 221B to be specific, is the fictional home of the world's greatest known detective, Sherlock Holmes, and his friend and associate Dr Watson. The latter is another of the royal parks of London and home to London Zoo.

To the north you're less than half a mile away from Lord cricket ground in St Johns Wood, the home of cricket, a game of beauty and refinement to the English, a game of bafflement and warm beer to everybody else.

All this should provide ample distraction for the player tired of Edgware Road. Failing that, should none of this sooth the unjust agony of elimination, to the West you'll find Paddington Station, with a direct rail link that will get you to the Heathrow Airport departure lounge of your choice in 15 minutes.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter