EPT Sochi: The complete need-to-know guide

All you need to know about the first European Poker Tour (EPT) stop of 2019.

PokerStars' flagship live tour first visited Russia in 2017 when Sochi appeared on the tournament calendar under the PokerStars Championship branding. What started as a 387-entry event swelled to 867 one year later for what was the first official European Poker Tour (EPT) Main Event in the country. The Main Event carries a 150 million ruble guarantee and has rapidly become one of the most prestigious titles to be won in the region. As ever, there is also a full calendar of side events and cash games to suit all bankrolls, as the festival in one of poker's boom regions continues to grow.

The tournament takes place in the opulent Casino Sochi, in the mountain ski resort of Krasnaya Polyana, about 45 minutes from Sochi itself. Surrounded by the Caucasus Mountains, the area was redeveloped, with the addition of numerous shops, bars and restaurants, for the 2012 World Cup skiing event and then the Winter Olympic Games of 2014. The casino -- and the tournament room -- is only a five-minute walk from the centre of the town, with the cable-car network leading to the main ski centres all within easy reach. Address: Casino Sochi, 51 Estonskaya Street, Estosadok, Sochi, Krasnodar region, Russia.

The opulent Casino Sochi


Festival dates: March 20-29, 2019

March 21-24 - EPT National
Buy-in: RUB 66,000 ($1,000 approx.)
Unlimited re-entries

March 24-29 EPT Main Event
Buy-in: RUB 191,800 ($2,900 approx.)
Single re-entry per starting flight
RUB 150 million guaranteed ($2.3 million approx)


The nearest major international airport is Sochi (AER). Several flights per day arrive from Moscow (including via Aeroflot, the Russian national carrier). Turkish Airlines also flies from Istanbul direct to Sochi. Taxi transfer from the airport takes around 45 minutes and can be booked via PokerStars Travel.

The casino is attached to the five-star Sochi Marriott Krasnaya Polyana Hotel and access to the gaming floors is possible without the need to go outside. Rooms can be booked via PokerStars Travel. Other five-star options include the Grand Hotel Polyana and Novotel Resort Krasnaya Polyana, both of which are a 10-15 minute drive away from the casino and can be booked through PokerStars.

The three-star Hotel Aibga and Hotel Anna are a very short walk from the tournament venue, while Olymp Hotel and Hotel Arcadia are also less than 10 minutes by foot.

Residents of many countries, including the United States, Canada, the UK, Germany, France and Spain need a visa to travel to Russia. Only residents from countries with a visa-free treaty can travel without additional documentation. Please visit PokerStars' dedicated visa support service to arrange your visa.

The obvious way to spend down-time in Sochi is to hit the slopes. The whole of Krasnaya Polyana is considered part of the Gorky Gorod ski resort, where the Lower City (at 540 metres above sea level) containing the casino, shopping malls and many bars and restaurants, is linked to the Upper Town via a chair lift from the main town square. There are more than 30 kilometres (about 18.5 miles) of slopes to suit all levels of experience, with lifts running in numerous directions only a short walk from the town centre. Even if you don't ski, take the cable car up to Gornyy Priyut and enjoy a hearty meal while enjoying exceptional views across the mountains and down on to the town. Alternatively, the Marriot Hotel has an excellent swimming pool (both indoor and out, weather permitting) and spa.

Hit the slopes in Krasnaya Polyana (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)


Shopping: The Gorky Gorod mall, about a 10-minute walk from the casino, has numerous shops and a supermarket in its basement to stock up on all necessary supplies. There are fast food restaurants, a bowling alley and a cinema too.

Food and drink: Casino Sochi has three restaurants: Brunello, Baffet and the Royal Bar. Meanwhile L'Olivo restaurant in the adjoining Marriot serves high quality Italian fare. There are any number of options in the nearby town, from the high-end Ogonok steak restaurant, to Harat's Irish Pub, a short staggering distance from the main event.

Pharmacy: Pharmacy Coral is located close to the main town square, opposite the chair-lift station.


March 2018: An optional single re-entry per flight (and three starting days) swelled the RUB 192,000 EPT Main Event field to 861 (inc. 321 re-entries). Arseniy Karmatskiy led the final table from start to finish to pick up RUB 27,300,000 ($474,938 approx). | FULL RESULTS

May 2017: Russia's finest turned out en masse for the first flagship PokerStars event in the country. Pavel Shirshikov denied Russia's best-known poker export Vladimir Troyanovskiy heads-up in the Pokerstars Championship Main Event. Shirshikov won 29.1 million rubles, which is more than US $500,000. | FULL RESULTS


Previous EPT/PokerStars Championship visits to Sochi:

YearEnd dateBuy-in (RUB)EntriesRe-entriesPrize-poolWinnerCountryPrize
2018Mar 29192,000861321150,000,000Arseniy KarmatskiyRussia27,300,000
2017May 31318,000387na150,000,000Pavel ShirshikovRussia29,100,000

Last year's champion Arseniy Karmatskiy


The ski-jump event at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games took place a mile away from Casino Sochi. It was the first time in Olympic history that both men and women took part in ski jumping. The jump is visible from the right side of the car as you drive into the Krasnaya Polyana from the airport.


Relive all the action from the PokerStars Championship Main Event final table:

And then follow it up with the EPT Sochi Main Event final from 2018:

PokerStars staff
@PokerStars in European Poker Tour