Travel Guide: UKIPT Dublin

ukiptthumb.JPGLess than a week from now, the UKIPT is heading back to Dublin, Ireland, for the last preliminary stop on the Season 2 circuit. This year's UKIPT Dublin Main Event runs from September 8 through 12 at the Ballsbridge Inn, and the buy-in is the same €500+€60 as last year. It carries a guaranteed prize pool of £250,000, and they'll be able to fit up to 700 players into the two starting days.

Here's the complete schedule of events for the week.

Max Silver figures to be in attendance to defend his title after slashing the field to pieces last year. Silver won that inaugural event in Dublin, good for €72,000 and his first five-figure score. His second came less than a month later when he took down the £1,500 No-Limit Hold'em side event at EPT London.

Unfortunately, not all of you will be as skilled or as lucky as Silver, and you may find yourself wandering the streets of Dublin a couple of days earlier than you'd have preferred. In some tournament stops, that's a recipe for loneliness and boredom, but Dublin has plenty to offer once you venture outside of the casino. What follows is a quick visitor's guide to the city. You'll do well to check out some of its more notable sights if you have some free time.

Vitals

As the capital city of Ireland, Dublin and the surrounding metro area is home to nearly 2 million full-time residents. The city lies along the Irish Sea on the east coast of the country, and it seems comfortable in its role as the historical, cultural, and economic center of the island's vibrant culture. Dublin is more than five times more populous than Cork, Ireland's second-largest city and the seat of another UKIPT stop the last two years running.

The capital was originally settled by the Vikings in the 9th century, and it enjoyed generations of prosperity as a center for trade and commerce in the medieval ages. Over the last 100 years, it's grown into its place as one of the top 30 cities in the world, though it's only in the last 10 to 20 years that Dublin has really begun to enjoy private, prolific economic expansion.

Getting Around

Arrivals into Dublin come mostly into the aptly named Dublin Airport, located in the northern outskirts of the city. As the largest airport in Ireland, it serves as the island's international hub with flights available all over Europe as well as to and from North America and the Middle East.

Once you get yourself into the city center, getting around is fairly easy thanks to the relatively efficient public transportation network. DublinBus operates a sprawling network of bus lines, and the Dublin Suburban Rail and the Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) will get you anywhere you need to go in the city by train.

If you need to burn off some of those 3 a.m. room service calories, Dublin has another, more active option to fill your transportation needs as well. Its version of the public biking system, Dublinbikes has terminals located throughout the city center, and a three-day rental ticket is just €2.

Staying Put

If you're still in need of accommodations during your stay in Dublin, UKIPT Hotels has provided a couple options. The host venue, the Ballsbridge Inn still has rooms available for every night except September 9, and it will likely be your first choice out of convenience. The property features reasonably priced Wi-Fi, a daily breakfast in the Garden Room, and a traditional Irish pub with live music four nights a week.

If you don't want to deal with the September 9 inconvenience, or if you're looking for somewhere with a bit more Irish charm, have a stay at Bewley's Hotel, also in Ballsbridge. The 19th-century building was originally built as a Masonic School, and its spacious stone features make it a favorite among tourists and residents alike. It'll take you 10 to 15 minutes to walk home from the tournament, but you'll be rewarded for your troubles since the four-star property features free Wi-Fi, room service, a tea maker, a trouser press, and a few different dining options.

You can book your hotels directly through UKIPT Hotels, and they'll even be happy to help you make alternate accommodations if you drop them a line at info@ukipthotels.com.

Out and About

Once you venture out into Dublin, the bad beat you took earlier in the day will dribble out of your mind like Guinness from a cold, metal tap. Speaking of which, we probably don't have to do too much prodding to talk you into a pint of Ireland's biggest liquid export. The city owes much of its current prosperity to the malted brew, and its been running through the hoses of Ireland's pubs since 1759. Probably the best place to get your upper lip covered in foam is at the Guinness Storehouse right in the city center. There you can take a tour of the brewing and packaging process, grab a souvenir T-shirt, and take a photo standing inside their seven-story tall pint glass, the largest one in the world. For a pint of your own, head up to the top of the building where the Gravity Bar will allow to you enjoy the house beverage with some incredible panoramic views on the side.

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If it's your first time in the country, the sights of Ireland are probably a lot like you'd imagine. Just like it appears in the coffee-table books, Ireland is greener than any other European country with nearly 4,000 acres of parks. The 1,750-acre Phoenix Park is one of the largest walled parks on the continent, and the city council of Dublin plants more than 5,000 trees a year to ensure the city's green tint remains in place for generations to come.

Apart from the trees, Dublin shows off its ancient history proudly, and stone masons will have plenty of sights to keep their eyes interested. One of the oldest and most well-known is Dublin Castle, the seat of English power and the hiding place for the King's treasure in Ireland in 1204. Other sights worth checking out include the historic Mansion House, the Gaiety Theatre, the Chester Beatty Library, and the new Spire of Dublin, a lighted spire that was erected to mark Dubin's place in the 21st century.

You'll also want to save a couple of evenings for Temple Bar, the center of Dublin's arts and music scene. Many of the locals consider the area more of a stereotype than a true taste of Irish culture, but it's there that you'll find the pubs, clubs, cinemas, and entertainment that will keep you busy all week.

In addition, you'll only be about 1km from Grafton Street, Dublin's principal shopping district. Pegged as one of the most expensive shopping cities in the world, you'll find everything your heart desires as you walk the long and colorful corridor of shops and cafés. Grafton Street is also home turf for many notable buskers including the guitar duo of Rodrigo y Gabriela and the now-famous Damien Rice. You might run across other non-musical street performers as well, including poets, mimes, and magicians. Drop a tip in the bucket and pose for a photo if you'd like; just remember to save yourself enough for one more Guinness on the way out of town!

Eric Ramsey
@PokerStars in UKIPT