It’s summer. It’s hot. The outside is calling. But deep within you can still feel the poker itch. Ever since you developed a love for cash games and tournaments back in the dark days of winter, that persistent hankering won’t go away, even though the sun now shines.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that poker can’t also be a summer pursuit. In fact, plenty of poker games go on during the summer months, and some of the world’s most prestigious poker series take place when the days are warmest. Here’s a quick look at how to stay playing while spending your time away from the tables soaking up the vitamin D.
PokerStars Mobile Client
Everywhere, all the time
Actually, before we even look at poker tournament series that take place in summer destinations, let’s not forget the best way of all to play poker while also catching some rays. The PokerStars Mobile client is available on iOS and Android and brings all the functionality and range of games to your phone.
It means that you can be on the beach, in the garden, on the terrace or even bobbing along the river in a boat and also playing a full range of tournaments, sit n goes, Spin & Gos or cash games at the same time. You can also just practice poker, playing for nothing more than play money. Just be careful not to drip ice cream on to the screen.
Casino Barcelona, Spain
August 20-September 1, 2019
Pretty much every year for the past decade and a half, the entire poker world has headed to Catalonia in late August for one of the most popular stops on the calendar: EPT Barcelona. This is the only location that has featured on every season of the European Poker Tour, as well as during its one year hiatus, when the PokerStars Championship also came to the same venue.
It’s very easy to see the attraction. Casino Barcelona, the host venue for the event, is in Barcelona’s Port Olympique region, a matter of yards from Platja del Somorrostro, which is one of the city’s many municipal beaches. One can go from hotel to casino to ice-cream parlour to beach to ocean in minutes, in whichever order one chooses.
Barcelona is one of the world’s premier tourist destinations, combining exceptional food and nightlife with centuries of history. It is a thriving metropolis at the centre of a region of outstanding natural beauty, with numerous sleepy Spanish villages also within striking distance.
The poker schedule is also second to none, with tournament satellites at the casino starting at €150, and the ever-popular EPT Cup costing €550 to enter. Should your budget be slightly higher, you might be tempted by the €100,000 Super High Roller.
It’s not too late to make it to the 2019 renewal. Head to PokerStars Travel to get your hotel sorted.
The World Series of Poker (WSOP)
Rio Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, USA
Among the many, many things that don’t make sense about Las Vegas is the fact that this is a city built in the middle of the desert — specifically the Mojave Desert, where the average summer high is around 100°F (37°C). Not far away is Death Valley, officially the hottest place in North America, where researchers logged a temperature of 134°F (57°C) in July 1913, and set a record for the highest air temperature ever recorded on Earth.
The World Series of Poker (WSOP) swings into Las Vegas every June and July — i.e. during the hottest season in one of the hottest places on the planet. If you’re not at the tables, suffice to say the opportunities for topping up the sun-tan (read: turning skin from the colour of milk to the colour of strawberry milkshake) are plentiful. Almost all hotels and condo buildings have outdoor swimming pools, many of which also host hedonistic pool parties. So you can bathe in both cool water while swilling cool cocktails all day long. (Just be sure to drink plenty of water too.)
Geography would have you believe that there’s not much chance for beach action in Las Vegas, given the fact that the closest ocean, the Pacific, is a 275-mile drive away. But impossible is nothing here, and no fewer than four hotels have beaches. The best known is probably the Mandalay Bay Beach, whose pools also have waves. But there’s also VooDoo Beach at the Rio Hotel & Casino, which is also home to the WSOP. So it is possible to traipse sand to the WSOP tables if you want. (The other beaches are at the HRH Beach Club, at the Hard Rock, and Tao Beach at the Venetian.)
Of course, your trip to Las Vegas will be mainly about poker, and you never need to look very far during WSOP time for a major tournament or high-stakes cash game. In addition to the bracelet events, of which there are up to nine per day in play, there are tournament series running concurrently at the Venetian, the Aria and Bellagio, and poker rooms all the way down the Strip, as well as off-Strip properties such as the Orleans and the Rio itself. Ironically, the one thing you absolutely must pack when you head to the WSOP is a sweater or a hoody. You’ll roast the minute you set foot outside, but the air conditioning inside Las Vegas convention centres is as efficient as your average refrigerator. It’s perishing indoors, so be well prepared.
Crown Casino, Melbourne, Australia
January 4-24, 2020
Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia, has been hosting the Aussie Millions every year since 1998, making this tournament series older even than the European Poker Tour. Back in the earliest days, it was limit hold’em, for a buy-in of $1,000, and attracted 74 players. But like the rest of the poker world, things have moved on since then.
These days, the Aussie Millions is often inked into the diary as a first priority — not least because it takes place in January when the northern hemisphere shivers. At that point, Melbourne is enjoying the height of summer, and the Australian Open tennis tournament is usually going on at precisely the same time. (Many of the tennis pros often stay at the Crown at the time of the poker.)
Melbourne regularly features prominently on lists of must-visit southern hemisphere cities, famed for its variety of beaches, its stunning bars and restaurants, and its peerless coffee-shop culture. It is also renowned as the most friendly city in the world.
As for the poker? Well, the AU$10,000 Main Event (around $7,000) regularly pays its top two more than AU$1 million, and recent winners include Bryn Kenney, Toby Lewis and Ari Angel. There are usually more than 700 runners too. If that’s not big enough, the origins of the Super High Roller scene can be traced to the Aussie Millions too, and its AU$100,000 event started in 2006. Since, 2011, the AU$250,000 buy-in tournament has been a fixture too and has been won by Phil Ivey three times.
Triton Series London
Park Lane Hilton, London, UK
July 31 – August 8, 2019
Ordinarily, you would never think to include anything hosted in London in a round-up of events recommended for summer weather — even if that event takes place in August. But the British capital is basking/melting in record-setting temperatures at the moment, just in time for the latest Triton event to arrive in town.
This isn’t just any old event either. Triton is the Asia-based brand that caters solely to the super high roller end of the poker spectrum, with the equivalent of $25,000 the absolute minimum you’ll need to sit down in the smallest tournaments. The centrepiece of the London festival costs 42 times that amount to play: its £1.05 million ($1.31 million) buy-in is the highest ever required to play a poker tournament, beating the previous €1m ($1.11 million) it cost to play the Big One for One Drop in Monte Carlo in 2016. Elton Tsang won that, for €11,111,111, and the champion of the Triton £1m Charity Event should win more.
The tournament is open to invitation holders and their invited guests only, which means you’ll need to do some schmoozing to get in (once you’ve found that £1 million you have tucked under the bed). But even if you decide to head to London just to hang out, you’ll be in a fine spot. The location, in the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane, is right across the street from Hyde Park, the biggest park in the city. It includes the Serpentine Lido, offering freshwater, outdoor swimming and a welcome chance to cool off.