Exciting news broke in the poker world last night as PokerStars Blog can reveal that King’s Casino owner Leon Tsoukernik has purchased the Casino Atrium at the Hilton Hotel in Prague, home of the European Poker Tour (EPT).
Tsoukernik, who founded the King’s Casino in Rozvadov back in 2003 and turned it into the largest poker room in Europe, will be taking over the reins in time for EPT Prague, which kicks off on December 5, 2019.
“I’m very excited,” Tsoukernik tells PokerStars Blog. “I will be working full-time here in Prague, so if there are any complaints or any questions from the poker players, everybody is welcome to come directly to me and ask me right to my face. Anything you want to know, I will help you in Prague as much as I can.”
While he was previously based near Rozvadov in Western Bohemia, Tsoukernik recently relocated to the Czech Republic capital.
“My kids are now going to an international school in Prague, so I spend quite a bit of my time in here–Monday to Friday–to be with my family,” he says. “I didn’t have any business in Prague and I had nothing to do, so I decided to call a friend of mine to ask him if he would sell the Casino Atrium at the Hilton to me.
“We sat down for more than five hours at Kings Casino in Rozvadov and we made a deal. I bought the casino right on the spot.”
While Tsoukernik admits the casino had been offered to him a couple of times in the past, he was hesitant to purchase it while not living in the city himself. Now that his family is based in Prague, however, he felt the time was right.
“It is a big investment, both financially and in my time,” he says. “If my family hadn’t moved here, I would not have made a deal like this.”
Now that the deal is made, Tsoukernik has big plans which sound very exciting for poker players.
“I’m planning a major reconstruction here to make it far more comfortable for the players, like the Kings Casino in Rozvadov is,” he says. “I want to bring the Kings Casino look and atmosphere to Prague.
“For starters, we have changed the currency situation for players for the upcoming EPT Prague. I believe 97 percent of players here in Prague are much happier to play cash games in Euros, so we have canceled the Czech Koruna and this year all the live games–both cash and tournaments–will be in Euros.”
When he’s not hard at work, high stakes cash games are Tsoukernik’s pastime of choice. He’s now planning on making the cash games in Prague bigger and better than ever.
“I think it’s going to be far easier for players to get into a cash game,” he tells us. “We’ll run the cash games differently from the previous owners, who were a more slot-oriented company. They were a casino, but they focused on slot revenue rather than live cash poker revenue.
“At stops like the EPT, they didn’t know how to organise it so they brought in all the staff from outside. We’ll be bringing in our own team—an incredibly skilled, trained team of cash game operators, while the tournaments will continue to be run by PokerStars. Cash games will be much easier to access, it will be much easier to change tables, much easier to find limits, there will be much easier cage procedures, and so on.”
Prague is not only one of the most beloved stops on the live poker circuit, but the casino at the Hilton also holds fond memories for Tsoukernik, who took down the €50,000 Super High Roller at EPT Prague back in 2016, defeating Charlie Carrel heads-up to win €741,100.
“Absolutely, I have some excellent memories here,” he says. “Prague is one of the nicest cities in the world. It is a dream destination for people who like culture. The city is very cultural, it’s very elegant, and it’s very safe. Prague is probably one of the safest towns I know. It’s not expensive either, compared with other major European cities. It’s very welcoming for poker players, and the Hilton is a great hotel in the middle of town.”
Tsoukernik’s poker résumé now boasts $4.93 million in live cashes. His most recent success came at the 2019 World Series of Poker Europe at his own King’s Casino, when he won a €100K No Limit Hold’em Short Deck event for €1.1 million. Unfortunately for Tsoukernik, the invitational tournament didn’t come with a WSOP bracelet.
“Sadly I couldn’t really play bracelet events as I was the organiser,” he says. “Although I am allowed to play in the casino, I usually don’t play the tournaments. We had a large number of VIPs in town though and they requested some big buy-in private events. I will just have to win a bracelet in Las Vegas.”
It’s refreshing to hear that despite all of his success in business and poker, Tsoukernik still wants to win a WSOP bracelet as much as anyone down your local poker room.
“I will definitely be going for a bracelet in the years to come,” he says. “I’ve done quite well with poker play, considering I’ve probably only played around 50 tournaments in my life. I have won an EPT Super High Roller, I’ve won some other European events, I even won an online tournament once. But winning a bracelet is my dream, of course. It’s every poker player’s dream to win a bracelet.”
With this acquisition, it feels like the future of live poker in Europe and the Czech Republic is in good hands.
“I love poker, it’s the best game,” Tsoukernik says. “I could spend a lot of time playing poker. The only problem being a businessman is I get phone calls all the time which I have to answer. King’s Casino in Rozvadov now has 700 employees, so it can be hard to concentrate. To play good poker you need to be in the poker mood. You can’t answer your phone every five minutes!”
You can win your seat to EPT Prague on PokerStars. Click here to open an account and get started.