Take Your Poker Offline To Top Land Casinos
By Zac Ormley
Once upon a time, a shady backroom or private game was the only place where you could get your poker fix in the UK.
After the online poker boom came, poker clubs began to spring up all across the country. The big casino chains began to sit up and take notice too. Slowly, cardrooms were expanded to exploit the popularity of Texas Hold'em.
And while some of the rather "grey area" poker clubs have come and gone, in 2018 we have a nice situation where live poker is booming. There are more places to play than ever, and casinos regularly hold major festivals and events.
Major UK Casinos and Card Clubs
Dusk Till Dawn
Redfield Way Boulevard Retail Park Lenton Nottingham NG7 2UW
It might offer a few casino games like roulette now, but you can't argue with Dusk Till Dawn's intent. Set up as the UK's largest dedicated cardroom, DTD - based on the outskirts of Nottingham - boasts 45 tables and runs major tournaments throughout the year.
Since partnering with PartyPoker online, Dusk Till Dawn is the venue for the WPT when the tour comes to England. They have also hosted UKIPT stops in the past, as well as televised high-roller cash games.
On a regular basis, DTD runs cash games around the clock, from £1/£1 No Limit Hold'em to £2/£2 Dealer's Choice. Sit n' Go's and private games can also be set up on request.
The Poker Room
Grosvenor Victoria Casino 150 – 162 Edgware Road London W2 2DT
It used to be known as just the poker room at The Vic, but London's iconic casino has finally given its cardroom a name. It has for years been the centre of London poker, and many of the country's biggest names have passed through its doors.
The Poker Room seats over 200 players and is still the centre of cash games in the capital. Rivals the Hippodrome and Empire Casino certainly give it a run for its cash game money, but you can't compete with The Poker Room's history.
Hippodrome Casino Cranbourn Street Leicester Square London WC2H 7JH
When the Hippodrome was revamped as one of the country's swankiest casinos, not many people gave the poker room much hope. Stuck in the Gods on the casino's top floor, the room was small and not ideal with anyone suffering from vertigo.
Enter PokerStars, who took over the room to turn it into PokerStars LIVE. Since then, the world's biggest poker site has its own live room where it can offer cash games around the clock. It also hosts its 'UKIPT Series' of tournaments that carry a friendly £250 buy-in. (http://www.pokerstarslondon.com/)
Aspers Casino Westfield Stratford City
312 The Loft Montfichet Road Olympic Park London E20 1ET
When the UK's new gambling laws permitted casinos to expand, UK chain Aspers seized their opportunity. The new Westfield Stratford shopping centre was opened in time for the 2012 Olympics and overlooked the Olympic Park. Aspers took over the entire top floor of the centre to provide membership-free gambling right off the street.
Although Aspers held several major tours, it wasn't until a huge cardroom expansion that the casino's cardroom really flourished. Aspers now hosts friendly £20 afternoon tournaments and a Friday night Hold'em event that regularly brings over 200 players. Cash game action runs 24/7.
Major Live Poker Tours
Grosvenor UK Poker Tour (GUKPT)
The GUKPT celebrated its richest-ever Grand Final in 2015 when a prizepool worth £642,000 was achieved.
It marked an amazing feat for a tour that's been around since the mid-2000s. Some of the UK's best-known faces, like Sam Trickett, Praz Bansi, and Jeff Kimber have all won GUKPT tour titles. At buy-ins of £1,000 the tour caters for online qualifiers, amateurs taking a shot, and regular pros alike.
The GUKPT Goliath carries a £120 buy-in and manages to attract thousands of runners every year thanks to its re-entry structure.
Genting Poker Series
A slightly lower-key UK poker tour, but no less prestigious, is the GPS (Genting Poker Series). Main events on the tour, which are held in Genting casinos across the UK, are set at £440. However, smaller side events pull in the casual players.
UKIPT (UK & Ireland Poker Tour)
PokerStars' first tour specifically aimed at UK players is now past the five-season mark. Casinos in Bristol, Nottingham and London mix things up with the best from Dublin and Edinburgh to provide some top-quality Hold'em tournament entertainment. £3,000 High Roller events and £200 Turbo side events cater for either end of the budget spectrum.
WPT (World Poker Tour)
Since the World Poker Tour was taken over by PartyPoker, lowered buy-ins and launched their National Series, the UK has welcomed them with open arms. The PartyPoker WPT UK forms part of the main tour now, with Dusk Till Dawn hosting a Main Event that attracts some of the country's best players.
The Pub Poker Boom
As part of the 2005 gambling overhaul, pubs were allowed to start hosting low-buy in poker nights. Players can now legally buy-in for a maximum of £5 into small Sit 'n Go's, with a maximum prizepool of £100 per game.
Pub poker organisations like Redtooth Poker (www.redtoothpoker.com) and The Nuts Poker League (http://www.thenutspokerleague.com/) now run weekly leagues where the best players can progress to regional and national finals. Played in big UK casinos, the Final prizes can include anything from cash to trips to Las Vegas.
Pub poker is a fun and friendly way of enjoying cheap poker for real money every night of the week.