Poker in the Park 2011 [Editorial]

Poker in the Park 2011 [Editorial]

Monday, 22 August 2011

Between the World Series Of Poker Europe, the London stop of the European Poker Tour and the PokerStars World Championship Of Online Poker, September is always a busy month. It all kicks off with Poker In The Park V next week and Matt Perry has the lowdown.

Next week more than 20,000 poker players and enthusiasts will be collected together in London for the fifth annual Poker In The Park extravaganza.

This time it’s bigger, better and more action-packed than ever before and, trust me, it was pretty big, good and action-packed the last couple of times around.

A new venue in Hanover Square gives us shedloads more room than the little park at Leicester Square and the 2011 edition of Poker In The Park event intends to make full use of it.

First of all, like any proper festival should have, there’s a main stage. Not only is this the venue from which the British Poker Awards will be presented but it will also be bringing you live music, stand-up comedy and exhibitions of not just poker prowess but also chess events. At what other venue can you see a swing band, then a poker seminar, then a stand-up routine, then a chess master taking on three or four players at once?

Of course, we also have places where you can actually play some poker. Last year, I managed to win enough games on the electronic heads-up tables to make a live single-table tournament final where I finished third. Not good enough for a shiny glass trophy and a Bluff Europe t-shirt, I’m afraid. This time around it looks like more players, more games, more prizes. That’s only ever a good thing. The Genting Poker Dome will see sit-and-goes be running around-the-clock with a buy-in of nothing. Naturally, despite the very real prizes on offer.

One of my favourite spots at last year's Poker In The Park was the Poker Pro’s Lecture Marquee. Neil Channing, Alex Rousso and Dave 'Devilfish' Ulliott were notable highlights, the latter blowing the former two out of the water; no offence to the Sensei nor the Pickleman, of course. Last year they were joined by Liv Boeree, Andrew Robl and others plus we’ve had world champions Jamie Gold and Peter Eastgate share their wisdom with Bluff Europe readers and general poker fans.

Speaking of wisdom-sharing, you could do worse than to check out the live tuition marquee. Last year, Black Belt Poker’s 'bloke whose name I’ve forgotten' took myself and a table through a few hands in real time after we played them to showdown or the end. You might learn something, you might not but if your experience is anything like mine you will at least learn that the games are very much not dead and that not everybody is solid.

The main changes to the format of the festival this year are that it isn’t truly Poker In The Park; it’s now poker, chess, mahjong, bridge, backgammon and rummy...In The Park. Yes, this year a whole host of other games will keep you occupied if you get somehow sick of the poker with skill games to suit all your degenerate needs. Personally, I’m up for some rummy.

Oh, and the giant GUKPT shark-headed mascot will be back. I thoroughly admire that guy’s dedication, that fish head and suit combo looks sweltering and last year it was really quite sunny. They say if a shark stops moving it dies, which is perhaps why they had GUKPT sharkhead taking on players in heads-up matches constantly throughout the day.

Of course, over the next week we’ve still so much to find out. Namely, who the speakers and tutors will be and what famous faces you can expect to find there. Last year, the beautiful Liv Boeree kicked off proceedings and I got to stand in closer proximity to her than I ever thought I would (and likely more so than she’s comfortable with). She’s shorter in real life.

In short, I’m looking forward to it and you should be to. I’ll see you there in just over a week, okay?

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Tags: Poker In The Park