You can play live poker anywhere but why not take your game to the year’s premier events? We round up the best of the best, whatever your bankroll
Playing online poker might be convenient but there’s nothing like taking down a live tournament – it’s one of poker’s ultimate thrills. Live poker has never been in a better place either. There are top tier tournaments playing out all over the world every month, and you don’t have to break your roll to take your seat. The $10k WSOP Main Event might still be the one everyone wants to play – and win! – but you can buy into an awesome live event for a fraction of the cost, and even combine it with a holiday to maximise your return and keep your partner happy.
If we’ve convinced you that it’s time to make your mark in the real world, it’s time to start planning. Remember, you can try to satellite in to the tournament of your choice, so you don’t even have to open your wallet to take a shot at some serious money.
1. EPT/UKIPT Dublin
February 9-20, Royal Dublin Society, Dublin, Ireland
The Irish absolutely love their poker which makes it all the more surprising that this marks the first time the European Poker Tour has been there in eight years. To make up for it, PokerStars has combined the UKIPT and EPT into one monster festival, with 67 events scheduled to play over 12 days of action at the Royal Dublin Society. Located just five minutes from the city centre, the RDS was the scene of the last EPT in Dublin, back in Season 4, when Reuben Peters beat Annette Obrestad to the €532,620 first prize.
With buy-ins ranging from €100 up to €25k, there’s plenty for everyone in Dublin, including some funky tournaments like Irish Hold’em (four hole cards), Flipouts and Hyperturbos. The €1,100 UKIPT Main Event plays out February 10-14 with the EPT Main Event following on from the 14-20. Both have two Day 1s and there are live satellites running at the RDS and online at PokerStars. Click for schedule and satellite info.
2. Grand Prix Poker Tour
February 20-21, St James’ Park, Newcastle, UK
The Grand Prix Poker Tour is the most ambitious project ever undertaken by Dusk Till Dawn – and that’s saying something. Touring the greatest football stadiums in the land, the GPPT lands in Newcastle for the fifth stop in February, with a stonking £250k guaranteed two-day event for a buy-in of just $109.
You can play Day 1s online at partypoker.com or live at St James’ Park. Great value and you’re guaranteed a friendly atmosphere, with multiple Day 1 flights and plenty of other fun stuff to get stuck into if you bust out early. Click here for more info.
3. Mazagan Deep Stack
February 25-28, Mazagan Casino, Morocco
The Mazagan Beach Resort is a stunning place to pitch up for a poker holiday. The five-star complex offers a spa, golf and the largest casino in Morocco, which runs regular poker tournaments including the quarterly Deep Stack. The next one runs at the end of February with a 30,000 MAD buy-in (£2,100) and a 1.5m MAD guarantee.
For 34,000 MAD (£2,400) you get a four-night package, which includes accommodation and food. If you’re looking for a place to combine the perfect short-break holiday and a poker tournament, this is it. Click here to book your package now.
4. Sky UKPC
February 25-29, Dusk Till Dawn, Nottingham, UK
The Sky UK Poker Championships has quickly become one of the premier mid-level events on the European circuit, for two good reasons: the location (Dusk Till Dawn is still the best place to play in the UK) and the whopping £1m guarantee for just a £1,100 buy-in. The last UKPC played out as six-max, which favoured the pros, but it’s back to full ring this time.
Satellites are running from as little as £1.15 on Sky Poker and that small outlay could be enough to secure a £200k payday. That’s what the 2015 champion Fraser Bellamy took home last year. Click here for schedule and satellite info.
5. Unibet UK Poker Tour
February 12-14, Rendezvous Casino, Brighton, UK
The Unibet UK Poker Tour has partnered with Casears Entertainment for five legs in its inaugural season. Each leg features a £220 buy-in, £40,000 guaranteed Main Event, plus a full schedule of side events. The first leg is in Brighton and from there the tour travels to Nottingham, Brighton (again), Glasgow and Manchester. You can qualify for as little as €1 at Unibet online now!
6. WPT LA Poker Classic
February 27 – March 3, Commerce Casino, LA, USA
One of the most prestigious tournaments in the world was the scene of an incredible back-to-back WPT triumph for Anthony Zinno last year. He won just over $1m here after taking down the WPT Fallsview Poker Classic earlier in the month, joining Gus Hansen and Carlos Mortensen as the only players to win three WPT titles.
If the $10k buy-in is too rich for your blood there are daily side events that give you the chance to take in the Commerce atmosphere, and Main Event satellites from $150. Click for more info.
7. WSOP Circuit
March 3-9, Tbilisi Sports Palace, Georgia
The WSOP and Adjarabet.com have teamed up to bring one of the first official WSOP Circuit events to Europe. The Main Event is the $300k guaranteed $1,000+$100 buy-in, which runs March 6-9, but there’s a plethora of side events for smaller bankrolls, including the $300+$30 Adjarabet Championship (March 4-6). There’s a $50k guaranteed $2,200 High Roller on March 8 and a $15k guaranteed $30 Low Roller on March 3.
There are 19 tournaments in total, with seven ring events, and satellites are running now at adjarabet.com. Click here for more information and a full schedule.
8. APAT WCOAP
March 19-28, Aspers Casino Stratford, London, UK
The Amateur Poker Association and Tour is in its ninth successful season and all eyes are on the upcoming World Championship of Amateur Poker. It’s looking to top last year’s WCOAP with 22 events, starting with the two-day 8-Game Championship. Other events include Open Face Chinese, the Cash Championship and the biggie, the £100 World Amateur Poker Championship.
Daniel Lewis is the man to beat – the reigning World Champ fought his way through 396 players to claim the first prize of £8,500. Click here for the very latest information on the APAT forums.
9. Irish Open
March 21-28, Citywest Hotel, Dublin, Ireland
The Irish Open is steeped in history. It’s the oldest poker tournament in Europe (the second in the world after the WSOP Main Event) and it’s been drawing in enthusiastic punters since 1980.
The good news is that it’s back! There were rumours going round last year that the 2015 Irish Open was going to be the last. Thankfully we can now officially scotch those and announce that the organisers are looking to put it back on the map as Europe’s biggest poker festival. The 2016 buy-in has been dropped to just €1,150 making it much more accessible, but it comes with a whopping €500k guarantee.
It’s set to run March 21-28, back at the Citywest Hotel, with a full schedule of 32 events to suit all bankrolls. The Main Event starts on March 24 with two Day 1s culminating in the final table on March 28. The Mini Irish Open is back too and the two-day event starts on March 27 with a €250 buy-in.
Satellites for the Main Event are running now on the iPoker network, including Paddy Power Poker, Betfair, Coral Poker, Ladbrokes and Boyle Poker. A number of MPN skins are also running satellites from January 21 including BetVictor, 32Red, Stan James and Betsson.
We’ll bring you the very latest information and we’ll hopefully see you out in Dublin. The final word here goes to the organisers who say their aim ‘is to bring the craic back to the event.’ We’ll raise a glass to that!
Click here for schedule and satellite info. You can watch 2015 highlights below.
10. European Poker Tour: Grand Final
April 30 – May 6, Monte Carlo, Monaco
It’s been a shorter EPT this season, with just five regular stops. The other difference is that this is the only €10k buy-in event – the PCA Main Event buy-in was reduced in-line with other stops to €5,300 this year.
It gives extra prestige to the Grand Final and there’s plenty of money flying around elsewhere in the schedule, with €25k, €50k and €100k High Roller events ready to prove that the EPT belongs in Monte Carlo.
Last year, Adrian Mateos came out on top of a star-studded final table that also boasted Ole Schemion (6th) and Johnny Lodden (4th). Mateos won €1m and – after 106 Main Events – became the first Spanish EPT champion ever. He also won the respect of poker players everywhere after running a massive bluff against Lodden on the final table. Watch the hand below.
11. Super-Weekend Tallinn
May 4-8, Olympic Casino, Tallinn, Estonia
If you like to party and play poker, the upcoming SuperWeekend in Tallinn will tick all your boxes. The centrepiece of the four-day trip might be the €500 Bounty event, but this isn’t a poker festival packed with side events. Once you’re out there’s a €100 re-entry side event, but the rest of the time is given over to parties.
Each €1,400 package gives you your €500 seat (including the €50 bounty), along with four nights in a luxury hotel, €250 spending money and entry into all the legendary Betsafe parties and VIP activities. Book with some like-minded mates and we guarantee you’ll have the time of your life.
Daily freerolls are running on Betsafe now at 12.30 and 22.30 (CET), and satellites start from €3.30, with €27 Daily Finals offering a direct route in. You can also buy-in to the poker action direct for €500 online in the Betsafe Poker lobby: Satellites/SuperWeekend.
12. SUPER HIGH ROLLER BOWL
May 29 – June 1, Aria, Las Vegas, USA
The first Super High Roller Bowl came out of nowhere last year and while it didn’t quite eclipse the WSOP, it turned a lot of heads. The $500k buy-in event was the launch pad for the new Poker Central TV station and it attracted 43 of the best poker players in the world – and a few juicy businessmen.
The final table was a who’s who of the high roller world, with Erik Seidel, Scott Seiver and Connor Drinan all cashing but missing out on the top spot. Seiver actually started heads-up action against Brian Rast with a 2:1 chip lead but couldn’t convert and Rast went on to claim the amazing $7.25m first prize. Watch the final hand play out below.
The 2016 Super High Roller Bowl has a slightly more modest buy-in of $300,000 with a cap of 49 players. Organisers are expecting a $15m prize pool with a $5m first prize.
13. World Series of Poker
May 31 –July 18, Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, USA
The 2016 WSOP is scheduled to run from May 31 to July 18. Dates have been released for the return of the Colossus and the Main Event, but the full schedule is yet to be announced – we’re expecting it at the end of January/beginning of Feb.
The WSOP has confirmed that the popular Millionaire Maker, Monster Stack and Little One for ONE DROP events will all be playing again, but there’s no news yet on any new events or the one everyone’s interested in – the $1m Big One for ONE DROP.
June 2-7: Colossus II
The event that stole the show at last year’s World Series is back for a second crack at staging the world’s biggest
live poker tournament. Last year’s Colossus attracted an incredible 22,734 entries from 14,284 unique players and organisers will be hoping to better this in 2016. We think they’ll make it.
The ultra-low $565 buy-in stays the same with flights running June 2-4. You can re-enter other flights if you fail to advance to Day 2 and each one plays into the money – something which was trailed at the WSOPE Oktoberfest tournament – which means you could cash multiple times.
The guarantee is up from $5m to $7m and, after complaints about last year’s first prize, there’s a cool $1m up top for the winner.
July 9-18: Main Event
The Big One is back, with three Day 1s and ten consecutive days of action leading up to the fight for the world’s most prestigious bracelet.
There’s been no announcement yet as to when the final table will play out, but we’re guessing that the November Nine will be back for another year at least. We’re still hoping that the Main Event will be live streamed but we’re not holding our breath. It could lead to another ridiculous situation where the poker world is following the biggest tournament of the year on Twitter.