It’s early December and that means only one thing. Clue: it’s not Christmas shopping. The poker world has descended on the beautiful city of Prague for 18 days of intense tournament action.
Kicking things off in style is the €1100 Eureka Poker Tour Prague main event, Eastern Europe’s equivalent of the UKIPT. Today is Day 1b which has an unbelievable 935 players registered at the time of writing. Add that to the 366 runners from Day 1a and we are looking at a mammoth field and a first prize of over €200,000.
Numbers like this make the recent UKIPT stops in the Isle of Man, Nottingham and even London seem like a bit of a disappointment. But it’s not all doom and gloom for UK poker. There are things we can learn from tournaments like Eureka Prague and the Spanish Estrellas Barcelona and some important changes that could be implemented to revitalise some of the biggest tours in the UK.
So let’s look at why so many players have taken their seat at the Hilton Prague over the last couple of days:
1. Prague Poker Festival – With such a range of tournaments on, including the high buy-in EPT and WPT main events, it encourages plenty of players to make the trip and play the lot.
2. The city of Prague – The chance to visit one of Europe’s most beautiful cities? Don’t mind if I do…
3. Catchment area – Eureka Prague is smack bang in the middle of Europe and is therefore able to attract players from every inch of the continent.
4. Cheap expenses – We all know that expenses can hit a travelling player hard but with Hotels generally less than €50 a night Prague seems pretty affordable. Add on some cheap food and you’re laughing.
But what changes can some of the UK tours make to attract bigger numbers?
1. Big tournaments, big names – By scheduling tournaments to take place in the same city and time frame as stops like EPT London and the Irish Open it would boost numbers and provide an extra reason for players to make the trip. Having a less congested schedule over the course of the year would also allow players to plan for these festivals.
2. Stick to the capitals – No offence to Coventry but I’m sure more players are tempted to visit London, Dublin, Cardiff and Edinburgh (and of course Nottingham, we can’t miss out DTD).
3. Promote abroad – Poker is booming in countries like Spain, Italy, Germany and France. By promoting abroad we can attract plenty of poker players to our shores.
4. Reduce costs – There’s not much we can do about hotel prices in the UK but by reducing buy-ins to a more affordable £770 (as previously seen in UKIPT season 3) it will attract recreational players who might feel £1,100 is out of their price range in the current economic and poker climate.
Seeing the numbers in Prague today shows there’s still a lot of life in poker yet. Here’s to many more Eureka Prague type tournaments in the future!
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