Vegas comes to London for Poker bonanza

Not so long ago, if you were serious about your poker, there was really no other place in the world to be than Las Vegas. These days, however, Vegas comes to London every autumn for what has grown to become a major season of poker in the space of just two years. Over the next few weeks, this city is going to be playing host to some of the biggest action to be found anywhere, with a slew of major tournaments and an endless array of juicy side games. And that&rsquo;s a mix that&rsquo;ll prove irresistible for the leading names in the game, like Phil &lsquo;Poker Brat&rsquo; Hellmuth, Daniel &lsquo;Kid Poker&rsquo; Negreanu, and Phil Ivey.<br /><br />So what&rsquo;s going to be happening? Kicking off next Friday at the glitzy Casino at the Empire in Leicester Square is the World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE), the London extension of the Vegas World Series, which takes place every summer. This will be the third year for the WSOPE, and it&rsquo;s an event that has quickly established itself as the most esteemed poker competition to outside Nevada. After the four tournaments making up the WSOPE, the action switches in October to the Edgware Road&rsquo;s Hilton Metropole hotel for the London leg of the European Poker Tour (EPT). Now in its sixth season, the EPT also happens to be the closing competition of the European Poker Championships at the Grosvenor Victoria casino, a series of smaller buy-in tournaments suitable for those unwilling to stump up the &pound;5,000 EPT entry or &pound;10,000 you&rsquo;ll need for the WSOPE &ldquo;Main Event&rdquo; tournament.<br /><br />This year there&rsquo;s an extra buzz about the WSOPE because of the Las Vegas exploits of two men &ndash; Phil Ivey, the American many believe to be the finest living player, and the UK&rsquo;s James Akenhead. Both are among the &ldquo;November Nine&rdquo; &ndash; the finalists from the Main Event of the Vegas World Series. These nine players are the last ones standing from a field of over 6,000 who paid $10,000 to play the Main Event back in July. The final table &ndash; when they&rsquo;ll square off for a first prize of over $8.5m &ndash; is delayed until November to boost TV ratings, with the WSOPE falling nicely in the gap. If Akenhead goes all the way, he would be the first Brit to win &ldquo;the big one&rdquo; in twenty years, while Ivey&rsquo;s survival in the tournament brings genuine star power and excitement to the final table, after years of dominance by random amateurs.<br /><br />That&rsquo;s all to come, but Akenhead and Ivey&rsquo;s performances in London will be keenly watched as they look to notch up extra success ahead of the November clash. They&rsquo;ll have their work cut out though, since the WSOPE is seen as perhaps the most elite tournament there is. Instead of the 6,000 runners of the Las Vegas event, which is flush with amateurs chancing their arm, the London World Series is more like a boutique event for the elite.<br /><br />&ldquo;The thing about this tournament is that it really is a uniquely tough field, it&rsquo;s the best of the best up against each other, without anyone else getting in the way,&rdquo; says British pro Julian Thew, who represents William Hill Poker.<br /><br />&ldquo;The huge buy-in means you only get a few hundred players, and the ratio of pros to amateurs is much higher, so there&rsquo;s very little of what you&rsquo;d call &lsquo;dead money&rsquo;.&rdquo; He adds: &ldquo;But that only adds to the prestige of winning &ndash; everyone wants this one.&rdquo;<br /><br />For those who know where to find it &ndash; and with pockets deep enough &ndash; there should also be plenty of high stakes side action too. The game&rsquo;s most famous veteran player, 76-year-old Doyle Brunson, reported over the summer that the cash games he played during the World Series were the biggest he&rsquo;d ever seen &not;&ndash; and given that the action was being driven by Europeans, it&rsquo;s reasonable to assume that London will follow suit. As I said, for the next month, it&rsquo;s the only place to be a poker player.<br /><br />Tim Barber<br /><br /><strong>POKER IN LONDON </strong> What&rsquo;s happening when<br /><br /><strong>WORLD SERIES OF POKER EUROPE:</strong><br /><strong>September 18-20</strong> &pound;1,000 No-limit Hold&rsquo;em<br /><strong>September 21-23</strong> &pound;2,500 Pot Limit Hold&rsquo;em/Pot-Limit Omaha<br /><strong>September 23-25</strong> &pound;5,000 Pot Limit Omaha<br /><strong>September 26-29</strong> &pound;10,000 World Championship No-Limit Hold&rsquo;em<br /><strong>September 25</strong> WSOPE Caesars Cup (Ryder Cup-style US v Europe invitational team contest)<br /><br /><strong>EUROPEAN POKER TOUR LONDON:</strong><br /><strong>Oct 2-7</strong> &pound;5,000 No Limit Hold'em<br /><br /><strong>POKER ONLINE </strong> Upcoming tournaments from William Hill<br /><br /><strong>&bull; </strong>Monthly Million, $1,000,000 <br />guaranteed Sunday 13th September<br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; -$500+$35 at 18:00<br /><br /><strong>&bull; </strong>Sunday Night $250,000&nbsp; Guarantee<br />&nbsp;&nbsp; -$200+20 freezout at 19:00<br /><br /><strong>&bull; </strong>Fridays Night $150,000&nbsp; Guarantee<br />&nbsp;&nbsp; -$100+9 unlimited&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; <br />&nbsp;&nbsp; rebuys and add on at 20:00<br /><br /><strong>&bull; </strong>Twice weekly $100 freerolls<br />&nbsp;&nbsp; -Tuesdays &amp; Thursdays<br />&nbsp;&nbsp; -Earn 10 WH points to enter<br /><br /><strong>&bull; </strong>Online qualifiers to; Irish Winter Festival, WPT Marrakech, ECPT Malta, Poker Cup Australia<br /><br /><strong></strong>