European poker is waking up post-COVID

Jon Pill
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Posted on: September 9, 2021 12:48 am EDT

In 2020, the lamps began going out all across Europe, again. It is only now that we are beginning to see them relit.

Europe is a little smaller in area than the U.S.A.—Texas alone is a little larger than France. But it is home to some of the biggest poker hubs outside of Vegas and Macau. However, it has been a while since live poker was widespread between the North Atlantic and the Eastern steppe.

At least three big pre-COVID festivals are returning to Europe in the next couple of months, along with several smaller ones. The next few months will see several open casinos expand their schedules and numerous closed casinos join the game again.

Just a few days ago, the Master Classics of Poker announced it will be back in November. The MCOP is held in Amsterdam.

Pieter Boers, who heads up the Casino Holland’s gaming services, said (in translation from the Dutch): “We are very happy to finally return to poker. Even if it is still only for planning and preparation. We can’t wait to be able to finally receive poker players at the Holland Casino again after 18 months off. We had to cancel the 2020 Master Classics of Poker because of COVID. The health and safety of our guests and employees obviously came first. Now we are now happy to organize another Master Classics of Poker. In addition, we are also busy preparing for the reintroduction of the live poker offer in our locations.”

The WSOPC is already underway at King’s Casino, Rozvadov. The Main Event is scheduled to finish on September 14th, 2021.

Locked down Europe

King’s will also be hosting the WSOPE in November for several weeks. Between those two fixtures, the casino — with one of the biggest poker rooms in Europe — will be hosting three smaller series with German, Dutch, and Italian themes. These are in turn the German Poker Days and Dutch Classics 2021 in late September. After that is the IPS Italian Poker Sport in early October.

King’s has been open for a while, along with the Casino Sochi in Russia. Sochi will be hosting the return of the EPT in October. So far, only the two Sochi stops on the EPT survived the COVID-ian axe.

Russia’s early reopening in the face of the virus is perhaps not surprising. People having been dying to make the Russian economy work pretty much since before the serfs were freed.

The UK was the next country to throw off the shackles of sensible quarantine protocols. The Grosvenor UK Poker Tour is back up and running almost in full. There will be two stops of the GUKPT this month and more to come.

Tallinn, Super High Roller Bowl, and more

Other locations in Europe have been a little more circumspect in coming back.

On the continent, that has changed in just the last few weeks. The next big return are the Kings of Tallinn, a poker festival held in the Estonian capital. That will be back on September 11 to 19. This is advertised as the biggest festival in Northern Europe.

These announcements come quick on the heels of the Super High Roller Bowl in Cyprus. The SHRBE saw Phil Ivey and Tony G make triumphant returns to poker. The host of that series, the Merit Hotel, Casino, and Spa, will be putting on another series later this month, the 2021 Millions North Cyprus.

In total, this makes one event in the Netherlands, one in Cyprus, five in Czechia, a festival in Estonia, a full series in the UK, and an EPT event in Russia. Most of these are starting or finishing in the next six weeks.

Here’s hoping the inevitable super-spreader catastrophe at this year’s WSOP doesn’t nix the new normal for another year and a half.

Featured image source: Flickr by wfabry