Over the last week and a half, I've taken a couple of day trips into London and ended up playing in the poker rooms of three of the casinos whilst I was there. Whilst mentioning/discussing it here on the forums, a couple of mentions have been made about not having played live, at all as well as in London. So I'd thought I'd whip up a blog on my thoughts and impressions on them.

First, and probably foremost, is The Grosvenor Victoria Casino, or simply The Vic, discreetly located just off Edgware Road and a 5 minute walk from the Tube. Unlike the other two casinos I went to, membership is required for entry, but it is free, only takes a couple of minutes (you'll need ID, obviously!) and comes with an offer of a tour round the casino. The entire second floor of the casino serves as the dedicated poker room, complete with its own cashier. It also boasts an electronic waiting list, meaning you can just walk in, log into the system at the desk, select your game and wait to receive your table call up via the casino wide tanoy. Not sure if you can get chips at the table, but you can easily get your chips from the cashier without having to rush to your table. When you are called, just look for the table numbers hanging from the ceiling. The Vic offers £1/£1 through £50/£100 No Limit Hold-Em and £1/2 through £25/£50 Pot Limit Omaha, in addition to dealers choice mixed limit and and pot limit, so you'll probably never be short of a game or variety. If your also carrying a few bits and bobs with you that you don't necessarily wan't to take to the tables, you can put them in a locker just past the main desk.

Next up is The Hippodromes cardroom, a.k.a Pokerstars LIVE, which is located within spitting distance of the Leicester Street tube station. It's a small card room, 6-8 tables maximum and is located right at the top of the casino. Finding it can be a bit of a hassle, as it's location not shown on many of the signs, but if you find an elevator, head to the 4th floor. the smallest stakes they offer is £1/£2 and when I was playing in there, they only had one table going which wasn't full, and none of the players weren't, or didn't play,  amateurish. Although it is worth noting I was there at about 12am, so there games might not of really got swinging by then. As far as staff and decor go, if you can look past all the Stars branding, is all emaculate, as I'd personally expect from a card room associated with Stars. 

And lastly is The Casino At The Empire, which is a stones throw away from the Hippodrome and is definately the cheapist feeling of the three. Whilst their card room is about the same size as the Hippodromes and had about the same amount of tables, they were noticably scuffed, the denominations on the chips (which appeared to be glued on) were missing on several the £5 chips, the dealer I had for all but the final two hands was constantly being distracted by goings on outside of the table after leaving us waiting(new table), they don't have they're own custom cards (they look like off the shelf sort you get in a cheap store), when I went to cash out I was left waiting and it's actually way harder to find their card room compared to the Hippodrome, which to get to, you have to go behind one of the two receptions, past the bar and past the slots to get to it.

The Empire's card room does have two redeeming features, though. First is it's leather office style chairs, and it's daily tournaments that start at the more resonable time (for me anyway, living outside London) of 2pm. Unfortunately, I'm not much of a tournament player and the tournies and chairs don't detract from what is overall, a very cheap cardroom. Especially when the similarly sized and far better Hippodrome card room is less than 2 minutes away.

So if I was asked what casino to go to first time or generally, it would hands down be The Vic Overall, it's the biggest, the best and the history. Definitely worth the time of day, but the Hippodrome is definitley worth a gander if your not looking for a game around midday.