It’s been a few years since the poker world has converged on London in such force, and hardly at this time of year.  A blustery wind and cold make the five minute walk from the Victoria Club Casino to the hotel an even flip for a taxi ride.  But the cold doesn’t matter.  Because the sheer weight of numbers of players from around the world warmed London last week and brought all its poker history into the limelight.

London had been descended upon by all manner of poker inhabitants, lured by the UKIPT and EPT London running side by side.  You couldn’t walk past the Persian joint around the corner without spying Scott Seiver feasting on a platter of rice and kebabs. Or Vanessa Selbst seated in the bar at the Vic during a dinner break trying to get a game of Open Face Chinese Poker.

Also during the week was the official opening of the Hippodrome Card Room and Casino in Leicester Square. An impressive place and a deluxe event, but it might as well have been billed as a reunion of UK poker, past and present.  Drinks soon led to a seated dinner with British luminaries such as Vicky Coren, Neil “Bad Beat” Channing and Keith “The Camel” Hawkins. Bad Beat and The Camel have been gambling with each other a particularly long time. They’ve been betting together since high school!

Most went for the steak and who could blame them. It came beautifully served on a wooden board, in all its glory with a choice of sauce. Some had a ceviche to start that stole the show. 
Pokerstars Team Pro Vicky Coren perfectly represented the history of London poker in her wonderful novel “For Richer, For Poorer.” She began playing in kitchen table games across London and soon progressed to cash games at the Victoria club, London’s home for poker since the 1980’s, at least. Vicky’s poker career exploded when she won the EPT London on her home turf during Season III.

The evening continued with a turbo freeroll, but soon progressed to the bar. The spectrum of UK Poker was in full force. Young stars like Jake Cody, Liv Boeree, and Jamie Burland, old timers like Barny Boatman and Surindar Sunar, and tournament winners like Roberto Romanello and JP Kelly.  It was late before we all traipsed off into the night to get some sleep in preparation for Day 1.

The Prof.