Moving the World Series of Europe to France
Oct. 7, 2011, Posted by Jeff.Kimber
Moving the World Series of Europe to France may seem like a good idea for the detractors, but looking beneath the glitz and glamour of Cannes and the sunnier weather in the south of France, is it such a good idea?
There’s no doubt the Empire was not built to be the home of the World Series of Poker Europe (that’s the Casino at the Empire in Leicester Square, not the British Empire, which of course could have been home to anything we wanted, back in the day).
With tables spread over different floors, different rooms, a balcony here, a dance floor there, it wasn’t exactly ideal. But isn’t it about time London Clubs, owned by Harrahs, gave London the poker room it deserves instead of upping sticks to France?
The problem Harrahs had when they acquired London Clubs is the casinos are small, not conducive with holding the European leg of the world championship.
They started off spreading the love, with the same tournament running in the Sportsman and 50 St James’, as well as the Empire, which obviously wasn’t ideal as poker players are never that well organised at the best of times…especially me, who turned up at the Sportsman while my chips were being blinded off at St James’.
That idea was quickly shelved in favour of moving all the action to Leicester Square, but the card room there simply isn’t big enough.
A lot of big tournaments are now played in hotel conference rooms, and I see no reason why the WSOPE couldn’t have done the same in London, though with the Victoria Casino on the Edgware Road, owned by rivals Grosvenor, planning a £5million extension to its already vast card room, perhaps building a home for the WSOPE would have been better.
Instead the whole show will be taking place in Cannes. It sounds ideal, sun, sea and sparkling bracelets, but scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find some pretty disgruntled punters.
For Europeans, getting to Cannes and finding somewhere to rest your head is far from easy.
For Americans, flying direct from Vegas to Cannes is a non-starter, so the big hitters from America will have to find an alternative route, if they still come. For those that think France is a suburb of London, that won’t be too much of a hardship, at least until they physically do it, but for some it’s a reason to give it a miss.
Secondly, poker in France is now regulated and therefore taxed. That means that 4% of every price pool will go straight to the French Government and in all the players will be losing eight to 10% of the prize pool in deductions, and that’s before you’ve tipped anyone or bought a pint…if they sell pints on the Riviera?
Steve Brecher is the first of the Americans to openly criticise the WSOPE move, tweeting that the 4% tax added to the extra travel makes it a no go. He won’t be the last.
The WSOPE was such a special event because of the concentration of superstars, now this move will dilate that two-fold, with more locals and less big names making the journey across the pond.
For the past couple of years London has been the centre of the poker world for a month every Autumn, making it worthwhile for players to travel and play a European series of events like we travel to the WSOP.
Now the EPO has gone, WPT London is absent, the WSOPE has moved, so travelling for just the EPT is not such an attraction.
Making the World Series of Europe as special as the actual World Series, and the bracelets as special as those dished out in Vegas, has been the biggest problem for the powers that be since the WSOPE’s inception. Just as it was becoming part of the poker establishment Harrah’s have made this move to France.
I’m sure, as a company for whom money seems so high on the agenda, Harrah’s will understand why as a UK poker player I will be voting with my feet and not paying extra to play for taxed winnings this year, I’ll be staying at homes.
Jeff Kimber is a 36-year-old Grosvenor Casino sponsored professional poker player who has amassed well over $1.5million in career earnings, having given up a successful career as a sports journalist to forge a career at the poker tables. He has won the World Heads-up championship and a UK Poker Tour main event, as well as major final tables in $5,000-plus buy-in events at WPT and Asian Poker Tour events, the Ladbrokes Poker Cruise and the Johnny Chan Invitational in the Caribbean. Jeff has made three WSOP final tables, all in PLO events, including a second place to JC Tran in 2009. While his live exploits have continued, Jeff is still a very successful online player under the nickname JaffaCake, uncluding winning iPoker’s ECOOP $1k PLO rebuy in December 2008 for close to $50k.
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