WSOP Europe Launches This Fall


Poker Events will Take Place at Harrah’s London Club International Casinos

The World Series of Poker is about to cross the Atlantic.

Starting this fall, WSOP Europe events will be held at London Club International (LCI) casinos throughout the U.K. So far, three events during one poker series have been scheduled, but more are on the way.

WOSP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack said as soon as he heard Harrah’s was able to buy LCI, the gears started rolling on how to bring the WSOP brand to Europe. LCI owns 11 casinos. Eight of them are located in the U.K.

“We’re very excited about this. We think it’s going to be good to grow the WSOP business. We’re going to do this with a style and a flair that will be unique,” Pollack says.

With the European Poker Tour, the Irish Open, and many other major events taking place nearly weekly in Europe, Pollack says: “We recognize that we’re very late to the game in Europe,” but he believes that his WSOP Europe team — and the fact that the WSOP bracelet is the most recognizable piece of poker hardware out there — will allow them to quickly catch up.

“We’re the only poker brand in the world that has the WSOP bracelet,” Pollack says.

Since the events are taking place in Europe, players located there will possibly be able to qualify to the events by playing online poker satellites. Pollack would only say “stay tuned” when asked if Harrah’s has any plans to either partner with an online site or build its own around the LCI brand that would provide satellites.

Although it’s estimated that about half the 8,773 players who entered the 2006 WSOP main event qualified for the tourney through online satellites, U.S. law stops Harrah’s from officially recognizing players as online qualifiers. The U.K. now has laws on its books that allow online sites to be owned and operated there, which gives Harrah’s the green light to welcome online players with recognition and open arms.

It’s the goal of the WSOP to make these tournaments uniquely European, and they will have certain European quirks that American’s may find either charming or annoying. For example, the WSOP is debating a dress code that would have all the male players in blazers, a standard practice in many European casinos.

The WSOP is also debating if it will make the first few events exclusive to European players before opening them up to the rest of the world in an effort to generate buzz in the crowded European poker market. No decision on this has been made.

Even if that does happen, Pollack feels that WSOP Europe events will turn into a global kind of party, with players coming from all over the world to participate. This global view is much different than how the WSOP sees its WSOP Circuit series, which takes place in casinos owned by Harrah’s all around America.

“I think the Circuits, as they evolve, will become more local and regional events,” Pollack says. “I see the Circuit as grass roots events.”

By launching WSOP Europe, Harrah’s is setting itself up to expand into budding poker markets with continent-specific tournaments. With billions of people, Asia is considered the next unconquered poker landscape. Pollack wouldn’t or couldn’t say if the plans are already in motion to enter Asia, but indicated it’s a good possibility.

“Don’t be surprised if there are other announcements in the next 12 to 16 months,” he says.

WOSP Europe starts Sept. 6 with a £2,500 (approximately $4,900) H.O.R.S.E. event. A two-day, £5,000 (approximately $9,800 U.S.) pot-limit Omaha tournament starts Sept. 8. Both events will be held at LCI’s Leicester Square casino, which opens in April.

The six-day main event starts Sept. 10. It’s a £10,000 (approximately $19,600), no-limit hold’em event that will start at Leicester Square, and then move to Fifty and the Sportman casinos, all of which are located in London. Satellite events for all the tournaments will be held at LCI’s card rooms all across the U.K.

TV rights for the show have not been sold, and more tournaments will be listed shortly.

As Pollack put it, stay tuned for more news on the WSOP’s attempted conquest of Europe, and possibly the rest of the world.

Related LinksWorld of Poker Tour / Online Poker UK /

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