Thoughts on live poker in the UK

I’ve been playing online poker now for almost 3 years and so far have only played once in a live environment. It was a £20 buy-in event and was great fun to play. I finished 9th from a field of 81 and missed the money spots by two places, the usual so-near-yet-so-far situation I seem to find myself in when playing poker a lot of the time.

It was a great experience and one that I would like to do again. The problem I have is where I live in relation to the nearest casinos and poker rooms. The nearest casino that plays tournament style poker is approx 35 miles away. For people in the USA or Canada this might not seem to be far away, but living in the UK with the road system we have and also working a job that involves some very unorthodox shift patterns and a young family to consider, any free time is a precious commodity and not one where I want to be doing a minimum of a 70 mile round trip for the sake of a £20 tournament.

My attempts at qualifying for various live tournaments via online satellites have not been wholly successful. The closest I got was satelliting into a $500 qualifier for last year’s Irish Poker Open, only for the online poker room to suffer a technical problem on the night of the qualifier and the qualifier got cancelled (the upside was that I managed to turn a $1 buy-in into a $500 cash, but it could’ve been so much more).

The tournament I played in was at the Gala Casino in Bristol. From where I live, Bristol is 35 miles away. The other towns and cities in this area of the country that have a casino or poker room are; Cardiff, Walsall, Birmingham, Coventry and Nottingham. Travelling distances to these places vary between 70 and 100 miles (140 to 200 miles for a round trip) which is too far away to warrant travelling to for small buy-in regular tournaments in the range of anything up to £30, which is the type of buy-in that I can currently afford (once every so often, not every week).

What would be nice to see in 2011 is either a new casino or poker room closer to home or some way for establishments other than casinos or dedicated poker rooms to be able to host regular poker sessions.