Top 12 Holiday Destinations For Poker Players

Author Image Article By Jonathan Raab GDC - Icon - Black - Info
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Top 12 Holiday Destinations For Poker Players

Online poker brings millions of people virtually together from around the world to bluff, raise and rake it in at anytime, anywhere. 

If you’re one of those staying up into the wee hours of the morning by the light of your computer screen, you’ve probably thought about taking your enthusiasm for poker beyond the living room. If playing against someone on the other side of the world is part of what attracted you to online poker in the first place, then why not combine your love of poker with a holiday? A poker holiday! 

Many live poker events have online qualification paths through online satellites and promotions. Winning a seat into a live poker event via an online satellite is a great way to make that poker holiday happen and most online poker sites have satellites to some sort of live event. 

Let’s see which locations have made our list of the best Poker Holiday Destinations:

1. Las Vegas, Nevada | United States

At the top of our list is the one and only Las Vegas. Situated in the US state of Nevada, this is the poker vacation that dreams are made of. It is said that Las Vegas reinvents itself every few years, so even if you have been before, it could be quite different now, with old casinos being torn down and replaced by new ones on an ongoing basis.

Las Vegas hosts the World Series of Poker every summer and with it recently moving from the Rio to the Horseshoe/Paris casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, poker once again has centerstage in the city of sin. You can qualify to play at the WSOP via exclusive satellites at GGPoker.

Although the number of Vegas casinos with poker rooms has gone down in recent years, there are still 19 casinos in the city with poker rooms. With the Bellagio, Wynn and Aria all close to the WSOP’s new homes, the Las Vegas Strip has a lot to offer for the poker tourist. 

You should also consider taking a trip downtown to see Binion’s Horseshoe Casino, where the WSOP first started over 50 years ago. Binion’s no longer has a poker room, but it’s well worth taking in the history and catching a glimpse of Vegas from times gone by. Aside from the poker, Las Vegas is quite simply one of the most incredible places on earth – as surreal as it is enthralling, an adult playground for sure.

2. Barcelona, Catalonia | Spain

Barcelona has become the premier poker destination in Europe, consistently holding the largest poker tournaments on the continent. The World Poker Tour, Party Poker and the European Poker Tour host some of their largest events at Casino Barcelona, situated near the beach and Port Olympic. 

A poker holiday to Barcelona will offer the perfect mix bluff and culture. Even when there is not a major live event taking place, the casino has a sizeable and active all- year-round poker room, with cash games and tournaments running daily. Test your skill at No Limit Hold’em in the poker room or try your luck gambling on the roulette, baccarat and blackjack table games within the casino. 

Barcelona is also a great place for a family holiday, giving your loved ones the chance to enjoy wonderful art, majestic architecture, and some of the best food in Europe...while you’re at the tables spinning it up!

3. RozVegas and Prague | Czech Republic 

Rozvadov a tiny village in the Czech Republic, near the border with Germany, and hosts the biggest poker casino in Europe, with over 200 poker tables. Art collector and high-stakes poker player Leon Tsoukernik, who owns the property, has steadily built King's Casino into the poker marvel that it is today. A luxury 4-star hotel is situated on-site, there’s a 24-hour buffet and the casino is decorated lavishly. The casino’s salon privée has impressionist paintings adorning its walls and there’s an enormous original Andy Warhol piece in the casino reception. 

And if you’re lucky enough to get an invite to have lunch at Leon’s house, odds are you’ll be travelling there in a helicopter piloted by Leon himself, departing from the casino’s helipad. So, if you are in Rozvadov or RozVegas, as it is affectionately known by its patrons, the chances are you are there to play poker. 

The casino hosts poker festivals pretty much non-stop throughout the year. Over the last decade it has become the permanent home of the World Series of Poker Europe and hosts several other major tours including Party Poker Millions, the WPT, 888 Live, the Eureka Poker Tour and many more. Even if one of these premier poker events is not on, there will be some kind of big tournament on for sure and dozens of cash games, including No Limit Texas Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha tables. 

Rozvadov is not the only poker destination in the Czech Republic. Every year in early December the European Poker Tour takes place at the King’s Casino Prague, in the Hilton Hotel. One of Europe’s greatest capitals, Prague hosts the second biggest EPT event of the year (after Barcelona) and you can qualify through online satellites at PokerStars. Awash with history and culture, fantastic architecture and great food, it’s a surprisingly cheap city and can be easily enjoyed without hurting the wallet.

4. Malta 

Situated in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, just a few miles south of Sicily, Malta has recently become one of Europe’s most popular poker destinations. With over 300 days of sunshine a year and thousands of years of culture and history, Malta is a great place to enjoy both at and away from the tables. 

Over the last decade, the Battle of Malta event has emerged as the largest of the low-to-mid-stakes tournaments in Europe. Taking place every October, the €550 buy-in main event has grown from just 359 players in 2012 to 4,329 players in 2022. In addition, The Malta Poker Festival and the Unibet Open also take place in Malta every year, as do several other poker events. Outside of these festivals, cash games and daily tournaments are available at three of the island’s four casinos.

5. Texas I USA 

Over the last few years Texas has emerged as the fastest-growing poker destination on the planet. Poker Clubs have existed in Texas for several years, despite gambling being illegal in the Lone Star State. 

They exist due to a loophole in the law, which enables poker clubs to operate as long as they don’t charge rake. They do however charge members by the hour to be at the club. The number of poker rooms has boomed in Texas in recent years, just a few years ago there were no more than a dozen such poker clubs operating but now there are over 60 - more than any other state, apart from California. 

The number of poker rooms in California has been in decline for many years, so Texas could soon become the largest poker state in the US. It’s not all rosy, however, as Texas poker venues face constant threats of closure with some local authorities seeking to close the loophole that allows them to exist. 

An impending Texas Supreme Court ruling will soon determine the future of all Texas poker clubs. If poker in Texas manages to survive the existential threats to the local industry, it could become a popular destination for poker tourists looking to play in the state that the most popular variant, Texas Hold'em, is named after. 

6. United Kingdom

There are lots of great poker venues all across the UK and so it’s not just London that we consider a great place to visit for a poker holiday. For sure, the capital has the most venues in the country and there are several notable casinos where poker is played all day, every day. 

Leicester Square in the heart of the city hosts the Empire Casino and the Hippodrome Casino, both great places to play cash games. The Grosvenor Victoria Casino on Edgware Rd is the place to go for relatively low stake, high-gain tournaments and also for cash games. ‘The Vic’, as it is known to regulars has been a poker venue for decades and is still one of the busiest rooms in the city, despite not being located right in the centre. Aspers Casino is the other major poker venue in the capital and well worth visiting, being situated within one of the biggest shopping centres in the country, Westfield Stratford. 

Outside of London, Nottingham is home to the UK’s largest poker venue. Dusk Till Dawn is the brainchild of entrepreneur and high-stakes poker player Rob Yong and has been a venue for major events since it opened in 2007. There’s no shortage of poker festivals in the UK, with the long-established Grosvenor UK Poker Tour taking place in a different venue each month and Dusk Till Dawn running several major events per year. 

UK poker festivals cater to players with different bankrolls, so there is usually something for everyone at one of these events. The highlight of the year for most players is the GUKPT Goliath, which is the largest low buy-in tournament in the world and the biggest live poker tournament outside of Vegas. It takes place at the G Casino in Coventry every August and costs just £150 to enter. 

The 2022 GUKPT Goliath had a record-breaking 10,584 entries, creating a total prize pool of £1.27m and £200k to the winner. You can qualify online for all GUKPT events at Grosvenor Poker. Boxer David Haye helped to promote this tournament in 2019 with a ‘David v Goliath’ promotion. Haye competed in the event after being coached on how to play poker by fellow heavyweight champ Audley Harrison, resulting in a remarkable 40th-place finish (out of 9,300 entrants).

7. Cyprus 

Another Mediterranean island now firmly on the poker destination map is Cyprus. The island has quietly been hosting international poker tournaments for many years, such as the World Poker Tour (WPT). 

In recent years the island has had an increase in major poker tours taking place there, most notably the Triton Series of high-roller poker events. In 2022 Cyprus took its poker ambitions to the next level when the Mediterranean Poker Party took up summer residence at the new Merit Royal Diamond Hotel & Casino in Kyrenia, which features one of the largest poker rooms in the world. 

The three-week poker extravaganza included main events targeting mid-stakes, high- stakes and super-high-stakes players and looks set to become a permanent fixture on the European poker calendar. The combination of poker, nightly parties and beach time is a winner!

8. Dublin I Ireland 

As well as being a wonderful city to enjoy the world-renowned ‘craic’, Dublin frequently hosts great poker events. There are no legal casinos in the Irish capital, but poker tournaments are allowed with the permission of the local authorities and the Garda (Irish police). Most of these take place in one of two venues: the Bonnington Hotel or the Green Isle Hotel. 

The Irish Poker Tour makes frequent stops in the capital, as does the Dublin Poker Series. For players with bigger bankrolls, the UK & Ireland Poker Tour run by PokerStars frequents Dublin once a year. But the most anticipated event on the Irish poker calendar is the Irish Open, which is the longest-running poker tournament in Europe, having first been staged in 1980. 

Considered an absolute must on the international poker calendar, it always attracts a stellar crowd. In 2023 it took place at the RDS in Ballsbridge with a total of 2491 entries and a prize pool of almost €2.5m. The first prize of €365,000 was won by PokerStars online qualifier David Docherty, who won his seat via a €109 satellite.

9. France 

France has more casinos than any other country in Europe and a lot of them have poker rooms. Paris, the city of lovers is also a city for poker lovers. There are several poker venues in the city, offering a wide choice of cash games and tournaments on a daily basis. 

Although the iconic and much-loved Aviation Club de Paris on the Champs Elysee is now closed, the key poker venues in the city now are Club Pierre Charon with 40 tables, Club Circus de Paris and Club Montmartre. All these poker clubs hold poker festivals as well as catering to local players. 

There are also several other poker clubs in Paris where Texas Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha cash tables can be found. In fact, across France, there are dozens of poker festivals taking place every year - more than in any other country in Europe. 

Visiting cities like Cannes or Deauville, where you can have a beachside holiday in a glamorous location is even better when combined with a bit of poker. There is usually some poker event every weekend somewhere in France and there are plenty of online qualifying satellite options at Unibet Poker

10. Los Angeles, California | United States

While not as prominent as its used to be, Los Angeles is still a major poker hub, with six large poker rooms to choose from. A poker vacation to the Californian city of LA combines Hollywood glamour, sun-drenched beaches and some good old-fashioned gambling. 

Coming in for a special mention is the Commerce Casino, reportedly the “world’s largest poker casino” with over 240 card tables for you to choose from. Hustler Casino is the home of the weekly “Hustler Live” televised cash game, which live streams to tens of thousands of viewers each week, often featuring famous players such as Phil Hellmuth, Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan.

If you fancy a break from the felt and have been lucky at the tables, the shops on Rodeo Drive are just about the best around, whilst Disneyland or a visit to the Hollywood Walk of Fame for some celebrity stars are other options.

11. Melbourne, Victoria | Australia

Heading even further far afield, Melbourne just makes our top 12 list of top poker holiday destinations. Ten years ago, it was more highly rated as a poker destination, with the Crown Casino Melbourne home of the Aussie Millions for many years.

Taking place in January each year until 2020, coinciding with the Australian Open Tennis Grand Slam event, it had always been regarded highly as a poker holiday destination. However, the Coronavirus pandemic resulted in Crown Casino closing its poker room and suspending the Aussie Millions and its other major festivals. 

Poker is now resuming at the Crown, however, major events have yet to reappear. Let's hope they do because Melbourne is a great city to enjoy away from the tables as well, with some of the best restaurants in the country and second-to-none nightlife.

12. Monte Carlo | Monaco

Finally, Monte Carlo – the original home of upmarket gambling and perhaps the most glamorous place on earth. Whether you’re interested in the history of casinos or just a big fan of James Bond, this is where it all started. 

As far as poker goes, there isn’t actually that much going on in Monte Carlo, except for one week each year in May, when PokerStars runs the EPT and France Poker Series at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort. Outside of this week, you might find one or two poker tables running if you’re lucky. But as it’s such an iconic location for poker, it has just managed to fill the last place on our list.

The city itself is well worth visiting, whether there’s any poker taking place or not. Head there in May for the most famous F1 race in the sport’s history. Peruse the charming, money-soaked streets (the cleanest in the world) or sample one of Monaco’s many beaches and world-famous restaurants.

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Updated by GDC - Icon - Black - Info

Jonathan Raab

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