Europe and the United States are considered by many the two economic poles of the world. This also holds true for poker.
Outside Las Vegas, many of the world’s flashiest, most elite gambling centers are located on the Old Continent – think of Monte Carlo, for example. If you want to be specific about venues, the most important ones for poker are King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic, Casino Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain, or Casino Sochi in Sochi, Russia. Casino Austria is one of the biggest casino chains in the world with 48 casinos in 16 different countries.
The first WSOP Europe, held in London in 2007, was the first time ever that the World Series of Poker put on events outside Las Vegas. The WSOPE has been held annually ever since. London has another important role in poker history: the biggest buy-in poker tournament ever, the £1.050 million buy-in Triton Million was held at the London Hilton on Park Lane Grand Ballroom.
In November 2019, Triton Poker also hosted a crazy high stakes cash game, a €2,000/€4,000/€4,000 No Limit Hold’em game at the Maestral Resort & Casino in Pržno, Montenegro. The Balkan country of Montenegro is also an important location in poker fiction. In the 2006 action movie Casino Royale, one of the most recognizable characters in cinema history, James Bond, travels to a fictional casino in Montenegro to defeat an evil banker in a $10 million Hold’em tournament.
The European Poker Tour is one of the most prestigious tournament series out there. In fact, along with a WSOP gold bracelet and a World Poker Tour trophy, an EPT title makes up what’s called a “Triple Crown” in poker. Only 9 players in poker history have victories in all of the biggest 3 poker tourney series in the world. The EPT’s most anticipated stop every year is in Barcelona, usually held in August.
The European Poker Championship, often called Poker EM for short, is another major European poker festival which takes place annually at Casino Velden in Velden, Austria.
In comparison to the United States, Europe does fair in one important aspect of poker: online poker. While only a handful of US states allow locals to legally play cards on the internet, most European countries do. The European Union often puts pressure on member states that ban online gambling, but especially on countries that try to make their online gambling market a state monopoly.
Niklas Astedt from Sweden, better known by his PokerStars screen name Lena900, has won more money in online poker tournaments than any other player in the world, a whopping $21.840 million. His fellow Swede Martin Jacobson won the WSOP Main event in 2014. Germany can boast two Main Event champs: Pius Heinz won in 2011, and Hossein Ensan won in 2019. Noel “J. J.” Furlong from Ireland was the first European player to claim poker’s most coveted title in 1999. Peter Eastgate from Denmark won it in 2008.