Despite what James Bond would have you believe, poker is more usually played in dingy rooms with beer-bellied blokes than in glittering pleasure palaces with glamourous femmes fatales. The new 12-table PokerStars Live space atop the vast Hippodrome Casino is set to change all that. It launched last night with an exhibition tournament headed by Victoria Coren, Observer columnist and $1.2m tournament winner, and Liv Boeree, astrophysics graduate, model, and $2.2m winner. And this is just the start of the London Poker Festival, March 5-16. With tournaments ranging from £100 to £5,000 entry, a top prize of about £1 million, and 2,000 players expected including some of the world’s finest, it will give London a kick up the Casino Royales. To help you along, we got some playing tips from Victoria Coren herself… Dominic Wells
‘You start with two ‘hole’ cards, and you only want to bet if they have something to do with each other: two picture cards, or both consecutive, or both the same suit.’
‘If you hit the flop (ie if the next three cards dealt improve your hole cards), take control. If it’s good enough, try raising. If it’s not, throw it away.’
‘Bluffing is all very exciting in films, but it’s not the way to play. Why not just wait to have the best hand?’
But if you do want to bluff…
‘It doesn’t matter if you get knocked out. There’s always another tournament.’
For info, see europeanpokertour.com.