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Dutch News

Poker in the Netherlands

by Anthon-Pieter Wink |  Published: Dec 01, 2006

Ministry of Justice
A few months before the general elections, the resignation of Justice Minister Donner came as a surprise for the poker community in the Netherlands. It was a welcome surprise, however.

Donner's ministry was traditionally not in favour of a free gambling market, and at the same time, it saw poker purely as a game of chance. With upcoming governmental elections in November, things are bound to change, as it is impossible Donner will be given the same job after having to resign. By the time this issue of Card Player Europe is in stores, the outcome of the elections will give us an idea of whether the poker scene in the Netherlands will be haunted further by the Ministry of Justice.

On a related topic, luckily, in the Netherlands, no bills can be passed just for being stapled to the back of a completely unrelated bill.

Online Poker Ban in the U.S.
The changed legal status of the suppliers of online poker in the United States, and the poker rooms therefore missing thousands of American players, did not go unnoticed in the Netherlands. The major complaint in the forum on is that regular players are missing a lot of action. Bookmarked fish have disappeared and players' buddy lists are now sometimes depleted at certain poker rooms. Although this was a highly overrated strategy, it seems that there will be less "getting up early to catch the drunk Americans" for a while.

The Everest Poker European Championship was held in Barcelona this fall. The event welcomed 100 players from all around Europe to decide which player would be crowned European champion this year. All players qualified through freeroll tournaments held in various venues in their respective countries, or online. The Dutch local tournaments drew great crowds - they must have been free - and in the end, there was some success for the Benelux; Kenny Hallaert, Belgian player and administrator of took third place.

More news from Belgium: organized a national poker event in which teams of Belgian players (and a few Dutchies) could earn money for charitable organizations. Players were divided into teams according to the areas where they lived, and could suggest their own charitable organizations. The event was visited by Belgian celebrities and Marc Naalden, a Dutch poker pro who did well in the World Series of Poker this year. Poker4charity, also sponsored by Everest Poker, was a playful way to draw attention to our game in Belgium. It helped establish poker as a mental game rather than gambling. This is something the Justice Department in Belgium generally has a lot of trouble with (see my column in Card Player Europe, August 2006), and events such as these help alter the image of poker for the better.

Dutch Championship of Poker
From now on, someone is finally keeping track of the results of practically all tournaments that are being played in the Netherlands. At, you can find an official tournament ranking, but you can also just about find out who finished third in that single-table poker tournament at your cousin's kitchen table last week. According to weighted results in ranked tournaments - which are so far only the tournaments organized by Holland Casino - one can obtain and uphold a ranking. The top finishers every three months and every year will receive a cash prize. The player who is ranked highest at the end of the year will be crowned Dutch champion of poker. Although this is a title that can be won in quite a few events these days, the administrators of seem to have found a valid way of determining the best tournament players in the Netherlands.

Poker Event
Happenings such as poker4charity and the NK Poker prove that the poker scene in the Benelux is flourishing as never before. Another example is that poker enthusiasts from the Netherlands organized a low-scale poker event, planned for the first week of December. As they were overtaken with reactions and applications for stands, they decided poker was already too big for their venue and rescheduled the whole event for the spring of 2007. It promises to become the first Dutch poker lifestyle event, whatever that may be. I hope they will not be selling bedspreads with royal flushes printed on them, but it promises to be a good initiative and will certainly bring poker players from all around the Netherlands together. We will keep you posted. spade

Anthon-Pieter Wink is a writer for