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The Dusk Till Dawn Story

by Simon Trumper |  Published: Mar 01, 2007


A couple of years ago, best mates Rob Yong and Nick Whiten were driving home from their local cardroom in Nottingham, having been refused entry to a tournament for being one minute late. Nick made a throwaway comment in exasperation, "Why don't we open our own poker room?"

Now, usually a conversation would take place about the merits of owning your own cardroom, and then the subject would be forgotten; however, this time it was taken seriously and the end result was the Dusk Till Dawn.

It was decided that rather than just open a small cardroom operating without gaming board consent, Dusk Till Dawn would go legit and apply for a license, but first its premises had to be secured.

It took a year before the right place was found, ironically in their hometown of Nottingham. The requirements were a minimum of 10,000 square feet of space, substantial parking, and close to a motorway and airport. Smilin' Sam's, a disused pub/bowling alley/arcade, ticked all the boxes. It has 15,000 square feet of space, parking for 225 cars, is 10 minutes from M1 and 15 minutes from East Midlands airport, several hotels are located within three miles, and it has D2 planning for a casino.

All that was needed now was to apply for a gaming license, rip out and refit the premises, assemble a team of directors, managers, hosts, and approximately 100 staff members, and raise finances for the project of £4,000,000!

The goal of Dusk Till Dawn is to create the largest, most prestigious poker venue in Europe, all with the player in mind. With 51 tables, including a TV final table, Dusk Till Dawn will be able to host European Poker Tour and World Poker Tour events, and at least three other major festivals a year, all with either added money or guaranteed prize pools in an all-dealer-dealt, stunning environment.

I was contacted in June 2005 with a view to hosting the festivals, after the premises were secured on Dec. 10, 2005. I went up to see it on Jan. 5, 2006. I walked around, and as I imagined what the place could look like, I was sure that I wanted to be involved, but the scale of the project was going to require a commitment of five years. I agreed to be the live poker director and host, and on Jan. 6, 2007, I moved to Nottingham to prepare for the opening in April.

Originally, Dusk Till Dawn was scheduled to open in December 2006, but there was a planning problem that was resolved in August, and although everything has been done to comply with the license requirements, there is still a final meeting to attend; however, the company is now "pot-committed," and Dusk Till Dawn will open in April 2007.

In the meantime, a team has been assembled. They are Pete Langley, IT director; Simon Nowab, marketing director; Nick Whiten, facilities director; Darren Whiten, general manager; Paul "Actionjack" Jackson, online director; and Rob Goll and Daniel Bell, cardroom managers.
Nick and his team have commenced work on the club, and the progress can be viewed at

The next step was to open the online partner to Dusk Till Dawn. This is a key part of the business plan, as the intention is to make playing in Dusk Till Dawn affordable for all bankrolls, first by hosting satellites for all the festival events, but also through a unique scheme called Dusk Till Dawn Points.

On Dec. 12, 2006, in partnership with the Cryptologic platform, DTDpoker was launched with some exciting initiatives for all players. As of Jan. 1, the maximum rakeback allowed on a Cryptologic site is 30 percent. Usually this is available only through an affiliate deal; however, with DTD, all players who accumulate 1,000 MPPs in a month, which is equivalent to less than an hour a day on a £1-£2 no-limit table, will qualify for 30 percent rakeback.

Download the software at

Dusk Till Dawn will be a members-only club with an annual or daily fee; however, by playing at DTD online, all players also accrue DTD Points. Every 50 MPPs gives you £1 to spend when you visit Dusk Till Dawn; this can be used for membership fees, tournament entries, cash-table charges, food, beverages, and merchandise.

For the bigger online players who also play live (for example, EPT events), there is the DTD TOUR. This is currently comprised of all of the EPT events, the WPT event in Paris, and the main event at the World Series of Poker.

If a player chooses, he can join the DTD TOUR club, and instead of rakeback, he can build a DTD TOUR club account. From this, he can then buy in to any of the DTD TOUR events where, providing he wears the DTD clothing and does no deals, he will qualify for the following bonuses:

• Make the money and DTD will give him an additional £5,000 for another DTD TOUR event.
• Make the final and DTD will give him £20,000 toward DTD TOUR events of his choice.
• Win any DTD TOUR event and DTD will give him £100,000 worth of future DTD TOUR events (which can be taken over a three-year period).

If a player qualifies for any of the bonuses above, he can win them again in the events he chooses to play.

This has to be one of the best deals anywhere online. For all of the players who already play these events, I would imagine this will be a huge incentive to join the DTD TOUR club.

Details of the rakeback, the DTD TOUR, and DTD Points can be found at

Also playing on the DTD TOUR will be executive hosts Carlo Citrone, Kevin O'Connel, Michael Greco, and Paul Zimbler, as well as DTD Ambassador Dave Colclough.

Dusk Till Dawn and DTD aim to give the best player value and experience. The club is scheduled to open in April, there will be a DTD launch party in Copenhagen, and the DTD TOUR will kick off in Deauville.

With £4,000,000 invested by the time the club opens, there is no doubt in my mind that Dusk Till Dawn will quickly fill a gap in the market. With the explosion in poker in recent years, Europe has needed a prestigious purpose-built poker club catering to all bankrolls that looks spectacular and has the technology and attention to detail in every department, from the quality of the 51 tables to the number of plasma screens, and from the uniformity of the dealers to player-friendly structures and payouts.

When the club opens, it will initially operate four days a week, with Rob Goll and Daniel Bell, the two cardroom managers, running mostly no-limit hold'em freezeout tournaments and a range of cash games. The inaugural festival is currently planned for June; however, players won't have to wait until then for the first big event, as Cryptologic has agreed to guarantee a monthly event at 200 times the buy-in, which will usually be a £500 no-limit freezeout; thus, players can look forward to playing in a regular £100,000-guaranteed event.

Although DTD will have a full casino license, it will not have casino games, to keep the money in the poker community.

Dusk Till Dawn has been talked about all over Europe for more than a year now. To join, go to

And remember the first time you see it that it all started with Nick saying, "Why don't we open our own poker room?"

We're looking forward to welcoming you to Dusk Till Dawn. spade