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Hungary for Success

by Brendan Murray |  Published: Dec 31, 2008


The European Poker Tour's recent stop in Hungary could be deemed a resounding success on several levels. In a country which had never held a major poker tournament of this size, with no TV crew filming a feature table for broadcast, to attract 532 runners is a remarkable feat.

The venue itself was a beautifully designed five-star hotel overlooking a stunning cityscape which wowed all who passed through its doors. It's a credit to the organisers who once again demonstrated the old adage that "if you build it they will come."

The field itself was as pan-European as ever with probably a higher concentration of "locals" - Italians, Hungarians, French, Germans, and Romanians - than usual. The event reached out to players in this region and they responded positively. This greatly pleased the likes of Johnny Lodden and Sorel Mizzi who both felt they had a significant edge on the field. You can read all about their experiences, as well as that English winner William Fry, in this issue.

And if you haven't been to Budapest make sure it's on your agenda for next year's EPT visit.

While recent record fields - read about the International Poker Open's record 1,300 player field in this issue also - show live tournament poker seems to be largely unaffected by the current economic turmoil. The rest of the industry remains in flux however.

Bad Business, Good Business, and Barack Obama

With recent closures including Johnny Chan Poker, Duplicate Poker, Fleet Street Games, Next Poker, and Legato Poker as well as Estonian casinos closing at an alarming rate, and 3-D software Playwize also shutting up shop things are definitely getting worse before we can contemplate them getting better.

Some rays of hope have pierced the gloomy atmosphere though. The relaxation of online poker laws in Italy has seen a swathe of operators jostle for the potentially lucrative market. British bookmaker William Hill's recent deal with Playtech will see it further bolster iPoker's liquidity and a number of other, as yet publicly unconfirmed deals, are certainly in the offing.

Elsewhere the European industry received a boost from a study showing that private gaming operators in the EU largely match or exceed the responsible gaming standards of the 10 largest gaming monopolies in the EU.

In the U.S. the pioneering World Poker Tour, which is struggling with declining revenues, received a boost in a deal with Full Tilt Poker which will see the online giant sponsor 26 TV shows in season VII.

All-in-all the climate remains volatile but potentially the best news comes in the form of U.S. President-elect Barack Obama or, more accurately, the new Democratic majority in the Senate.

Could the next four years see a regime more in tune with European attitudes towards online poker? Hope springs eternal.

To keep up-to-date with breaking poker industry news be sure to check daily as we shine a light into every corner of our diverse and exciting industry.