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Cross the Pond to Play with Some of the New Big Boys

International Poker Scene Switches Back On in September


Harrah’s hailed the record of 118 different countries represented at this year’s World Series of Poker as seminal for the world of poker, and it indeed serves as another watermark as the popularity of poker increases on a global scale.

Good poker tournament players who honed their games outside of the United States aren’t necessarily a new thing. Just search’s player database for “Nguyen” to see all of the successful players that came to the U.S. from Vietnam and won championships and it is easy to see that poker crossed cultural barriers long ago. But like two of the most famous players carrying that surname, Scotty and Men, most of the players immigrated to the U.S. and learned the game here, specifically in Southern California cardrooms.

More than a handful of the players who mastered the game in their homelands has made a mark on the tournament circuit in the last decade or so, players like Humberto Brenes (Costa Rica), 2001 WSOP champ Carlos Mortensen (Spain), Harry Demetriou (UK), 1990 WSOP champ Mansour Matloubi (Iran, currently living in UK), Andrew Black (Ireland), and, most recently, 2005 WSOP champ Joe Hachem (Australia).

The global push is fueled by online poker sites, poker television, and the U.S. federal government’s decision to pursue laws to rid the country of online gaming, which caused the sites to refocus their marketing powers on customers located in countries friendly to online gambling.

As a result, we now know the names Dario Minieri (Italy), Annette Obrestad (Norway), Alex Kravchenko (Russia), Max Pescatori (Italy), Philip Hilm (UK via Denmark), and Bertrand Grospellier (France), just to name a few.

Now these players don’t have far to travel to play in major-league events. It’s only been a few years since major tournament poker was solely an American thing. Not anymore, as the schedule of upcoming International event tells us.

PokerStars has it figured out: Run international tournaments that can be filled, in part, by online qualifiers. They now run three poker tours, the European Poker Tour (EPT), the Asia-Pacific Poker Tour (APPT), and the Latin American Poker Tour (LAPT).

Poker tournaments return on an international level with an LAPT stop in Uruguay Aug. 7-9. The buy-in is $2,500. It’s the final LAPT event scheduled for 2008.

There are five APPT events in 2008, and two of those take place in September. First, the APPT head to Macau Sept. 1-9, when two events will take place: A six-day event with a buy-in of approximately $3,200 and a “high rollers” event with a buy-in of around $19,250 (depending on exchange rates).

Then the APPT hits Seoul, Korea, Sept. 26-28, for a $2,870 (approximately) buy-in event.

The EPT also returns to action in September with the first event of nine of its fifth season, which ends May 2009. The EPT Barcelona Open takes place Sept. 10-14 and carries an €8,000 buy-in.

The WSOP hits London for the second straight year of the WSOP Europe series in September. The four-event series starts Sept. 19 and runs until Sept. 27. It takes place at three different London Clubs International casinos located there.