London’s Alternative Poker Venues

04 Dec 2014

Poker players in London are spoilt for choice, and there is no need for a trip to the casino in order to enjoy this great game. Regular poker meet-ups happen across the city, so there are many different options for players to choose from. London pubs, clubs and even universities have become adept at hosting these games, so the city is littered with numerous venues where you can enjoy a hand or two.

Pub Poker

Poker tournaments have become a popular pub feature, and there are numerous venues in and around London that offer weekly or monthly games. You can round up your friends or you can join like-minded people in pubs for a sociable game that can be enjoyed by seasoned or new players, and these pub poker games can offer some large payouts. Popular locations include The Gable in Moorgate, The Apple Tree in Mount Pleasant and Clerkenwell House in Farringdon. Weekly games are held at all of these establishments, and they offer a relaxed and enjoyable environment for all card players.

Pub Poker may be seen as entirely recreational but some notable pros have transferred their success from the bars onto the major stage. Australian Daniel Marton started out in this way before landing 2nd place in the WSOP APAC at a cool $600K while Pat Simcoe is another former pub player who earned nearly $100k for a 3rd placed finish at UKIPT London in 2013.

University Poker

Many London universities have created poker clubs or societies that play regular games, and these events are often not restricted to students but are open to everyone. A good understanding of the rules is required when playing these games as they move fast, and the players, although amateur, tend be relatively experienced. The Warwick University Poker Society, the UCLU Poker Society at the University College London Union and the Cambridge and University of Essex Poker Societies all host regular games both on campus and in surrounding venues, and members and non-members are invited to play.

The biggest success story as far as university poker players is concerned is Viktor Blom, who honed his craft in the college halls before going on to become one of the best professionals in the world and an ambassador for Full Tilt Poker, one of poker’s biggest online sites.

Café Poker

Cafe poker, or poker played in restaurants, is actually surprisingly common and there are many London venues that host poker nights or tournaments. Phibbers in Holloway Road hosts a weekly NL Hold’em game on Mondays and the upstairs restaurant lets you grab a bite to eat in-between games. At Steak and Ale House North Nineteen in Holloway a regular Wednesday night game takes place. There are also several Soho restaurants and cafes that host regular poker nights and even the Soho Hotel offer players the chance of a regular buy-in.

London Poker Meet-Up

London Poker Meet-Up has over 1700 members and is one of the best-run poker communities in the UK. Anyone can join in the games that are held at pubs, restaurants and private homes, and there are meet-ups scheduled weekly all across London. The LPM calendar illustrates where and when games are held, making joining a casual poker event possible and facilitating an organised and enjoyable experience for all levels of player. By regulating games and formalising the meet-ups, LPM have created a stable, ever-growing scene that offers an alternative to gaming rooms and casinos in London.

This is another event to spawn some highly successful players including UK pro James Mitchell who went on to claim a major triumph at the Irish Open.

Alternative poker venues make for great entertainment in casual and relaxed atmospheres, and with pub and café poker becoming even more popular, we can expect to see tournaments crop up on a more regular basis all across England. Although these events may be sporadic, they offer like-minded individuals the chance to make the transition from home games to an environment that’s not quite as pressurised as a casino and is perhaps more accessible.