Best Places To Play Live Poker In London
Poker players in London have plenty of options when it comes to live games, and many of the 23 london casinos offer some kind of poker action. As well as the casinos, there is also a growing trend of pubs and snooker halls running low stake social games.
But where is the best place to play poker in London? Our writers, who are no strangers to the felt, have come up with this handy guide:
'The Vic' - The Grosvenor Victoria
150-162 Edgware Road, London, W2 2DT
Located about a five minute walk from Edgeware Road tube station, The Grosvenor Victoria (affectionately referred to as 'The Vic') is the undisputed daddy of London poker. The card room is located upstairs and is by far the largest in the capital.
Part of the Grosvenor group of casinos, players must register before entering the casino. Registration is free and is done once for the entire group, not per casino. If you originally registered at a different Grosvenor, you will need to swap your current membership card at the desk for one that can be used in the card room.
Cash games run 24 hours a day and blinds start at just £1-£1. Whilst the rake at these levels may seem eye wateringly high compared to online games, they are actually the best low-stake rates in town - 10% capped at £5. At the £1-£2 level the rake drops to 5% with a £10 cap, and for games of £2-£5 and over the rake is taken as a half-hourly fee.
As well as cash games, The Vic run tournaments every evening with an additional afternoon game at the weekends. It is also the home to many large poker events such as the GUKPT, the EPT and the WHUP.
Regular players can try and make it into the monthly top 100 (based on number of active days) to win a seat in the loyalty freeroll and have a stab at the £40k+ pot.
'The Fox' - The Fox Poker Club
93-107 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, W1D 5DY
Located on Shaftsbury Avenue, and a stones throw from Leicester Square, China Town and Soho, the Fox has an enviable location. It is, however, a members only club which means you have to pay a £10 joining fee and do a bit of paper work before you can hit the tables.
The Fox runs cash games 24 hours a day, although the volume and availability of games is far less than that of The Vic. The real reason people come to the fox are the tournaments, which are held three times a day. Whilst some poker rooms struggle to find players for their tournaments, The Fox struggle to find enough seats for the players who want to participate.
The games are dealer dealt and entries costs are normally between £10 and £250 plus a £5 registration fee (or 10% of the entry, whichever is greater). Most tournaments are in the wallet friendly £20 - £40 range and attract a lot of regulars.
'The Empire' - The Casino At The Empire
5-6 Leicester Square, London, WC2H 7NA
The Empire is located slap bang on Leicester Square in the former ballroom of the Empire Cinema and for a short while held the title of largest casino in London. The poker room is among the nicest we've ever seen - primarily because of the incredibly comfortable reclining leather chairs, which makes a huge difference at the end of a long session.
Registration is not required at this casino as The Empire operate a walk-in policy, but there are advantages to becoming a member, mainly through the accumulation of loyalty points as you play.
Cash games start at £1-£2 with a 5% rake (£10 cap) and go upwards from there. The Empire is also the only brick and mortar casino we know of in central London to offer a bad beat jackpot - which is paid out if a hand of four twos or greater loses. At time of writing this jackpot was over £55,000 and has previous reached nearly a quarter of a million pounds (£222,335).
Regular players can also participate in the cash race - where the top 45 players (based on playing time) compete to win a share of the Cash Race pot. In addition to this, all players earn points whilst playing cash games, which can be spent in the bar or restaurant.
The folks at the Empire certainly have asperations for tournaments, but their players seem more interested in the cash games than anything else. The 4pm scheduled start times for their daily tournaments probably aren't doing them any favours either, though this is most likely because they want the tables back to use in the evening cash games.