Next month London is set to be transformed into Las Vegas, complete with a boxing champion, as the London Poker Festival, the world’s biggest poker festival, takes place, the showpiece event being Poker in the Park, including a Bodog-sponsored poker dome, on the 2nd and 3rd September in London’s Leicester Square.
So who should we find in Leicester Square mingling between film premieres, whilst sharing an ice cream at Rendezvous, than media whore, and the man putting on the event, Bluff Europe’s Michael Caselli, who’s understandably excited at the prospect of upwards of 20,000 people rocking up.
“We get people coming from all over the country – some of the leagues come down by the bus-load. People have even flown in from America, India, so it’s got a good global appeal.”
The event is now into its fourth year and has gone from strength-to-strength with numbers growing year-on-year, but what can attendees expect to find when they stroll under Poker in the Park’s arch at the entrance to Leicester Square, apart from the beauty that is Liv Boeree?
“Basically it’s a free poker fair with pretty much everything poker that you can possibly imagine. We’ve got two tents that are spreading free sit and go’s every hour, on the hour, poker lectures with some of the biggest names from the UK and abroad, a poker tuition tent where you can improve your game. After parties are going on at Ruby Blue, live auctions from Bidibot, and also you can get poker gear from the merch tent.”
If you’re running the thing though the big question is probably how you’re going to keep up the staggering visitor numbers, that have grown ten fold since the first year.
“This year we’ve added two tents so there’s more things to do than last year, a dozen in total. Also we’ve added 50% more live sit-and-go tables so we should be able to handle the additional capacity.
“It just seems to grow, and grow, and grow. Hopefully people have a good time the year before and they know that they should come the following year and they tell their friends. So I think a lot has to do with that.”
Obviously one of the star attractions at this year’s event will be the presence of Evander Holyfield, courtesy of Real Deal Poker, who you’ll be able to go head-to-head with in the middle of the event itself, and attempt to knock out the champ, which is far from the only without equal aspect to this year’s event.
“I think a boxing ring in the middle of Leicester Square’s pretty unique – the Evander thing’s going to be great. Bodog’s got loads of tables, and are apparently creating the inside of the tent to look like the Las Vegas city-scape, so that should look really wild and be fantastic. Bidibot’s got a live auction site – a penny auction that auctions off tournament chips, poker chips, credits at different sites, seats in tournaments, and they’re going to have a live auctioneer down here. Victory Poker has a pretty unique concept – basically they’ve got some heads up play and if the loser of the heads up match chooses he can either go in the dunk tank and be dunked himself or choose one of the Victory Poker models to be dunked for him – so that’s kind of weird and wonderful.”
As mentioned earlier, Bodog is sponsoring one of the two poker domes that will be dominating the tree-line of Leicester Square for two days come September, and as an online site, Caselli explains the difference it can make to the customer base
“If you want to give a real experience to your players, something that’s tangible and something you really can’t do as an online site normally, then Poker in the Park is pretty much the perfect format for that. People can come down, in the Bodog case for instance, and really experience what the brand’s all about. It’s not unlike the Las Vegas World Series of Poker lifestyle show, in the sense that we just have loads of poker enthusiasts down to have a great time. The difference of course being this is outside, a little bit more fun orientated, so it’s a great way to entertain your players and thank them for being loyal members of your site.”
So, how does Michael fancy the my chances against Evander in the ring, in a bout?
“Well probably the question is how smart would that be? It would be a real bad idea, you’d have to have some pretty crazy odds for me to put money on you.”
Damn thought I really had a chance at staying unbeaten there.
How about Michael’s status as the aforementioned media whore? Surely our interview is one of thousands the supremo has given in the past week?
“I’ve been called a lot of things and that’s one of the nicer ones so I can appreciate that. We’ve done a lot of interviews actually. We’ve been on Poker Channel, just did this morning, Sky Poker the other day, so basically we’re doing tons of media. We were also in the Independent, so you’ll see more and more of this. Of course the poker websites are picking us up, and obviously it’s great to be on the tablog and on CalvinAyre.com, but we’re promoting it pretty much everywhere and I think we’re getting a great response and we’re working quite closely with Poker Europa with the entire festival”
Exactly. Media Whore!
If you require any more information on Poker in the Park or the month long London Poker Festival you can visit the respective websites at www.pokerinthepark.com and www.LondonPokerFestival.com. Otherwise CalvinAyre.com will see you up London town in September.