Since its founding in 2002 by American attorney and television producer Steven Lipscomb, the World Poker Tour (WPT) has hosted over 100 poker tournament series in cities all over the world. Though poker friendly locales such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City have understandly been the most common destinations, the WPT has also put on events in Barcelona, Cyprus, and Paris. Despite this inter-continental precedent, there is one very notable city that has never been home to a WPT tournament.
Until now. The WPT is currently hosting its inaugural London event at Mayfair's Palm Beach Casino--which, regardless of what the name suggests, is located in England's capital and not South Florida. The 5,000 Euro championship event spans five days, of which three are already in the books. There is also a 15,000 Euro high roller's event that kicks off on September 3rd.
Despite this being the first stop in London for the WPT, the city has always had a thriving poker culture, with nearly two dozen different casinos and card clubs. Additionally, London is the home of Betfair, the world's largest Internet betting exchange. Betfair maintains an online poker room allied with the OnGame network, and sponsors several top players, including Peter Jepsen and Annette Obrestad. The WPT's PokerStars-sponsored rival circuit, the EPT, has hosted numerous events there in cooperation with the city's Gosvenor Victoria Casino. Many well-known poker professionals call London their home, including Roland de Wolfe, Devilfish Ulliott, and Luke Schwartz.
Schwartz, known online as "__FullFlush1__" on Full Tilt Poker has become somewhat of an infamous figure due to his controversial oponions and oversized ego. In a well publicized incident during the 2009 EPT season, he walked out of a Grosvenor casino cafe with a sandwich that he refused to pay for. Unsurprisingly, casino staff disagreed with Schwartz's view that he should be allowed to eat gratis, and the fuming "customer" was bounced from the premises. In the absence of any real information, rumors of penalties swirled on the internet. Some said that he was banned from playing any events in the remaining EPT season, while others claimed that he was now blacklisted from all UK casinos. If such a blacklist does exist, it appears his name has been lifted from it. Schwartz was among the 171 hopefuls who threw down 5,000 Euro for a spot in the championship event.
Schwartz is also lucky to count himself as one of the 39 players still in contention for the top prize after two day ones and a merged day two. He is sitting on a stack of 92,500. Other notable pros among those left in the field are fellow Brit Richard Ashby, with 140,000 in chips, and Full Tilt Poker pro Huckleberry Seed, with 162,700. Play will resume tomorrow at 12 p.m. London time, and continue until a final table is reached.
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