In a sudden move, Russian government officials essentially banned the game of poker after removing its designation as a “sport”, which has had a domino-like effect on the game elsewhere.
On July 1st, Russia enacted a law that basically outlawed all casinos and poker clubs in the nation, save for four special zones that are allowed to build casinos (but haven’t as of yet). After thousands of clubs opened after poker was declared a sport in Russia in 2007, the law – pushed by former Russian president and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin – looked to close that loophole. It is estimated that nearly 400,000 jobs were lost as a result of the new law taking effect.
The law also has forced changes in other areas of the poker world. PokerStars, who was looking to making a trip to Moscow for the first event of their sixth season of the European Poker Tour on August 18th, was forced to change locales for the tournament. Fortunately, the Sport Palace Kiev in Kiev, Ukraine, was able to step up and take over the first date of the EPT Season Six. It will mark the first official poker tournament in the Ukraine.
PokerStars issued a press release which stated that, “The Kiev event replaces the previously-scheduled 2009 Russian Open poker tournament due to be held at the Radisson SAS Slavyanskaya, Moscow from August 18-23, 2009. That event has been canceled because our ability to run the event was placed in doubt due to the recent closure of all casinos in Russia.” PokerStars also is allowing those who have won their seat packages to the Russian tournament to either head for the Kiev tournament, buy in to a later EPT event or receive a cash equivalent.
The EPT’s sixth season is not completely set, but there is a solid schedule of events up through its traditional January visit to the Bahamas for the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. The schedule so far looks like this:
EPT Kiev (Ukraine): August 18th to 23rd
Buy-In: €5,000
Capacity: 600
Venue: Sports Palace Kiev
EPT Barcelona (Spain): September 4th to 9th
Buy-In: €8,300
Capacity: 700
Venue: Casino Barcelona
EPT London (United Kingdom): October 2nd to 7th
Buy-In: ₤5,250
Capacity: 800
Venue: Hilton London Metropole
EPT Warsaw (Poland): October 20th to 25th
Buy-In: 25,000K PLN
Capacity: 400
Venue: Casinos Poland
EPT Vilamoura (Portugal): November 17th to 22nd
Buy-In: €5,300
Capacity: 600
Venue: Vilamoura Casino
EPT Prague (Czech Republic): December 1st to 6th
Buy-In: €5,250
Capacity: 600
Venue: Golden Prague Poker
PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (Bahamas): January 4th to 14th
Buy-In: $10,600
Capacity: 1,600
Venue: Atlantis Hotel and Casino
The EPT’s sixth season will conclude in April with its traditional Grand Final played out in Monte Carlo.

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