Russia is among countries currently seeing an uptick in live poker activity following the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020. In the tournament front in particular, a number of major festivals have taken place in the country over the past few months, with the popular Casino Sochi hosting most of the action.
Live Poker Action Continues at Casino Sochi
Casino Sochi is considered the busiest live poker hub in Russia. It is located in the Krasnaya Polyana region which houses the Sochi gambling zone, one of five designated gambling zones in the country where casinos are allowed to run poker and other casino games for both domestic and foreign customers.
Casino Sochi first opened its doors in 2017, and since then it has become one of the top destinations for live poker action, not just in Russia but throughout Europe. In recent years, a number of prominent international poker brands, including the European Poker Tour, World Poker Tour, PokerStars Live, partypoker LIVE, 888Live, and Triton Poker have partnered with the venue to run their flagship tournaments.
Like all other casino establishments all over the world, Casino Sochi temporarily closed its doors in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Tournaments scheduled to take place at the venue have also been suspended as a result. Now, it’s safe to say that live poker action is back at the casino, with events taking place at the venue every other month since the start of the year.
Back in February, Casino Sochi hosted WPT Russia. The festival ran from February 19-28, featuring 14 events, in partnership with partypoker. After 10 days of action, the festival awarded almost $2 million in prizes after attracting over 1,700 players.
Then on March 19, PokerStars headed to the same venue for EPT Sochi, the first and currently the only EPT live event so far this year. The series ran for over a week, headlined by the RUB175,000 EPT Sochi Main Event which drew a huge 852-entry field, almost the same size as the inaugural event in 2018 which attracted 861 entries.
PokerStars is set to return to the venue for its next live series, the EPT Open, scheduled for October. The festival includes a $1,850 Main Event, and satellites to this event will run on PokerStars’ global client.
But before that, Casino Sochi will play host to the Sochi Poker Festival this June. 888Live will then run its own Sochi festival from July 17 to 26, which will culminate in the RUB62,160 ($888) 888Live Sochi Main Event which gets underway on July 21. Players may check out the 888poker global client for satellite details.
The WPT will also return to Casino Sochi to run its popular mid-stakes series, WPTDeepStacks. There’s no final schedule yet as of the moment, but the series could take place in August. Another edition of the Sochi Poker Festival is also set to take place at the same venue in September.
Poker Club Management
All of these information are available on the Poker Club Management (PCM) website. PCM has been organizing international live poker events since 2017, in partnership with major poker brands and venues in Russia.
The Moscow-based company, owned by Artur Voskanyan, founded the Eurasian Poker Tour (EAPT). The tour is currently running an event at the Altai Palace Casino located in the Siberan Coin gambling zone, another poker hotspot in Russia.
While major tournaments have already returned to Russia, the same thing cannot be said for the entire European region, with most countries still imposing restrictions on live events.
In general, live poker is slowly making a comeback, all over the world, especially in the US where a number of casinos are already offering poker games without restrictions. Players are looking forward to the World Series of Poker live event, which will kick off at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in September. The massive event is expected to be held under “normal” conditions without limitations.