WSOPE Will Return to Czech Republic in 2018, Despite Player Distaste for King’s Casino Owner

The World Series of Poker Europe debuted at King’s Casino Rozvadov, Europe’s largest poker room, and despite controversies surrounding the venue’s owner, Leon Tsoukernik, the WSOPE will return in 2018.

King’s Casino is Europe’s biggest poker room and situated roughly two hours’ drive from Prague and Munich. The venue offers a full casino, two restaurants, hotel, and great poker action 24/7. (Image: WSOP)

The 2018 WSOPE will take place in the Czech Republic from Oct. 11 to Nov. 2 and offer 10 bracelet events. The exact schedule has yet to be released, and officials did not say which event is being cut from the slate of tournaments.

They did reveal, however, that the Main Event will be filmed for television, while all other bracelet events will feature both live reporting and live stream coverage. It’s also expected that the 2018 WSOPE will be the last chance for players to earn points in the WSOP Player of the Year race.

Building on 2017 Success

The 2017 WSOPE at King’s Casino consisted of 11 bracelet events and and awarded more than €25 million in prize money. Nearly 7,700 players participated in what was the richest live poker series ever held in Europe.

Perhaps the biggest buzz came when Chris Ferguson won Event #7: €1,650 PLO Hi-Lo for €39,289 ($45,677) for his sixth bracelet. The win helped him secure 2017 WSOP Player of the Year honors, and assured controversy from players who were less than excited to see Ferguson making anything that looked like a comeback in poker after his fall from grace.

Less controversial highlights included Dominik Nitsche winning the €111,111 High Roller for One Drop for more than $4 million and his fourth bracelet, and Spain’s Marti de Torres taking down the Main Event for $1,297,552.

“By all measures, our inaugural WSOP Europe was a great success – even Allen Kessler was pleased,” said Leon Tsoukernik, owner of the host King’s Casino.  “Now that King’s Casino is firmly established as Europe’s most popular poker venue, we have doubled down and have made a bigger commitment to bring WSOP Europe to Rozvadov annually.”

Kessler, who doesn’t shy away from criticizing poker tournaments and tours, almost won a bracelet at the 2017 WSOPE, finishing runner-up to Lukas Zaskodny in Event #6: €2,200 Pot-Limit Omaha for €57,897 ($67,236).

 

Controversial Host

Tsoukernik is a polarizing figure in the poker world. In 2014, he won “Industry Person of the Year” at the European Poker Awards, but last year his image was tarnished after multiple high-stakes pros began accusing Tsoukernik of refusing to repay money loaned to him at the table. One such dispute resulted in a legal battle with “Aussie” Matt Kirk and Aria Casino that ended up in court.

Tsoukernik was accused of failing to repay a $3 million loan from Kirk, who advanced the casino owner funds during a heads-up poker match in the Ivey Room at Aria.

Without a resolution, Kirk filed suit in Clark County court, and in turn Tsoukernik filed a countersuit for $10 million for defamation of character. He alleged he was exhausted during the match and taken advantage of while being plied by alcohol.

During the debacle, 2016 €1 Million Big One for One Drop Elton Tsang alleged that Tsoukernik refused to pay him €2 million from a cash game at the EPT Barcelona. In the wake of these revelations, poker pros like Doyle Brunson and Daniel Negreanu spoke out against Tsoukernik.

Controversies about honorable payments aside, WSOP officials seem to view King’s Casino as a long-term home for the WSOPE.

“We have long searched for a great venue and host for WSOP Europe and we believe we’ve finally found it,” WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said.  “King’s Casino has been a terrific host and with their expansion complete, we’re pleased to commit to holding WSOP Europe annually each October in Rozvadov.”

Since its inception in 2007, the WSOPE has been held at London’s Casino at the Empire in Leicester Square (2007-2010), Majestc Barrière in Cannes, France (2011-13), Spielbank Berlin in Germany (2015), and King’s Casino Rozvadov (2017).

The return of the WSOPE in 2018 also contradicts the WSOP’s rotation announcement from 2013. At the time, it was announced that the WSOPE would only be held in odd years while the WSOP Asia Pacific would take place in even years. The WSOP Asia Pacific hasn’t been held since 2014.

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