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Playing at the beach

Playing at the Beach

Everyone loves summer, whether it’s an ice-cream and a trip to the seaside or a balmy evening when it feels like the sun will never quite drop below the horizon. But the middle of the year is also one of the busiest times of the year for cash games, and never more so than at The Palm Beach casino in London’s Mayfair district.

As the capital welcomes millions of tourists every summer, plenty of those are poker enthusiasts who make it to the grandest of casinos on Berkeley Street to test their mettle against players from across London. With a mix of regulars and pros attending most nights, the scene is a thriving one, with high demand for a seat to the game, which kicks off at 8.00pm every night. But what makes the heat of the action at ‘The Beach’ so special? We spoke to London poker pro and industry favourite Jamie Sykes, asking first why The Palm Beach is his choice of venue.

‘Well there are a few reasons. First and foremost, there is daily £5/£10 and above action which other rooms in London can't offer reliably. I also enjoy the more intimate setting of a three-table cardroom with a small team of chatty staff who know all of the regulars. It gives the room an intimate atmosphere which coupled with a plush, clean and cosy environment results in a very pleasant place to play poker.’

It’s rare these days to see a cardroom put player comfort above sheer footfall, especially in London. But as Jamie describes, The Palm Beach is about people rather than numbers.

‘I really like the emphasis on experience rather than volume, spearheaded by the Cardroom Supervisor Charlotte Eaton, whose stern yet ultimately caring approach has maintained the ecosystem which I have known and loved for the best part of five years.

It’s no accident. We obviously work with ‘Charlie’ closely, and no-one puts players first like her and all the team at ‘The Beach’. The friendly atmosphere has never been better, which chimes loudly with calls recently from players of all levels to bring the element of fun back to poker games across Europe. As one of Europe’s most prized cardrooms, it is vital that players have a great night out whatever level they are at in the game. Jamie Sykes is sure that the management’s work in maintaining this treasured aspect of The Palm Beach is what keeps players coming back.

‘It has resulted in a very positive atmosphere and the emphasis is on every type of poker player being able to have the best experience possible.’

It’s important to us at Genting Poker London as we’ve shown, but how significant is it to players like Jamie to have staff who aren't just 'at work' but genuinely enjoy the game?

‘It is paramount. I don't think I'm overstating it to say that cardrooms are delicate ecosystems which need maintaining. If you have staff just clocking in and out, the atmosphere becomes stale. In a stale atmosphere, players aren't encouraged to chat to each other, which means less action, less competition and less frivolity. Games are made or broken by the tone of the dealer and competency of the management.’

Strong words, and ones which we’re sure many professionals would strongly agree with. So what has been the most memorable night for Jamie? We couldn’t resist pressing him for a decision on that!

‘My most memorable night was about a year ago playing £10/£25 with a hilarious man who I believe owns a bank in Saudi Arabia, who attended with a few of his friends. He is probably the friendliest person I've ever met (as evidenced by his compulsion to not only buy everyone in the room a drink but give them an over-the-top dramatic kiss on the cheek, regardless of gender). As a table we drank in excess of 15 bottles of white wine and needless to say our friend was all-in most hands. By the end of it, I felt like I’d had three of four small heart attacks and there was enough money on the table for most people to buy a house with. I don't think I've ever laughed so much at a poker table in my entire life!’

It sounds like an unforgettable night, but there are plenty of those at The Palm Beach Casino. Make sure you take your seat from 8.00pm any night to sample the action at the hottest tables in town!

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