All you need to play poker is a deck of cards, a set of chips, a table, and a group of friends, which is what makes it one of the most popular games on the planet.
For many players though, this informal gaming setting doesn’t quite cut the mustard as they would much rather play in the glamorous setting of a prestigious casino. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of these types of venues across the world.
Whether you’re in Europe, North America, or Asia, you’re never too far away from an upmarket casino to play poker with the high rollers. Your love of high-end poker could also provide you with the perfect excuse to go globetrotting.
If travel, hard-fought poker games and swanky casinos are your thing, read on to find out about four amazing cities for poker lovers.
The four cities discussed below focus on the top end of the market, so if you’re just getting into poker you may want to brush up on your skills before sitting down and taking on a table of seasoned card-sharks.
Have a look at this strategy guide to poker betting and familiarise yourself with hands and poker psychology before playing. That way you won’t be going to the table blind (pardon the pun).
The British capital is a tourism hotspot for millions, and if you can forgive the dreary weather, it’s not hard to see why.
Few places on the planet can boast as much history and culture as London, and few can match up to it in terms of gambling facilities.
Throughout the city there are a number of modern poker halls and state-of-the-art casinos with the best being found at Aspers Casino in Stratford.
Built under the administration of a Labour government that planned to turn the UK into the ‘Las Vegas’ of Europe, Aspers is everything you could wish for from a modern casino.
However, the true beauty of British gambling can be found in one of London’s many historic, members-only casinos like Les Ambassadeurs in Mayfair.
Premium annual membership for this casino comes in at an eye-watering £25,000 which gives members access to all of the casino’s facilities as well as private jets and boxes at high-profile sporting events.
If £25,000 is a price too high to pay for annual membership, fear not as there are guest membership passes available for a much more reasonable price.
Be prepared to be at your best on the poker table though as hands have been known to rise to as high as £900,000 with the casino also being a regular haunt of top poker players like Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu.
Las Vegas, USA
No discussion of the best poker cities on the planet would be complete without a mention of Las Vegas.
If you’re heading to Sin City with poker in mind, make sure to coincide your trip with the World Series of Poker (WSOP) in July or November.
The biggest and best names in the poker world descend on the city during these months every year to battle it out for ultimate poker glory and huge prize pots.
Or alternatively, if you don’t want to be taken advantage of by a bunch of seasoned card-sharks, go at any other time of the year, the poker facilities will still be world-class.
What makes Vegas perhaps better than any other city on this list is its selection of games. You’ll find hundreds of tables catering to lower-skill bracket players and hundreds more for high-rollers with bulging bank accounts.
Away from the table there is plenty to do in Vegas too with classic sightseeing of must-see attractions like the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon along with more exhilarating, modern pursuits too.
Monte Carlo, Monaco
Have you ever watched a James Bond film and imagined how cool it would be to be 007 for the day? Well, you can realise that dream in Monte Carlo, the stunningly beautiful Mediterranean city – capital of the principality of Monaco.
Here you will find Casino de Monte Carlo, the setting of many a famous gambling scene in the James Bond franchise.
This historic building entertains some of the richest and most high-profile runners and riders in Europe. You’ll need to keep your wits about you at the poker table though as it’s not out of the ordinary to see simple buy-ins start as high as €1,000.
If you plan your trip in May, you can relax away from the poker table by taking in the Monaco Grand Prix, one of the most prestigious tracks on the Formula 1 tour.
Believe it or not, Macau posted bigger revenues and higher visitor numbers than Las Vegas last year and has been doing so for some time.
It’s not something normally spoken about in America, but Macau is now the biggest gambling city on the planet, far outstripping Vegas in terms of popularity and revenues.
In the past two decades a number of high-profile Las Vegas casino companies have expanded into Macau and used it as the petri dish to improve upon their American establishments.
The result is a thriving gambling city with many of the world’s top casinos like The Venetian, which is just like its American counterpart of the same name but much, much bigger.
Similarly, to Vegas, Macau has a reputation for appealing to poker players of all skill-brackets and budgets, but that said, is renowned for some high-rolling shenanigans.
Aside from the super casinos, Macau is a historic city with an interesting past and a blend of Portuguese and Asian culture. If you’re looking for something a little bit different from your next poker vacation, Macau is the place for you.
Poker needn’t just be a game that you play with your pals in the garage at weekends, instead it can be a game that takes you to some of the most exotic places on the planet.
Before traveling though, be sure to take an in-depth look at the casinos and poker halls on offer to ensure you don’t turn up at a table with some of the best poker players in the world.