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5 Of the world’s richest poker destinations

Please only travel when it’s safe to do so.

Check your hand, place your bet, bluff, and win (or lose) big. Oh, and travel too.

Poker tournaments offer the chance to travel all around the world in the spirit of competition. High profile poker destinations include the Bahamas, Melbourne (Australia) and one of our favorite European hot spots for luxury travel – Monte Carlo (rub shoulders with Princess Caroline at the opulent Opera de Monte-Carlo and ogle super-yachts in the picturesque port).

But there also places around the world that are so obscure, you might never visit them if they didn’t host major poker tournaments. Some happen to dole out pretty wicked prize money too.

So for all you poker fans out there, here are five of the world’s most obscure and richest poker destinations:

1) Punta Del Este, Uruguay

Punta Del Este
Punta Del Este (Credit: Jimmy Baikovicius, Flickr)

You might think Uruguay is better known for its flair in football than in the game of poker. Not so.

The beach resort of Punta Del Este is dubbed the “St. Tropez of Uruguay.”

Think ritzy nightclubs, trendy Bikini Beach (frequented by models and fashionistas), high-end hotels and casinos. At the southern tip of Uruguay, Punta del Este has been a regular stop for the Latin American Poker Tour since its inaugural event in 2008. Among the notable poker players who’ve competed in Punta del Este is Jose “Nacho” Barbero – a two-time LAPT champion in back-to-back tournaments.

2) Cyprus

Gold sand beach on Cyprus - photo Evgeniy Isaev
Gold sand beach on Cyprus (Credit: Evgeniy Isaev, Flickr)

The island of Cyprus (located south of Turkey) boasts scenic beaches and sunny weather. It’s a popular tourist destination – but also a sweet place to play poker. In 2009, it hosted the party poker World Poker Tour. French pro Thomas Bichon took home the $580,000 grand prize when he won the tournament.

3) Durant, Oklahoma

Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant, Oklahama - photo Choctaw Casinos
Choctaw Casino Resort in Durant (Credit: Choctaw Casinos)

Okay, this is one of the really obscure places. But Durant, located in southern southern Oklahoma, hosted a World Series of Poker event in 2011. The tournament drew poker players living in Tulsa, Oklahoma City and Dallas, all just a short drive away.

4) Vanderbijlpark, South Africa

Have you heard of Vanderbijlpark? No? We hadn’t either.

But it’s actually a fairly popular poker stop within South Africa. It’s home to the Emerald Casino and Resort, which has hosted the World Series of Poker Africa since its inception in 2010. Before hosting the WSOPA, South Africa’s largest claim to poker fame was when Raymond Rahme finished 3rd in the 2007 WSOP Main Event.

If you decide to jet off to South Africa to play a few hands, be sure to also pack your safari duds to see the Big Five on game drives in the world-famous Sabi Sand Game Reserve.

5) Marrakech, Morocco

Herbs for sale in a Marrakesh souk
Herbs for sale in a Marrakesh souk (Credit: T. Graham)

The last poker destination takes us to fabled Marrakech in Morocco – a medieval city brimming with souks, mosques, gardens and snake charmers.

The World Poker Tour made sure North Africa would be represented by making it a regular stop in their tournaments in 2009. The move proved a hit, as over 400 players showed up for the high-stake tournament. France’s Christophe Savary won in the inaugural tournament, cashing in on the $379,000 first place prize.

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Thursday 20th of February 2014

Interesting list - I wouldn't have guessed any of those as poker destinations!

Irene S. Levine

Thursday 6th of February 2014

Sure are some unexpected spots on this list~

Janice and George

Thursday 6th of February 2014

Yes, the Oklahoma once was a surprise to us for sure.


Wednesday 5th of February 2014

So surprised Macau isn't on this list, but this list surprised me regardless!

Janice Mucalov

Wednesday 5th of February 2014

Ahhh. But Macau is not also one of the obscure destinations :-).


Tuesday 4th of February 2014

Wow...Poker players sure can travel. The Cyprus one surprised me.

Janice Mucalov

Tuesday 4th of February 2014

Who knew a pack of cards and some chips could take you so far!