Why Seefeld Casino Is One For The Poker Players’ Bucket List

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The Seefeld Casino in Austria is to poker what the White Turf meeting at St Moritz is to horse racing

From the Aussie Millions to the Millions UK, it’s easy to get wrapped-up in showpiece big money events despite them not catering for, or being contested by, the vast majority of the poker playing community.

A million miles away from the warehouse style venues which can, and often do, cater for a thousand plus players in one sitting, is the intimate Seefeld Casino, which is currently staging the opening leg of the 2020 Casinos Austria Poker Tour (CAPT).

This is more of a cosy venue than a small one and, of course the trains run on time and the tournaments run like clockwork. Here you will not find an online qualifier, a branded t-shirt or even see a player paying more attention to his tablet than the flop.

These familiar sights are not banned or scorned upon in Seefeld Casino, they are just not embraced by the type of player found at this venue.

And some casino it is too with the Alps, ski slopes, picturesque alpine cottages and boutique shops neighbouring it. Oh, and that train station is less than 50 metres from the main casino entrance. There is a coffee shop in between the two in case you have the urge to relax and enjoy the crisp fresh air or simply contemplate a bad beat.

Turn Right At The Mountain!

Getting here is easy, EasyJet have regular flights landing in Innsbruck departing from all over the UK. They are cheap and the approach to this airport is one of the most stunning in the world.

Like Gibraltar’s airport, pilots need a special licence to land here – which proves their ability to fly around mountains! Thereafter it’s 20 minutes and a €45 taxi ride to any hotel or apartment in the resort.

Of course, ‘resort’ may lead you to believe this place is buzzing but, apres-ski bars and drunken decadence are not in abundance. In fact, like a good proportion of the players within the venue, most of the holiday makers would be more familiar with Saga holidays having failed the qualifying criteria for a Club 18-30 (at least two decades beforehand).

I digress. An alternative route is via Munich Airport where you can board a train within the airport itself and be delivered to Seefeld’s Casino doorstep in two hours.

Once again, the scenery is exceptional and as a sight for sore eyes, look out to your right shortly after leaving Garmisch Partenkirchen train station for a breath-taking view of the Olympic ski jumps.

A Dozen Good Years

Anyway, the CAPT has been on the road for 12 years now but thankfully very little changes with it. Their festivals have an appeal for players of all levels from €50 entry to €10,000 high rollers. The venues, which are owned and operated by the state’s ‘Casinos Austria’, are all fit for a backdrop to a Bond movie.

Here is a list of them and the legs on the 2020 CAPT:

Venue 2020 Dates Main Event
Seefeld 09/01 to 19/01 €2,000 + €160
Bregenz 17/02 to 23/02 €1,000 + €80
Salzburg 01/04 to 05/04 €500 + €50
Bregenz 28/04 to 03/05 €1,000 + €80
Seefeld 20/05 to 24/05 €500 + €50
Velden 14/07 to 25/07 European Poker Championship
Seefeld 22/09 to 27/09 €1,000 + €80

But this item is about Seefeld’s poker room per-se and, of course the action at the ongoing CAPT. That ‘action’ has been known to be big. Last night I watched no more than ten minutes of Omaha cash game action and witnessed €80,000 change hands in a single pot. Yes, that happens a lot all around the world, but rarely in an all-in pre-flop coup where one player is holding A-9-4-3!

The action can also be relatively small with €200 sit-down cash games aplenty. The Omaha with €5/5 blinds is a personal favourite. And if you are fortunate enough to have a winning session, a trip to the cash cage never fails to amuse. The draw which holds cash itself is somewhat eye-catching as it always has enough green yellow and purple notes crammed in it to wallpaper a five bedroomed house.

But the overwhelming glory of this venue is its traditional feel. At a guess, Austrian and German players take up 35 per cent of the field apiece, Italians make up an additional 20 per cent while the ‘others’ – including a regular returning half dozen from Ireland – take up the remaining seats in both cash games and tournaments.

You can say what you want about our continental cousins – guilty, I have been known to make mention of the ‘man bags’ many like to carry – but they are a respectful and affable bunch who are mannerly and a pleasure to play with. Maybe the fact that there are no online qualifiers in Seefeld contributes to the ambiance.

Flame Out

The casino’s one fault was rectified in 2019 when a country-wide smoking ban was brought into place. The country is no longer known as the ‘ash tray of Europe’ and that means the air quality inside Seefeld Casino now matches that of outside.

Marcel Pippal, the card room manager, is similarly pleasant. His English may not be the best – it is superior to my German – but he never fails to greet returning players with a warm smile and a handshake.

Reduced rates in many top-drawer hotels are available to CAPT players at Seefeld Casino

His staff are always immaculately turned out and very competent. The tables are sizable and players are not packed in like sardines whereby you would need a tin opener to leave your seat. Fresh fruit is complimentary and in abundant supply, waiting staff are always on hand to serve drinks.

Incidentally, Casinos Austria venues in cities such as Vienna and Innsbruck have a policy that states dinner jackets must be worn by all visiting men. They can be hired at the reception desk but Seefeld simply employs the ‘smart casual’ approach.

Away From The Action

Outside of the casino the chief attraction is the ski slopes. Seefled Casino works hand in glove with the local winter sport attractions, sponsoring many international competitions in the town and in return they can offer their poker playing customers some exceptional concessions.

It’s proper old school stuff. Ridiculously reduced rates in many top-drawer hotels are available to CAPT players. As they come with ‘wellness centres’ (swimming pools, saunas and steam rooms in layman’s terms) by default, wives and girlfriends have plenty to occupy themselves with whilst you attempt to earn the wages.

Similarly, through the casino those notoriously expensive ski passes can be picked up for less than half their normal daily rate. In effect, you simply need to enter the casino and wager €30 to be eligible for what equates to massive savings on your skiing overheads.

To Summarise

A poker festival at Seefeld is more of a lifestyle experience opposed to hard-core action. If you are a regular in a venue such as Luton you would barely recognise a CAPT leg as a poker event.

Things are certainly run efficiently but the clockwork still allows for well-structured events. Most definitely one to tag on to a bucket list and is to poker what the White Turf meeting at St Moritz is to horse racing.

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First published on: Gambling.com