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Barcelona

November 18, 2010

Tags: Travel, Tourism, EPT, Barcelona, Spain.

There are few cities in the world where you'll find yourself walking past a buck naked man in the middle of a busy street. Three years ago, I traveled through Europe with a group of girlfriends, and one of our favorite stops was the oh-so-eccentric Barcelona, Spain. Once again, the PokerStars.net European Poker Tour will return there for another season.

The Vitals

  • Language: Spanish, but English is widely spoken
  • Currency: Euro (1 euro = $1.55 USD)
  • Timezone: Central European Time
  • Weather: around 55-60 °F

Getting There and Around

Assuming that you would be flying into Barcelona, a 20-minute cab ride will get you to the city center from the El Prat International Airport, setting you back about €15-20. Or for €3.75 you can catch a bus that will add just another 10 minutes to your trip, or even cheaper again, a €2.40 train direct from the airport’s Terminal B will take you straight into town. However, we didn't have such a luxury of flying in, and instead endured the bus for 10 hours from France.

Taking a break on our road trip, somewhere between France and Spain.
Taking a break on our road trip, somewhere between France and Spain.

The Sights

Once you’re in the city, head straight for La Rambla. This is my favorite street because it is lined with shops, market stands, restaurants and street performers leading down to the ocean. It was here that we stumbled across La Boqueria, a market that blew us away with the bright colors of the fresh fruit and vegetables. This is the place to go to pick up a snack of the freshest fruit you've ever tasted, or some lunch on the run. For a sample of old tradition, take a seat at El Quim De La Boqueria, a world-famous tapas bar inside La Boqueria.

La Rambla
La Rambla

Of course, Barcelona is home to some of the world’s greatest artists and almost every corner you turn will prove this. The most outstanding attraction within the city is Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, a church that bursts through the city’s skyline. A church has been under construction for approximately 200 years, its most amazing feature is that there is not one single sharp edge to the detail. All carvings are rounded to give it the appearance of being made of wax.

Segrada Familia
Segrada Familia

If you need to go to the bathroom while you’re walking around the sights, find a McDonalds somewhere. I was warned against going anywhere else, but I still made the mistake of sneaking into a pub’s bathroom. When the owner realized we weren’t customers, she nearly lost her mind – I actually though she was going to slap me in the middle of the Spanish abuse she was hailing at me. But hey, at least the task at hand was complete. Lastly, please remember that Spain is home to many clever pickpockets, so be sure to keep your bags closed and close to your body at all times.

Nightlife

The Gran Casino de Barcelona, host of the PokerStars.net EPT, is situated on the waterfront opposite Port Olimpic, a long strip of bars and nightclubs. This area is a hot tourist spot, which means the bars love to rip you off, but at the same time they also bend over backward to get you inside their club with all the competition nearby, especially if you’re walking along the pier before midnight as the party only gets started when the clock ticks over to the a.m.

Each bar has promoters standing out the front trying to reel you inside with a “free shot.” Don’t be fooled, though, because the alcohol in this “free shot” might as well be water. We haggled with one persistent salesman about this scam and he insisted it was the real deal, so we joined him inside. When the waitress saw him enter with new customers, she went to do her routine pour of the shots, but he stopped her and told her to get the real bottle of vodka – and that it was. This may just be the power of five blonde Aussie girls in Europe, but there’s no harm in giving it a go yourself.

Port Olimpic
Port Olimpic

EPT Location and Accommodation

The PokerStars.net European Poker Tour will be held at the following venue:

Casino de Barcelona (annexe at The Arts Hotel)
Marina, 19-21 (Port Olímpic)
08005 Barcelona
Tel: +34 93 352 1010

If you're heading to EPT Barcelona and are still yet to book your accommodation, PokerStars has a dedicated EPT Hotels website for bookings at special rates. However, if you qualified online, then you won't need to worry about accommodation because that will be part of your prize package. Any queries can be directed to ept@pokerstars.com.

The PokerNews Live Reporting Team will be covering all the action from EPT Barcelona so be sure to keep it locked on our Live Reporting page, and as always, follow us on Twitter.

Los Angeles

November 11, 2010

Tags: NAPT, Los Angeles.

The fourth stop of the inaugural PokerStars.net North American Poker Tour heads to the Bicycle Casino in the City of Angels, Los Angeles, beginning November 12 with a $5,000 Main Event, as well as an invitation-only, televised $5,000 Bounty Shootout that’s absolutely rippled with pros, guaranteeing you some great viewing from the rail. Whether you qualified online or you’re still deciding to make the trek West, read on for a quick guide.

Getting There and Around

If you live close enough, consider driving to Los Angeles so you have your car handy. If you’re flying in, I strongly suggest renting a car. It’s such a huge, spread out city, making it hard to get around without one. I’ve never attempted LA without a car.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is about 25 minutes from downtown LA and the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens. LAX is one of the biggest airports in the world (the fifth busiest to be precise) and the cause of plenty of my headaches in the past, so be sure to leave yourself lots of transit time. You can find driving directions on the Bike’s website.

Accommodation

If you qualified for NAPT Los Angeles, then you’ll be staying at the historic Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles, home to the very first Oscars in downtown LA. Hundreds of movies and TV shows have been filmed in its halls, including Iron Man, Mission Impossible, Wedding Crashers, and Ghost Busters. Even the likes of Alfred Hitchcock have lurked in the stairwells. The hotel is a 15-minute drive to the Bicycle Casino, with PokerStars.net offering continuous shuttle busses to and from the hotel and casino.

If you didn’t qualify and are looking for a place to stay, then PokerStars.net has put together a dedicated team to help you book accommodations with special rates, so head on over to napthotels.com. If you're booking yourself, keep in mind that this is one of those exceptions where the closest hotel is most likely your worst option rather than the best. PokerStars.net's hotel of choice is at a distance from the host venue for a reason!

A Little Taste of Hollywood

You simply cannot visit LA without tasting all that it’s known for – the glitz and glamor of Hollywood. Strut down the Walk of Fame and compare your feet to Marilyn’s and stare in amazement at the tiny size of Frank Sinatra’s hands. Watch the limos scale Rodeo Drive as you enjoy a coffee (that’s all I could afford on that street), and if you really want to feel like the scum of the earth, pick up a star-spotting map and drive by the ridiculous mansions in Beverly Hills, snapping photos as you drive past the paparazzi vans camped out in front of Jennifer Aniston’s house. OK, scrap the map, but a drive around The Hills is a must.

Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, California

So you're pushed for time and want to sample all the LA has to offer in the tiny window of time you have before play begins. Well, Sunset Boulevard will give you a good sample. Start downtown to sample the seediness mixed with cool; pass all the riches of Beverly Hills and the famous Sunset Strip, go all the way to the Pacific Ocean in Malibu or Santa Monica. By the time you get to Malibu, you’ll probably be hungry, so drop into Reel Inn for some seafood by the water without denting your wallet.

If you're busto and have all day free, take a trip to Universal Studios right in the heart of the city. I haven't been there in ten years, but I'm certain it is still a huge eye opener giving you a whole new level of appreciation for film and special effects while you scare the pants off yourself on the rides. If that’s not your thing, then perhaps renting a pair of roller blades to join all the booty shorts on Venice Beach is.

I love to visit comedy clubs all over the world. I’ve never been to one in LA, but I have been to the Improv in Lake Tahoe, and Hollywood also has an Improv.. If Lake Tahoe had me holding my stomach in agony from laughing so hard, then I have no doubt LA will too.

Unfortunately, I will not be in LA this time around, but I'll definitely be following the NAPT live coverage. Instead, I am in what feels like a tropical heaven with the other half of the PokerNews Live Reporting Team covering the PokerStars.net Asia Pacific Poker Tour in Cebu, Philippines! You can find the simultaneous coverage of both events right here on PokerNews.

Vegas Ballin'

November 04, 2010

Tags: Las Vegas, Andy Bloch, Kristy Arnett, Wet Republic.

All eyes in the poker world will be focused on Sin City this weekend whether in person, on ESPN, or right here at PokerNews! Millionaires will walk away from this final table, with the world’s biggest prize in poker being handed to a new champion, giving us another household name in poker.

So you didn’t make it to the November Nine. Heck, you may not have even made it to Las Vegas, yet. But a boy can dream, right? Imagine winning all those millions of dollars and then being in one of the world’s most tempting cities to blow it all. Well, here’s a taste of exactly what that would be like, with a sample of some of Las Vegas' most extravagant luxuries.

The first stop has to be fine dining with so many of the world’s best restaurants tucked into one strip of lights. Fancy a 16-course French meal? Or perhaps a “$5,000 burger?” I was lucky enough to sample both.

Of course an update of a man’s favorite boy-toy is one of the first must-dos when scoring large. Andy Bloch showed Kristy Arnett his sexy Tesla Motors sports car, staying environmentally conscious while still spinning around like a baller.

When spending so much time with your hands laying across the ledge of a poker table for all your opponents to look at for hours on end, your wrists have to look the part.

The Vegas heat may have made an exit for the year, but I just couldn’t skip this video. It’s the perfect taste of pool-party season in Las Vegas and here’s a taste of how to experience it like you belong in Hollywood.

While you’re all cashed up, what better way to continue your poker dream than to splurge on your favorite sports or hit up Bobby’s Room for some high-stakes action on a table resembling an episode of The Big Game?

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