The European Poker Tour (EPT) is once again stopping in Monte Carlo this month. Here’s all you need to know, and more, about this most celebrated gambling destination.

OVERVIEW

Europe’s historical gambling capital plays annual host to one of the continent’s most celebrated poker events when the European Poker Tour (EPT) swings into Monte Carlo every springtime. Ten of the first 11 EPT Grand Finals took place here, awarding some of the era’s richest prizes. They include the €2.3 million won by Pieter de Korver in 2009, which is still the biggest single score at an EPT event in mainland Europe, and the legendary Season 9 tournament which produced the best ever final table for a Main Event in poker’s history. The tournaments are invariably well attended — including a €100,000 entry Super High Roller event — and the limits rise high in the bustling cash game area too. Meanwhile the Salle des Etoiles at the Sporting Club, part of the Monte Carlo Bay Resort & Hotel, is the most spectacular tournament room in all of world poker, and it is just one captivating location in Europe’s glitziest city.

The Salle des Etoiles at the Sporting Club, Monte Carlo

LOCATION

Everything you have heard about the tiny principality of Monaco is true: it is lavish, ostentatious and eye-wateringly expensive. But it is also exceptionally beautiful with a fine beach and stunning views across the Mediterranean. It is full of high quality restaurants, galleries and museums, not to mention the world’s most famous casino and grand prix racetrack. Monte Carlo is the only place in the world where the low-priced practice of “watching the world go by” feels like attending the most illustrious international boat show, car show and fashion show at the same time.

The most spectacular tournament room in world poker

The main tournament room for the EPT — the Salle des Etoiles, or Room of the Stars — is perched on a promontory jutting into the Mediterranean Sea. It offers floor-to-ceiling views over Monte Carlo Bay and has a retractable roof to allow the sun to sweep across the room. (Don’t worry, it closes again before play begins.)

Address: Sporting Monte-Carlo, 26 Avenue Princess Grace, Monte-Carlo 98000, Monaco. The license holder and operator of this event is Société des Bains de Mer.

2019 TOURNAMENT INFO

Festival dates: April 25 – May 4, 2019

April 26-29 – French National Championship
Buy-in: €1,000; Three starting flights
Re-entry permitted into following flight

April 27-29 – EPT Super High Roller
Buy-in: €100,000
Unlimited re-entry

April 29-May 4 EPT Main Event
Buy-in: €5,300; Two starting flights
Single re-entry permitted

May 2-4 – EPT High Roller
Buy-in: €25,000
Single re-entry

Full tournament schedule

GETTING THERE

The closest airport to Monaco is Nice (NCE), which is about a 45-minute taxi ride away. However, it’s also possible to get to Monte Carlo via bus, train or helicopter. As you might expect, the latter is the quickest, but also the most expensive.

BUS: The 110 Express between Nice Airport and Monaco runs every hour, seven days a week. It leaves Terminal 1 at 15 minutes past the hour, then makes an additional stop at Terminal 2, before travelling on to Monte Carlo. The journey takes approximately 55 minutes and there are nine stops in Monaco, including outside the Monte Carlo Bay Resort, the Meridien Hotel and the Fairmont. The first bus is at 9.15am and the last at 8.15pm. Full details: https://www.niceairportxpress.com/en/home

TRAIN: A direct train runs from Nice’s central station to Monte Carlo four or five times per hour and costs less than $5 for a single ticket. The first train is around 5:30 a.m. and the last at 11 p.m. Trains run in the opposite direction at between similar times and with similar frequency. Local buses 98 and 99 link the airport to Nice’s central railway station. English language websites, including TheTrainLine.com have full timetable and reservation details.

TAXI: PokerStars Travel can arrange a taxi service from Nice Airport to your hotel in Monaco, as well as a return trip. There are several taxi companies that will also fulfil your booking for around €70 (if arranged in advance). Uber also operates in Nice and quotes around €50 for a ride to addresses in Monaco. However, the service is not licenced in Monaco itself so cannot pick up from addresses in the principality.

HELICOPTER: If you want to arrive to Monaco in real style, then the seven-minute helicopter ride from Nice Airport is the answer. Prices are between €130 and €170 each way (a return trip is slightly cheaper.) You can book directly through PokerStars Travel or Monacair, whose desk is located in Nice Airport. Price includes a transfer from the heliport in Monaco to your hotel.

ACCOMMODATION

The closest hotel to the EPT Main Event is the five-star Monte Carlo Bay Resort. The Salle des Etoiles tournament room is in the Sporting Club towards the back of the resort property.

The Monte Carlo Bay resort

Monaco is small and numerous other hotels are within walking distance or a short taxi ride away. They include the four-star Méridien Beach Plaza (22 Avenue Princesse Grace, Monte Carlo 98000 Monaco), only a few minutes from the tournament venue and with its own beach, and Fairmont Monte Carlo, which sits on the iconic hairpin of the Monte Carlo grand prix and has an exceptional view across the bay.

Cheaper options are also available, including the four-star Riviera Marriott Hotel La Porte de Monaco and the three-star Novotel Monte Carlo. The former is around 10 minutes by car through the centre of Monaco, but PokerStars provides a free shuttle service between the hotel and the tournament room. The Novotel is closer to the centre of the town.

You can book rooms for many Monte Carlo hotels through PokerStars Travel.

Several AirBnB properties are also within walking distance of the tournament.

INSIDER TIPS

There’s more to Monte Carlo than meets the eye. Specifically: not everything is as expensive as it might seem. PokerStars Blog has been travelling to the principality with the EPT every year and we are only too happy to share a few insider tips.

DINNER IN FRANCE?

Cross the line into France for cheaper eats

If you want to spend a few satellite buy-ins on your dinner, Monte Carlo is truly the place to be. Food options are spectacular here, but there’s no denying that they’re pretty pricey too. That said, there are options that won’t break the bank.

The Monte Carlo Bay Resort is at the northern end of Monaco and is only a few hundred metres from France. You can therefore take a walk across the border and find yourself in the French commune of Roquebrune Cap Martin, in which there are at least three options for food. Le Vietnam is a perfectly serviceable Asian restaurant (Chinese as well as Vietnamese food); Zamane Couscous, across the street, is a Moroccan restaurant serving delicious tagine (which also delivers); and Pizza Di Famiglia is a takeaway pizza outfit.

The quickest, though lung-busting, route to the area is via a staircase up to the hillside directly over the roundabout outside the Monte Carlo Bay Resort. Alternatively, walk down to the Meridien and take the elevator up, or wend your way on the street past the Monte Carlo Tennis Club.

Other reasonable options close (or close-ish) to the tournament include:

Miami Plage — Decent pizza and salad on the beach level, just beyond the Meridien. La Note Blue is also next door, which is pretty good too.

Meridien — There’s a daily dinner buffet open to anyone in the Meridien restaurant. The price isn’t exactly a giveaway, but you can go back as many times as you want.

Il Giardino — A small family-run Italian restaurant with a neighbourly feel, which is not to be underestimated in an often standoffish place like Monte Carlo.

A CHEAP NIGHT OUT? LOOK NI FURTHER
The Ni Box in Monte Carlo has one of the most recognisable locations in the city: just at the end of the tunnel, by the hairpin on the Grand Prix racetrack. But this is also your best option for an affordable night out — and one that will bring back memories of being 16.

There’s a bowling alley in the basement, whose bar sells the cheapest beer we’ve found in Monte Carlo. There are pinball and air-hockey machines too, just to continue the teenage date-night vibe. Oh, and McDonalds is upstairs (which also sells beer).

NEED TO KNOW

They do their best to disguise it, but Monégasque need groceries too. Arguably the world’s most hidden Spar can be found in the Metropole shopping mall close to Casino Square. Look for the bakery counter on Avenue des Spelugues and the door to the supermarket is beside it, leading downstairs. There’s everything you’d expect in there — including wine, beers, and bathroom essentials — at relatively normal prices.

A DAY AWAY FROM THE TABLES

Although it’s easy to miss if your focus is on either the poker tables or the boutiques and bars, Monaco also has a historical old town. It’s located on high, on a hill surrounded on three sides by the Mediterranean, and with dramatic views over both major ports, the winding streets that comprise the grand prix racetrack and the football stadium, among other sights.

More to see in Monaco than just the inside of a tournament room

This is also where you’ll find the royal palace, replete with attendant guards, the Cathedral of Saint Nicholas, which is the final resting place of a succession of royals (including Grace Kelly), and the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. The latter is part aquarium part national history museum and offers the most charming respite from the high pressure environs of the gambling halls. (Who wouldn’t prefer to live under the sea?) You can while away several hours up here in Monaco-Ville, where the restaurants tend to be more basic and affordable, and your major battle is only with the hundreds of jutting elbows of fellow tourists, rather than pinchers of your big blind.

EPT MONTE CARLO TV EPISODES

There’s been a TV show from Monaco on every season of the EPT, and you can watch pretty much all of them on the PokerStars YouTube channel. It doesn’t take much more searching around to find footage dating from the very first year, when Rob Hollink prevailed and production values and commentary were, well, let’s say developing.

However, if you only have time to watch one episode, make it the one where all of Daniel Negreanu, Steve O’Dwyer, Jake Cody, Johnny Lodden, Jason Mercier, Noah Schwarz, Andrew Pantling and Grant Levy made the final table. It’s never been matched.

DID YOU KNOW?

Only three EPT tournaments in Europe have ever awarded winners’ prizes of more than €2 million, and all were in Monte Carlo. In addition to Pieter de Korver’s €2.3 million Main Event triumph in 2009, Glen Chorny won €2.02 million at the 2008 Main Event and Erik Seidel won €2.015 million in the 2015 Super High Roller.

A FULL RECAP

Here’s the full list of results from former visits to Monte Carlo. Click the winner’s name for the tournament reports.

Year Winner Entries Prize Prize-pool
2018 Nicolas Dumont 777 €712,000 €3,768,450 Results
2017 Raffaele Sorrentino 727 €466,714 €3,525,950 Results
2016 Jan Bendik 1,098 €961,800 €5,325,300 Results
2015 Adrian Mateos 564 €1,082,000 €5,640,000 Results
2014 Antonio Buonanno 650 €1,240,000 €6,500,000 Results
2013 Steve O’Dwyer 513 €1,224,000 €5,130,000 Results
2012 Mohsin Charania 665 €1,350,000 €6,650,000 Results
2010 Nicolas Chouity 848 €1,700,000 €8,480,000 Results
2009 Pieter de Korver 935 €2,300,000 €9,350,000 Results
2008 Glen Chorny 842 €2,020,000 €8,420,000 Results
2007 Gavin Griffin 706 €1,825,010 €6,636,400 Results
2006 Jeff Williams 298 €900,000 €2,801,200 Results
2005 Rob Hollink 211 €635,000 €2,110,000 Results

HIGH ROLLER

Year Winner Entries Prize Prize-pool
2018 Albert Daher 119 €595,386 €2,828,035 Results
2017 Julian Stuer 187 €1,015,000 €4,581,500 Results
2016 Alexandru Papazian 231 €1,197,000 €5,659,500 Results
2015 Charlie Carrel 215 €1,114,000 €5,267,500 Results
2014 Philipp Gruissem 214 €993,963 €5,243,000 Results
2013 Steven Silverman 158 €775,400 €3,871,000 Results
2012 Igor Kurganov 133 €1,080,000 €3,325,000 Results
2010 Tobias Reinkemeier 113 €956,000 €2,825,000 Results
2009 Vanessa Rousso 79 €532,500 €1,975,000 Results

SUPER HIGH ROLLER

Year Winner Entries Prize Prize-pool
2018 Sam Greenwood 46 €1,520,000 €4,462,920 Result
2017 Bryn Kenney 61 €1,784,500 €5,948,415 Result
2016 Ole Schemion 61 €1,597,800 €5,918,220 Result
2015 Erik Seidel 71 €2,015,000 €6,888,420 Result
2014 Dan Colman 62 €1,539,300 €6,015,240 Result
2013 Max Altergott 50 €1,746,400 €4,851,000 Result
2012 Justin Bonomo 45 €1,640,000 €4,432,500 Result

Monte Carlo winner’s gallery (swipe left to right)

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