So I went on holiday the other week, my old mucker Mike Lacey told me about Portorose in Slovenia and said it was ‘Monte Carlo’ without the price tag and a great place to take the missus. He has been running some events over there and fell in love with the place, and now we have too. I’d never heard of it before last month, but its now my favourite place in Europe and we are already planning the next one.
It’s an easy thing to say in hindsight, but as soon as we arrived in Portorose I knew I loved the place. The weather was great, the views were amazing and perhaps most of all it felt very safe. I always feel a little vulnerable whenever I go to a new (non English speaking) country but not here. Usually within the first hour I have seen either a potential mugger or a drunk Brit pissing in the street, but there were none to be seen. With a population of only 4000 crime is nearly non existent in this tourist town which is one of the more hospitable places I’ve been to.
We landed at Trieste in Italy but it’s a 30 minute drive into Slovenia from there. Portorose is 5 minutes away from Croatia and an hour away from Venice. But we didn’t go very far because the small town we were staying in was lovely. Slovenians are like very relaxed Italians and everything was done at a ridiculously slow pace all week.
Poker players really get looked after as well, during off peak times in Portorose the casino is responsible for the majority of the tourism and as a result, gamblers are held in high regard. Poker players get a brilliant rate on most of the main hotels (including one of the only 6 star hotels in the world), if we needed a ride somewhere we could just get the casino shuttle car to take us there and we were sent to some of the best resteraunts where we were really well looked after. Aleksander, the casino host, came with us for one meal and the whole resteraunt seemed to stop to accommodate us because we were with him – it was like a scene from GoodFellas (the fancy resteraunt part, not the stabbing people with pens parts).
I have been very lucky that poker has taken me all over the world to some exciting places, but unfortunately rarely somewhere I could take Gina. Not because she wouldn’t enjoy the place itself, but because she would be bored out of her mind while I spent 16 hour days inside the casino for the entire trip. This is not the case with Portorose, quite the opposite; I would say it is perhaps the best destination in Europe to bring your girlfriend while you play poker, safe in the knowledge that it’s relaxing, classy, warm, safe and beautiful (And not financially crippling) so your partner can enjoy herself while you are away. Gina is already begging me to play in the future festivals being run there and for the first time I will be very comfortable buggering off for an entire weekend in the casino and leaving her to her own devices.
I haven’t even got to the best bit yet – Italians! Slovenia is a popular tourist destination with Italians and every time a major festival is on in the Casino Portorose the Italians outnumber the locals 20-1. I’d probably go anywhere to play if Italians were there (Or French) and until recently this was the only place where Italians could go for live poker.
As you can see, I am a bit of a convert. What I thought would be a one off trip has led to me getting engaged and we are already planning our next excursion early next year (And possibly even having the wedding there). Nobody is paying me to say these nice things, I just really think I have stumbled upon one of the next big things in poker and I want to get in on it from the ground floor.
It took me more than five years but I have finally found a way of mixing my personal life and poker life in perfect harmony and all it cost me was my freedom.
Getting back home sucked major ass though, especially as it dawned on me I had to shell out on an engagement ring plus it’s the busiest time of the UK poker year in London. I for one think there has been one or two too many things going on in London this year, it’s been overwhelming. I wish the WPT would have been a different time of year because unfortunately I think it’s been lost a bit amongst all the other stuff.
The WSOPE is always great though and I headed down to see some of the PokerNews crew and generally get in the way of everyone working while I enjoyed myself. I think the coverage has been superb and the Live Updates second to none. I can’t actually wait for it to be over because since we moved I have been rushed off my feet and I really really want a couple of months where nothing happens.
Probably shouldn’t have proposed if that’s what I wanted though.