Now we are flipping the guide on its head and piecing together a frequently asked questions article for American poker players heading to Europe.
How Do I Get Enough Cash in Europe to Play Poker?
Cash does not play at the tables in the vast majority of casinos across Europe. While a $100 bill is in play at most Vegas casinos, having a bundle of euros on the table in a European casino is nothing more than showing off.
Most major casinos in Europe will change US dollars for the local currency, but the exchange rate they have is not in your favor. It is best to convert your dollars into the local currency before you need to spend them. Avoid exchanging currency at the airport because their exchange rates are generally horrific.
Dozens of European countries use euros as their currency, but there are just as many countries that have their local currency, such as British pounds in the United Kingdom, korunas in the Czech Republic, and the leu in Romania. Here’s a table with the currencies for some of Europe’s poker destinations. More information can be found on Wikipedia.
|Czech Republic||Czech koruna||Kč|
|Norway||Norwegian krone||kr, –|
|Romania||Romanian new leu||lei|
|United Kingdom||Pound sterling||£|
1) Use an ATM
ATMs are found everywhere in European cities, and you should be able to use your American bank card in almost all of them. Inform your bank that you are heading to Europe, including telling them which countries you’re planning to visit before you fly, otherwise, you may find your account gets temporarily blocked when you try to use your card.
You should also ask your bank about any fees associated with using an ATM outside of the U.S.
2) Use Your Bank or Credit Card
The two major card providers in Europe are Visa and MasterCard. If your debit card or credit card bears these logos (or the Maestro logo), you should be able to use them across Europe. Again, check with your bank or credit card company about any associated fees and to let them know you’ll be using your card abroad. American Express is notably less frequently accepted in Europe.
3) Swap Money With Fellow Poker Players
Ask your fellow poker players to swap money with you when you arrive at the casino, although you should only swap with players who you know and who you trust. This usually works by sending the person the money via bank transfer or via online poker site before, and them giving you the equivalent in local currency.
4) Wire Money to the Casino
If you are contemplating playing in a major tournament or will be playing higher stakes cash games, it could be worth it to wire money across to the casino before you arrive. Most, if not all, casinos will have this facility available, but check with them and verify all the necessary details before clicking send. You will likely need to know:
- Aba/Routing number
- Swift code
- Bank name
- Bank address
- Account number
Can I Play Online Poker in Europe?
There is a lot more opportunity to play online poker in Europe than there is in the U.S, although some countries can be quite restrictive.
For example, in France and Spain, you can only play against other players in France or Spain. These two countries are allowed to share their player pool, but you need to prove you are living in these countries before you can open an account. If you are only visiting these countries, you will probably not have the correct documentation and ID to play online poker.
Preparation, like in most walks of life, is key. Contact several online poker sites’ customer support team before you travel and tell them about your situation. If you give them all of the details of your journey, they should be able to advise whether or not you can play online poker on their site and if you need to provide any documentation before they allow you to deposit and withdraw. In general, when you’re based in the US and only visiting Europe, playing online poker isn’t possible – you need an address and other documentation to prove that you live here to be able to play.
What is the Legal Age to Play Poker in Europe?
American casinos tend to require you to be at least 21-years-old to enter the casino, the majority of European casinos have a minimum age of 18-years-old. This is the same legal age for purchasing and consuming alcohol.
Ensure you have some photographic ID with you, a passport would be best, so you can prove your age. This is a requirement in a lot of casinos (see next question).
Can I Just Walk Into a Casino in Europe to Play Poker?
Contrary to most American casinos, you can’t just walk into a casino and take your seat at the poker table. In most European casinos, you’re obligated to register first. In casinos like Casino Barcelona in Spain, Holland Casino Amsterdam in The Netherlands, and Spielbank in Berlin, you have to register with a passport or European ID card before you’re allowed to enter. In most cases you’ll get a plastic membership card you’ll need to bring the next time you enter. In most European casinos, you’re asked to leave bags and jackets in the cloakroom.
What is the Main Difference Between Poker Rooms in Europe Compared to the U.S?
The main difference is the size of the European poker rooms. Unlike the U.S, especially Las Vegas where the poker rooms can be vast, the poker rooms of some casinos are quite small, and some casinos do not offer poker at all to their customers.
There are some exceptions to this rule, however. Dusk Till Dawn in Nottingham, England, is one of the largest poker venues in Europe with a capacity upwards of 500 people. The poker room at King’s Casino in Rozvadov, Czech Republic is as massive and one of the busiest in Europe for both tournaments and cash games.
Is There a Specific Dress Code in European Casinos?
While this was certainly not always the case 15 years ago, most European casinos don’t have a specific dress code for their patronage. In general, though, shorts, flip-flops, and other beach attire are not permitted.
The legendary Casino Monte Carlo in Monaco is a bit stricter when it comes to the dress code. For some areas of the casino, t-shirts and short-sleeved shirts are not permitted, and gentlemen are required to wear blazers or jackets. Luckily, their casino staff will provide one upon request.
How Do I Buy Poker Chips in Europe?
The best and most common way to buy poker chips in Europe, whether to play cash games or tournaments, is to visit the casino’s cashier or cage. Exchange your local currency for chips and head to your table.
Should Lady Luck not be with you and you run low on chips in your cash game, ask the dealer if you can purchase more chips and they will likely get a member of the floor staff to take you money and bring some more chips to the table. In some cases, you will have to get up from the table and exchange money for chips at the cage yourself. The poker room will usually hold your seat while you’re away to do so.
Check with the cashier if you can have cash on the table as different countries have different rules about having cash at the tables; some casinos in the same country can also have different rules depending on the stakes you are playing for, too.
Can I Use Electrical Devices at the Poker Table in Europe?
The main issue you may face is when it comes to charging your phone or tablet due to the difference in voltage and the different plug designs. In the United Kingdom, Ireland, Malta and parts of Cyprus they use a three-pronged plug, whereas most of Europe has a two-pinned plus that is similar to the U.S plug but with enough difference to stop your plug from fitting the socket.
Thankfully, plug adapters and converters are cheap and readily available around the world, so stock up on a couple of these. Modern devices are designed so they can automatically switch between different voltages around the world meaning you shouldn’t need a voltage converter.
Some casinos have a USB socket built into the table. Tables used on the European Poker Tour has this feature, and because USB is an acronym of Universal Serial Bus, the emphasis on universal, you won’t need any special adapters to plus your USB in and charge your phone or tablet.
Rules for physically using your phone at the table vary per country. Using your phone is generally allowed when you’re not in a hand. Using your phone while in a hand, is usually against the rules. While texting, listening to music, and using the web is generally allowed, to take a voice or Facetime call you are generally required to step away from the table.
It is also against the rules, in some countries, to take photographs while inside a casino.
Is It Worth Signing Up to Loyalty Schemes While Playing Poker in Europe?
When it comes to saving money or getting your hands on free stuff, every little helps.
Loyalty schemes vary wildly around Europe, with some casinos not even offering such a program and others being potentially lucrative if you are a high volume or high stakes player. Generally speaking, playing poker doesn’t count towards the requirements to get a certain loyalty status.
Check with the people on reception what, if any, loyalty program they have, but only ever gamble with money you have set aside for such activities. There is no point playing a longer, higher stakes session of poker or tables games to get your hands on a “free” gift or discounted meal if you run the risk of losing hundreds of euros in the process.
Generally speaking, if you’re there for just a short stint, signing up isn’t going to be worth much. If you intend on grinding a long series and playing a lot of table games, it might be a bit more interesting.
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