Poker in Belarus
Gambling in Belarus is thriving, but poker still has an uncertain legal status – it belong neither to sports nor to gambling. Belarus Poker is a trademark, though.
The key point in the development of gambling in Belarus was, curiously enough, the ban on gambling in Russia in the summer of 2009. Many major gaming networks were transferred to Minsk and other cities – to take at least a casino “Shangri-La”.
Another important feature of poker in Belarus – a rigid distinction between tournaments and cash. The latter is only allowed in casinos. Because of this, many refuse to open poker clubs or simply go underground. Because tournaments without cache have a short lifetime. Where is the sense in organizing them if they do not bring tangible income?
Where to play poker in Belarus?
All over the country there are more than 30 casinos (two dozen of them are in Minsk), nearly 300 gaming halls and about 150 bookmakers. The main activities are naturally in the capital – and here you can find the largest choice of gambling houses, and the range of limits is much wider than, for example, in Grodno or Vitebsk.
Cache tables are not in all the casinos, but to find a game is not that difficult. From $ 0.5/1 you can play in I-go-go Poker, Golden Rhino, Mirage. In Zeus, XO and Carat $ 1/2 and $ 5/5 e played. Also in Zeus an expensive Omaha is held ($ 10/20 and above).
Tournaments are also easy to find. In poker clubs Poker House buy-ins are usually affordable and are on average a few tens of dollars. In Zeus more expensive tournaments are held, with rebuyers from $50 and up, and periodical guarantees of $ 10000-15000. In 2012, Minsk hosted the stage of the Russian Poker Tour with a total guarantee of €450,000.
It’s not worth looking for semi-underground clubs: in Belarus they are under state supervision; furthermore, the legal casinos are safe with relaxed atmosphere and good service. Belarusian authorities are to be paid tribute: control over gambling in the country is really tight.
Playing field in Belarus
Most of the casinos are concentrated in Minsk, most poker players live there too. Basically they are weak regulars. Of course, there are many amateurs, foreigners (including Russians and Ukrainians). You can hardly find here really strong players who take part in the low to mid-limits games.
One interesting feature: with the growing stakes the level of the game does not always increase. The team for $ 1/2 limits can be much stronger than for $ 5/5. Everything depends on the institution and time. Cash tables are gathered mostly in the late afternoon.
Junket tours have become widespread in Belarus – “free” tours with a number of conditions provided by gambling establishments. A player buys chips for a certain amount (sometimes $ 50,000 and above), pledging to play at certain limits in advance. Flights, accommodation – free of charge.
A typical scheme: Moscow – Minsk on weekends. Often “junket tours” are arranged by travel companies with “softer” liabilities in this case.