Just got back from beautiful Costa Rica and the small tournament at Casinos Europa.All is well!!
Having not been there for 18 months since the one and only WPT event held there, I was unsure of how the poker would be. It didn’t take long to realize that we were the ones who left, not the poker.
Herman Lang, who was the controller during the previous years there is now the head of Casino Operations and they have a new Poker Room Manager in Luis Szlak. These guys couldn’t be any nicer and there isn’t anything they wont do to try and make you feel welcome. They have an uncanny knack of knowing what us Visitors need and an even better grasp on delivering.and I mean anything you want.
The casino itself is small, only 8 tables, and a lot different from the convention room upstairs, but very comfortable. It also lacked the carnival atmosphere that was connected to the Costa Rican events, but Carmen of massage fame and Gina of service fame were the hostesses for the event and we were never without a drink, food or a smile. This might still be the best treatment a poker player can get in any venue!
I took a walk down memory lane as I toured the Radisson; I remember the convention room being filled to capacity and the hostesses in the black dresses filling the aisles. I walked down to where the buffet and computer center are and remembered how we spent our dinner breaks. The weather once again was a constant mid 70’s, but with it being rainy season we had a few sprinkles and more than a few spectacular lightening storms off in the distance.
Paul Wolfe was kind enough to join me and call some of his friends. Paul always ran pretty good down there and this trip was no exception.he won two events and creamed the live games.
Herb Van Dyke and Mike D’Angelo were the hosts, putting together this poker party for the Casino and they did a great job of getting the word out to the Costa Ricans that the party was on. Just a few of the well know names that attended were Max and Maria Stern, Humberto and Alex Brenes, Bryan Green, Arturo Morales, Jorge Chacon, Yousef Massoudina, Jose and Jamie too.
Other notables were the crowds from the online sites, all located in Costa Rica, Terrance Chan and Thomas Koo from Stars and the boys from Paradise, Steve Morrow showed up for a day and the famous RGP contributor Razzo was there. Razzo took some great pictures that are on his website. Many of the poker playing sports book guru’s showed up as well and rounded out some very nice events.
How were the live games.well.LIVE!!!. Yes Alex Brenes had his game face on which meant the game was on, and you didn’t enter a pot unless you could stand a raise. The game was No Limit so it was always a big raise. Other games were Limit and a half & half Hold em-Omaha/8. The rake was extremely reasonable, and with free drinks, smokes, etc., It was all worth it.
I even got to play some Chinese Poker.against a real fish..only kidding Paul..LOL
The Amon Plaza is where a lot of us stayed this trip, and they built a new casino. Our Host Graham couldn’t have been any more accommodating and the rooms at the Amon are the best. There was even a new table game in the pit called Heads up Hold em. You play your hand against the house, while all play the community cards. I think I broke even overall in this game.
Costa Rica offers many side trips and great sites to see as well. There’s the rain forest, the live volcano, the Pacific and Caribbean coasts and even a replica of the house Tara from Gone with the Wind.
If there was one thing I’d change it’s the smoking. Smoking is allowed in all the casinos and restaurants and I think in order for them to rebuild there American base, this will have to be changed.
This tournament was a test for them to see if us stateside players were still interested in coming there for poker trips. The answer was a resounding yes; so expect to see a revival of tournaments and poker in Costa Rica.
And when I go next time, I’ll expect you to Come and Join us..