“Bored with this shit! But what can we do?”
Thus legendary tournament director Gerard Serra replies when I ask him how he’s been; pleasingly, he doesn’t seem to have changed a bit in the 14 months or so since I last saw him, and I’m very much looking forward to working with him again in his capacity as tournament director for The Festival Series. I have to say, it is a little weird seeing him in civvies though, instead of the sharp black suit with matching tie and pocket handkerchief that’s made him instantly recognisable at countless events over the years.
Gerard is speaking to me from his home in Barcelona, although he’s spent much of the past year living and working in Dublin. “I was working for [Irish Open head honcho] JP at his club for like, a year now, but because of these restrictions - they’re open, they’re closed, yes, no - and in December I decided to come back because they were closed. So now I’m in Barcelona. As soon as he opens again, I will go back to Dublin. Not for the weather though!”
With more than 20 years’ experience working in the industry, Gerard is one of the most respected tournament directors in Europe. Having started out running events at Casino Barcelona in 2002, he quickly became involved in the EPT, and from there on to countless other poker tours, always in demand and travelling extensively to lend his authority and experience to tournaments across the continent.
After 20 years on the road, though, he’d actually started to cut back on travel when the pandemic struck. “Since I was working for JP I decided not to do more events - I’m really sick of that,” he says. “So I talked to JP and told him which events I want to do, which is Irish Open and Norwegian Championships, because it’s JP’s tournament, and on top of that, one tour. It was MPN, and of course MPN disappeared, and then I talked to Franke. I was working next to him at MPN, Irish Open, as he was in charge of TV crew.”
Ah, the MPNPT. I’ve had many good times working with Gerard and Franke on the (now sadly defunct) MPN Poker Tour - at the time, the funnest tour on the European poker circuit. Gerard is fully on board with Franke’s plans to revive the atmosphere of the old MPN events, where fun was always foremost in the organisers’ minds and everything ran like clockwork, with the same closely knit crew running every event and a loyal crowd of regulars who came to almost every stop. “Ah it was amazing!” Gerard agrees. “You know how Franke and I work together,” Gerard says, “It’s like, without words - just eyes. He knows what I need, I know what he needs, I know what you need - it just makes my job easier,. The MPN was so, so good, growing so big! So if we can copy-paste this event - all the players who know this event think: I know the place, nice hotel, nice food, I know the TD, I know the crew… So for them, it’s like, the same.”
“Franke contacted me to be TD, of course,” Gerard explains, “But also to help him find friendly structures for the players. Plus the players know me. I’ve known [Franke] for many, many years, and I can see that he’s really serious, he’s really focused, and we have this friendship as well - and I’m always really happy to be part of a new baby. I’m happy to start from zero.”
Will Gerard have any involvement with the roulette and blackjack? “No!” he laughs, “I mean, I have experience creating these events in the casino, but in this case - no. The casino will run these events. My role is to be the TD of the Main Event, and also to be the TD of the whole thing. But these funny events…” He trails off, chuckling. “Well, I will be around for sure.”
Having been around in the very early days of tours like the EPT and the MPNPT, Gerard is excited about working with The Festival Series right from day one. “Important thing for me is, I like to be there from the beginning - it’s my baby. I will work as hard as I can, as always, and I want the players to be secure that the TD and the rules will be the same everywhere, on every stop of the tour. I want to see The Festival Series family - the same players at every stop. I want players to know they will get a friendly structure, and I want them to enjoy with us.” Indeed. With a crew like this, how could they not?
/Dana, the Rockstar