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All roads lead to Bratislava… 

All roads lead to Bratislava… 

At least they should do if you’re a fan of poker, casino games and sports betting because the next stop on The Festival tour will feature all three!  

Hosted once again by the excellent Banco Casino Bratislava in the luxurious Crowne Plaza Hotel, nestled in the Slovakian capital’s picturesque Old Town, this event (10-16 October 2022) promises to be a real humdinger. Not only will poker players be presented with a raft of choice among the two dozen or so tournaments (including the €550 buy-in €500K GTD Main Event), but it will be possible to compete against each other (not the ‘House’) at casino games and sports betting, too! And then there’s our bespoke Activities to enjoy away from the tables…  

For information on how to qualify for various packages for The Festival’s Bratislava leg, see below.  

Interview with Banco Casino Ambassador Peter Čekan 

The Ambassador for Banco Casino Bratislava, Peter ‘Čeky’ Čekan, also happens to be a big fan (and a great friend!) of The Festival Series, so we thought we’d interview the very likable 42-year-old about his experience with our events and his thoughts about the upcoming tour stop in his back yard.  

Peter, who hails from Banská Bystrica in Slovakia, is a veritable poker veteran of a couple of decades, and he runs the most read poker blog in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. A mix of fun stories, information and advice, Peter’s blog offers an entertaining look at the world of poker.  

Peter and sidekick, Jane, enjoying The Festival in Tallinn
Peter and sidekick, Jane, enjoying The Festival in Tallinn  

The Festival: Players have their favourite events, and you’ve clearly taken to The Festival Series if your blog is anything to go by! How was your recent experience in Tallinn?  

Yes, you are absolutely right. The Festival series has become one of my favourite poker festivals since I played a few tournaments last autumn in Bratislava. I really like the composition of the players, there’s an incredibly pleasant atmosphere, there are special tournament formats that I haven't seen anywhere else, cash game tables full of loose players and, last but not least, I made a deep run in the Main Event and managed to finish around 50th. I believe that this year it will be the final table!  

Tallinn is an absolutely amazing city. I love historic, stone cities, with smiling people, sea and pleasant weather. The Festival in Tallinn fulfilled my high expectations, with a great organization, great tournaments and great poker staff led by Franke - he is Robocop!   

TF: As the Banco Casino Bratislava Ambassador you must be looking forward to our poker circus coming to town in October! What will your role consist of during the event? 

Of course, I am very much looking forward to this role. For almost five years I was the Unibet Ambassador for the Czech Republic and Slovakia, so I think I know how to fulfil my duties... I would divide my role into two parts: online and live. I do the former via my poker blog www.cekypoker.sk where I feature funny stories from events typically at the Banco Casino and also provide useful advice and so on. We are currently working on an English version, so the best poker blog will soon be in English! Indeed, for The Festival in Bratislava I am preparing a special blog in English - "The Road to The Festival 2022 in Banco Casino Bratislava" - where both tournament and cash game players will be able to find all sorts of information about the city, the casino, the games, the cash games and so on.  

As for the ‘live’ aspect of my Ambassador role, people will definitely not miss me at The Festival! I mostly move around adding a bit of a fun atmosphere with Jane, my stuffed Slovak fish! I'm a very positive person - if someone has a problem I'll give advice, try to help solve it; I might even suggest a lucky number for the games or propose which slots to play in the casino...  

I also like to play tournaments and cash games, but mainly it’s recreational, for fun. I love being at a table with a good atmosphere, having a nice conversation. I had a great time with fellow players in Tallinn, and look forward to greeting them in Bratislava! 

Peter and Jane in Tallinn

TF: The unique multi-platform Festival concept of throwing casino games and sports betting in the mix is like one of those ‘inventions’ that seem both genius and ‘obvious’ at the same time. Do you bet seriously on sports? And how’s your Roulette strategy?  

Ahhh... this is a very interesting topic for me. Even before poker, I made a living for years by betting professionally on sports - especially winter sports such as biathlon and ski jumping. I love Norwegian athletes! I started with poker when I found a poker banner in an online betting shop – in one night I lost everything I had in my account. My excuse is that I’d seen the movie Maverick. My involvement in Roulette is another funny story. When I was 18 I thought I would play roulette for a living, and although I managed to win 1,000,000 SK crowns (about €33,000) on the Friday night, my rollercoaster adventure ended on Sunday when I couldn’t even afford a taxi and had to walk home. When I play roulette now, it's really just for fun, so the format at The Festival is perfect. 

TF: Providing plenty of choice also extends to poker at The Festival, with a smorgasbord of game types on offer. As more formats are introduced will you aim at becoming very good at them in the future, or do you prefer to focus on just one or two? 

I'm a very curious person and really like being able to try new things, and I think this approach that offers players ‘new’ games is one of the reasons that The Festival is so popular and a great success. The combination of great classical tournaments, new tournaments and games and an electrifying atmosphere – not forgetting how Franke and his team try to fulfil even seemingly impossible wishes – is a winning one. And it’s fitting that Banco Casino Bratislava, one of Europe’s top casinos, will play host to such a fantastic event - it will certainly be an unforgettable festival for everyone.  

TF: That brings me nicely to my next question... The Festival prides itself on a worthy ethos - namely that people have a great time away from the tables, too - hence the Activities that are included for package holders. Is the social side of a poker festival important to you?  

I love socializing with people while playing poker, it's not only an important part of the game for me, but a necessary one. That's why I only rarely play online poker - I just don't enjoy it like I do playing ‘live’ poker. I like to talk to players about their culture, country and home town or city. I consider myself a well-rounded person who is always eager to listen and happy to learn something new.  

TF: Having said that, there’s the not so small matter of the €500,000 guaranteed prize pool in The Festival Bratislava’s €550 buy-in Main Event! Is it the ‘taking part’ that counts, or does it ultimately boil down to the money? 

Every time I participate, I think about winning. The money, in my opinion, adds that extra excitement to the poker world that almost no other card game can provide. In chess, it can never even theoretically happen that someone learns to play the game and then wins a major European tournament within a week (** Note from the interviewer: with my former chess pro hat on I can say we could replace ‘week’ with ‘years’...). It's unlikely in poker, but it can happen, and has happened many times. From zero to hero is a saying that fits perfectly in the context of poker. So, yes – of course the money is important, and there are 500,000 reasons to come to Banco Casino Bratislava for The Festival.  

TF: And no doubt there’ll be many of your followers lured by the money! Presumably, you’ll be urging them to hit the qualifiers on PartyPoker for a chance to win fantastic packages at bargain prices? 

Yes! Poker fans from the Czech Republic can legally play on PartyPoker online, and that's why I promote these great qualifiers with the help of my blog and Facebook poker groups. The more the merrier at Banco Casino...  

Qualifiers galore! Bratislava here we come… 

When The Festival was last hosted by Banco Casino Bratislava, in September 2021, there were 621 entries in the battle for the Main Event’s €300K+ prize pool. A year or so on, and it’s a testament to the success of The Festival series that, this time around, the guarantee for the same €550 buy-in tournament will be €500K!  

A massive prize fund, casino and sports betting tournaments and special Activities for package holders - it’s simply too fantastic a festival to miss. With this in mind, we’re already running qualifiers via our ever-increasing number of partners as part of a comprehensive satellite schedule. With various packages up for grabs, and bankroll-friendly buy-ins, there’s something for everyone.  

You can find the latest Qualifiers info here:  

» Qualify for the Festival Series 

So, what are you waiting for? Check out our many qualifiers and win your way to the extravaganza that is The Festival in Bratislava – we'll see you there!