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The Festival Series Meets – SpokersBowl – Estonian Community Poker

The Festival Series Meets – SpokersBowl – Estonian Community Poker

Sun, beach, warm water. These are the first elements that come to the mind of an average poker player in connection with Malta. Of course, Festival Malta does everything in its power to make players feel comfortable in the world of poker in addition to these aspects. In addition, to Hold'em tournaments, the Festival Malta schedule also includes plenty of mixed games, as well as a blackjack and roulette tournament that give players a chance to outsmart their fellow competitors. You can read more about the rules of both games here.

However, where rules are not only taught by reading but also by teaching lessons, is the 'SpokersBowl Freeroll League'. SpokersBowl is a community initiative based in Estonia whose goal is to bring together social people for whom poker is a mental sport like any other sport. The association, which was founded at the end of 2022, quickly gained popularity among the locals, and today the number of members has grown to 400, with both experienced and completely inexperienced players participating in weekly online freeroll games. Teaching poker etiquette and rules to the latter is one of the social initiatives of the entire SpokersBowl community. The Festival Media Team caught up with Karev, SpokersBowl's founding member and an active community member, who shed some light on the activities.

The Festival Media Team: Hello Karev. Tell us a little about SpokersBowl. Where did the idea come from and what does it represent?

Karev: ''Hello everyone. I have been active in the poker industry as a player for almost 20 years, the last five years as a community poker promoter. In addition, I have been involved in the organizational part and related to all major poker festivals held here in Estonia, such as Kings of Tallinn, Summer Showdown, Coolbet Open, Patrik Antonius Poker Challenge, 888 Live, The Festival Tallinn, etc. In August 2022, I left my previous employer and, due to my age or for some other reason, started thinking back on my poker activities. My thoughts went back to where I started, freerolls. Since I was already involved in training new players, it was almost inevitable that, in cooperation with Coolbet, we found a common language to develop this activity further.

SpokersBowl was born, which has become popular in the Estonian community. For example, there will be a LIVE final with 60 players next Sunday, where the two best players from each online tournament will come together, and we are sending the best of the best ones to Malta to get some international vibe. Many of them never had played poker abroad so would be nice to see them winning. In other words, we help players in their poker development path in a community way. We did the same for the trip to The Festival Nottingham event, but unfortunately, the winner of the final, Ragnar, was unable to join due to work obligations. However, he is now joining us in Malta.''

Ragnar Anniko- SpokersBowl Nottingham 2023 winner

The Festival Media Team: SpokersBowl. The name seems to suggest sports in addition to poker. What's the deal with that?

Karev: ''It's true that when naming it, I pondered and considered various name options for a long time. In addition, I thought about poker as a mind sport in a broader sense. In Estonia's wider society, poker is still considered a gambling game, and I would like to break this myth in the coming years. I know it won't be easy because there are many arguments on the other side regarding the fact that "poker is a game of chance." However, in basketball, where the ball can bounce seven times on the rim before falling into the basket, or in soccer, where an attacker can be offside by a millimeter, resulting in a beautifully curved goal being disallowed, don't these also qualify as luck factors? If we listen to interviews with sports athletes from all over the world, the word "luck" is evident in the vast majority of them.

The opponents had more luck in the end; if the ball had come to my foot more accurately, I would have had a better shot - think for a moment about how many of these interviews you have seen yourself. It is a similar coincidence of luck moments, just like a one-, two-, or nine-outer that comes in on the river in a poker game, giving the opponent a better combination and thereby winning the hand. And similarly to other sports, in poker, you have the possibility to avoid these moments in various ways. Do not completely avoid them, but do everything in your power to prevent those situations from occurring.''

The Festival Media Team: Mhh. Quite an interesting view of poker? What other values does SpokersBowl embody?

Karev: ''Thank you for the question. In addition to the fight against societal pressure, another goal is to teach poker to newcomers. Especially at the grassroots level. It is important to me that every player who arrives, for example, on the invitation of friends or as a "newbie" who is playing poker for the first time, is not frightened that it is a game full of written and unwritten rules. Let's take a moment back in time and think about our own beginnings. Do you remember your first-hand trembles or the looks of other players on the subject of "What are you doing, you don't know how to play at all"? I believe that such moments where experienced players look at "newcomers" angrily or throw derogatory words at them are not only a "problem" in Estonia but also elsewhere. Therefore, it is important that the first experiences of new players with poker have someone by their side who will comfort them by saying that they should not pay attention to the grumbling of an experienced player or that it is not a big deal that they do not fully understand the rules at the moment. And Freerolls give an option or a place for learning. In addition to me, there are many other great people in Estonia who do similar things.''

The Festival Media Team: Very noble principles. Is there a plan to conquer the international market with a "social public project" at some point?

Karev: ''Work is underway in this area. For example, this Sunday, it is already possible to play in the first international SpokersBowl tournament. True, it is not a freeroll like our previous tournaments, but we are trying to give our community the opportunity to apply their learned experiences against Finnish, Swedish, and Norwegian players, whose level may be higher than the current skills of our players. We are giving our players free tickets so that those who cannot afford to get an "international" experience can gain the experience as well.''

SpokersBowl €1000 package

The €1000 package consists of: