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Poker Boom in Eastern Europe?

The Eureka Poker Tour Bulgaria Main Event is currently in full swing, with that tournament attracting a record turnout for that event. All in all, 407 players took to the felt, which beat the previous record of 307 players who participated in the last season.

In that event, the bulk of the field consists of poker pros from all over Eastern Europe, including Bulgaria, Russia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia and Macedonia.  The growing player field from a broad spectrum of the region is the latest sign in what looks to be a strong growth of poker in the eastern part of Europe.

Eastern European poker players also had a great degree of success at this year’s World Series of Poker. Bulgaria’s Simeon Naydenov, Hungary’s Norbrt Szecsi and Russian Vladimir Shchemelev all won Gold Bracelet’s at this year’s WSOP. Eighteen players from a number of countries in the region, including Naydenov and Shchemelev also made final tables in tournaments at this year’s series.

The success of Eastern European players at the WSOP was overshadowed by the stellar performance of Canadians at the event, as well as by the number of women who won Gold Bracelets. Despite this, the strong showing of Eastern Europeans shows that the standard of poker from that part of the world is as solid as it has ever been and continues to grow.

The last completed leg of the Eureka Poker Tour, Croatia, also appeared to be indicative of a potential poker boom in that part of the world. The Main Event of that leg, which took place in May in the resort town of Dubrovnik, attracted 283 players from the region, with Hungarian Achilles Bozso reigning supreme.

That was over one hundred more players than the 178 who turned out for season two’s Eureka Poker Tour Croatia event in April last year. While 283 is certainly a fairly small number compared to other professional events, the major growth in participants in that event helps show that poker has no signs of slowing sign in Eastern Europe.

Times in the eastern part of Europe are right for a growth in poker right now. While the economies of Eastern European nations are not growing at a rate they were before the Global Financial Crisis, most countries seem to be recovering quite nicely.

Countries in the region also continue to open themselves up to the world more and more, which helps lead to an increase in poker’s exposure to Eastern Europe. While the popularity of poker seems to have stabilised in other parts of the world, recent signs point to a continuing surge in the former communist nations of Europe.

Increasing numbers of players are jumping at opportunities in the form of major poker events in their region and are using that success to search for poker glory in bigger, more established events all over the world. Poker is still very much in the developing stages in the region but, at this rate, Eastern Europe may soon be a hotbed for the world’s most dominant players.

It appears the sky is the limit for that part of the world.

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