Tag Archives: Arctic Circle

The most rugged poker games and destinations in the world

Fancy traveling? Poker tournaments can take you anywhere from cushy international casinos all the way to the Arctic Circle!
If there’s one thing aside from the money that makes joining the international poker circuit so enticing, it’s the travel opportunities. In just a single year, a hardcore tournament player could potentially find himself playing poker in every continent in the world.
Despite the sometimes hectic tournament schedules, though, these poker tournaments are still held in the comfort of a casino. No matter how crowded the venues become, you can still count on air conditioning and some relatively comfortable chairs.
You could even play on a cruise ship like in last year’s World Poker Tour Cruise. Playing poker with legendary Hall of Famer and Team partypoker member Mike Sexton as well as the WPT’s Royal Flush Girls on a luxury cruise liner? Sounds like a dream come true.

Of course, not everybody is out to play in cushy tournaments. Every now and then, some hardcore poker players organize tournaments around the world that require not only the requisite poker skill but a strong enough constitution to keep playing in some of the most rugged environments ever to play host to a poker game as well.

Take Australia, for example. The country is mostly known in poker circles for the annual Aussie Millions tournament. In 2007, however, another game took poker to new heights – literally!

A field of six players converged on a steel platform 90 meters above the Pacific Ocean for one of the more memorable poker stunts in recent years. In the words of the winner, Hugo Asenjo, “as long as you don’t look down, it’s quite fine.”

Another recent and arguably more rugged game took things in a different direction. Instead of having the game take place high above, the Grosvenor Casino in Huddersfield chose to descend nearly 140 meters to the bottom of a mine shaft at the National Coal Mining Museum.

The 90-minute subterranean poker game took place in November 2011 and attracted a field of ten players. It wasn’t organized solely for publicity purposes, either. The charity game was held for the benefit of the Marie Curie Cancer Care foundation. Perhaps the most rugged poker tournament ever held, however, has to be the one at the Arctic Circle in 2006. With temperatures reaching 10 degrees Fahrenheit, it was the very definition of that one game that you wouldn’t want to lose your shirt in.

2002 World Series of Poker champion Robert Varkonyi eventually rallied from almost getting eliminated early to winning the game over local favorite Juha Helppi, but only after he had to take the option of trading in his jacket for a new stack of chips. Well, at least he didn’t lose his jacket for nothing.

Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)

Aurora Borealis

                                                                                                    Aurora Borealis

First day of the week and Monday blues had already kicked in early in the morning. One of the worst things to add to a manic Monday is the fact that there weren’t any autos plying on the road. Auto strike seems to be a once in a Month occurrence, pretty much like a regular feature of the buzz of this City that never sleeps… Having said that, one of the best part about such days is the chilled beer at the end of it all, especially when it’s with one of your best friends talking about the long lost journeys and travel tales from our past… most importantly planning out some future trips.

Over a couple of hours of regular small talks and nostalgia that we shared of our travels, he casually mentioned that his brother in law is planning  to visit the Northern Lights, (Aurora Borealis) and with the same casual tone he mentioned that we should join him too…

Now imagine me, the traveler that I am, this, for me is certainly an enthralling proposition… And yes, that is where we stop running our imaginations wild and mentally start preparing for the trip… As a travel writer, the first thing that comes to my mind is, what are all the things that I’d require to take along with me to make this trip, one of it’s kind. Very few people are lucky enough to visit the land of the Northern Lights, and luckier are those who get to view the enchanting sighting after long hard days sometimes weeks of waiting… Whether the plan materializes now or later, this place is one on my bucket list for sure. A holiday worth taking, an opportunity that’s certainly not to be missed! Not in my book, sir, no… never. 🙂

Now a lot has been written and a lot has been captured about the amazing sights of the beauty that lies at the far end of the world… One of the most amazing and enchanting things about what I’ve heard and the stories that are told out here is the fact that one has to wait there, pitching a tent for days and sometimes more than a week to be able to sight the phenomenon. While there is a lot of patience that is required and it certainly tests you, ultimately the sight of the Northern Lights at the end of your long haul wait is something you’ll never forget.

For those who haven’t heard of it yet, here’s a little bit on what ‘Northern Lights’ and Aurora Borealis is all about.  An aurora is a natural light display in the sky particularly in the high latitude Arctic and Antarctic.  In northern latitudes, the effect is known as the aurora borealis (or the northern lights), named after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for the north wind, Boreas. Auroras seen near the magnetic pole may be high overhead, but from farther away, they illuminate the northern horizon as a greenish glow or sometimes a faint red, as if the Sun were rising from an unusual direction.  Interestingly ancient ancestors believed the Northern Lights were variously the reflections of dead maidens, the spirits of the dead, swans caught in ice, a terrifying force which killed those who mocked it and an omen of war or disaster. While it actually is caused when solar particles enter the Earth’s atmosphere emitting burning gases which create the light. The colours are created by the different gases.

Where can you see it?

Generally,  the oval rotates with the sun, and it may grow and shrink in size considerably in only a matter of hours. The most spectacular displays occur in the northern parts of the following areas: the Nordic countries (including all of Greenland and Svalbard), Alaska, Canada and Russia.

Northern Norway is a particularly good spot for sightings.

When to get here?

Displays of the lights are notoriously unpredictable and cannot be forecast in advance. In the northern hemisphere, the aurora season runs from late September/early October to late March. The lights may be seen at any time during this period, but late autumn and early spring tend to be the best bets.

In my book, this place is a must visit and certainly deserves one of the top spots on my list.