Swedes, Norwegians Forced Abroad to Play National Poker Championships

The 2012 Norwegian Poker Championship is currently being played In Dublin, Ireland with over 1,000 players from Norway invading the Irish capital.

Where the 2012 Swedish Poker Championship will be played has not yet been revealed, but one thing is certain – it won’t be in Sweden.

Norway is still one of the few places in Europe where live poker is illegal, so when it comes time to play the Norwegian championship the players – including stars such as Thor Hansen and Johnny Lodden – have to leave en masse to compete for their own national title.

“Under gaming laws in Norway if you pay to participate and there are prizes and a degree of luck or chance involved, it is a lottery,” Frode Fagerli, the main organizer of the Norwegian Championships, told

“You’re only really allowed to bet on the national games like the lottery, and then horse races, soccer games and things like that.”

England, Sweden and Latvia have played host before but this year the Norwegians have descended on the Citywest Hotel in Dublin for the week-long championship series which includes tournaments with entry fees ranging from €300 to €2,000.

“We’re hoping over 1,200 Norwegians will come,” tournament director JP McCann told

“They won’t all be here for the full duration of it but you’ll certainly have close to 1,000 staying for six days . . . From a tourism point of view it is huge.”

The 2012 Norwegian Poker Championships will finish on Sunday with the final table of the Main Event.

The legal situation regarding live poker in Sweden is complicated, but at the moment only the government-run casinos in Stockholm, Göteborg, Malmö and Sundsvall are licensed to organize poker tournaments.

A Swedish Championship is held every year at Casino Cosmopol in Stockholm, but those events are not acknowledged by the Swedish Poker Federation (SvePof). Instead, SvePof hosts its own Swedish Championship outside of the country every year, and the draw poker event is actually the oldest annual European Poker tournament.

Last year SvePof’s championship was held in Latvia, and before that Malta and Estonia. Dates and venue for this year’s event will be released shortly.

One player who has benefited greatly from the many different Swedish Championships is Ferit Gabriellson.

In 2009, he won the SvePof event in Tallinn and in 2010 he took home the trophy at Cosmopol, making him unique as the only player to win both titles. Gabriellson also won the Omaha title in the 2010 SvePof championship (picture).

Check the latest Swedish poker news here.

Article sponsored by Poker Listings.

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