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Poker pubs

PUBLISHED: 17:00 16 April 2008 | UPDATED: 09:39 23 August 2010

NEW CRAZE: Poker stars at the Prince Albert

NEW CRAZE: Poker stars at the Prince Albert

A PUB-based internet poker craze is sweeping the borough as publicans seek to encourage more customers through the door, writes Michael Adkins. Internet site www.theweeklypokerclub.com was first established in Sussex about two years ago and organisers ha

A PUB-based internet poker craze is sweeping the borough as publicans seek to encourage more customers through the door, writes Michael Adkins.

Internet site www.theweeklypokerclub.com was first established in Sussex about two years ago and organisers have now expanded to Gravesend.

Four pubs in Gravesham: The Prince Albert, Wrotham Road; The Grapes, Milton Road; Bar 24, Stone Street and The Gardeners' Arms, Higham hold weekly contests.

Punters pay just £5 to play all evening and instead of gambling they are awarded points entered on the website leader boards.

Every three months punters have the option to play in a final at Brighton for money.

Sophia Ascott, 25, licensee at the Prince Albert, said: "It is a fantastic addition to our pub and is proving very popular.

"The attraction is clearly that this is a friendly poker league. You get the same buzz but without gambling away pots of money where it could get out of control.

"We took over the pub about a year ago. We like a challenge but it was at the time when the smoking ban was hitting pubs hard so it was, and still is, a very challenging time.

"Pubs needs to adapt but there is definitely still a place for pubs in all communities and that is what we want to create here.

"Whether it is the food you push, more community events and nights, the pub trade must and can adapt and become sustainable.

"Our pool evening is very popular but people are already talking about this taking over as the new pool or darts evening.

"We are really pleased to be involved in this new craze and I am positive it will become a lasting feature in pubs across the country."

About 18 regulars at the Prince Albert pub have signed up and regularly compete, tracking their progress and others on the internet. Many customers travel from Essex to play in Gravesend as the company seeks to expand across the UK.

Professional chips, playing cards and tables are supplied by staff from the online-based company. Before each session new players are explained the rules and regulations and the evening is run by the company.

Once a member players can attend any pub on any of the days listed below to compete as they play to increase their point total.

Venue manager Garry Edwards, 49, said: "There are three angles to this way of playing poker. It is sociable, competitive and infectious. You get youngsters playing alongside people who are 70-years-old and it is great fun.

"We are always on the lookout for new centre managers and pubs to get on board so why not give it a try?"

n Call Garry Edwards on 07771720032 to register your pub or become a venue manager.

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