Unibet Open Bucharest

20 Aug

I arrived in Bucharest excited for what promised to be another action packed stop on the Unibet Open tour. In the past this leg has been in the winter time, so summer presented a chance to experience lakeside restaurants, beer gardens, and enjoy more exploring of this historic city. The luxury JW Marriott hotel was again to be my home for the week.


Photo credit: Storyblocks

One of the most anticipated elements of the week was the chance for players to meet Molly Bloom from Molly’s Game fame.

If they make a movie of your life the likelihood is that you have done something pretty terrible ( Bernie Madoff, Jeffrey Dahmer, etc.), or really special ( Steve Jobs, Oskar Schindler).

Then there is the other reason, which is you have a fascinating story to tell and this is what led to Molly Bloom teaming up with Aaron Sorkin and bringing this to the big screen.


Photo credit: Tambet Kask

I can recommend watching the movie (and indeed reading the much more comprehensive book) if you want to get a peek behind the scenes of some of the largest cash games ever played.

Molly, dubbed the ‘Poker Princess’ by the moniker loving press, was going to be opening the Queen Rules ladies event later that week- an initiative that Unibet continues to roll out to help shift perceptions in the male dominated game.

Prior to this there was a whole load more poker to be played.


Photo credit: Tambet Kask

The DSO started Wednesday, as did the renewal of the super fun ‘Tag Team Championship’ that had its debut in Malta.

Unibet Poker Ambassadors were teamed up once again with big names in gaming and YouTube. As defending champion, I had the irrepressible Alan Widman as my partner so we were guaranteed fun regardless of the result. We sadly bust halfway through, and congrats to Scott and Rauno who played a great game and took the title this time around.


Tag Team Champs

I spent the rest of the day exploring Bucharest.

By far the most imposing building is the Palace of Parliament which is not only one of the largest buildings in the world, but also ( fact alert!!) THE heaviest building in the world. Myself, John and Dara got the obligatory photos before heading to the historic old town for food and outdoor drinks. It was very hot so this was a suitable excuse to try a number of different cocktails 🙂

Thursday brought the main event day 1a which I was playing.

The first day turnout was good which augured well for the event as a whole and I ended up at a table with 3 other ladies ( 2x previous winners of the UO Ladies Event + 1 runner up!). Tough competition but I was pleased to see more women embracing the game and playing the Main Event.

I had one of those frustrating games where I made chips with no cards and then lost with premium starting hands.

My stack yo-yo’ed throughout, but ultimately I bust late in the day with a standard spot.


Starting table in the Main Event with Carmen, Ann & Dehlia x

The silver lining was the welcome drinks had barely got going, so it was off to the bar to meet loads of familiar faces, commiserate with others that had bust and wait until the party ended before the inevitable journey to “Chicken Staff” across the road for late night food.

Friday was all about the ladies & Queen Rules event. Armed with prosecco, make-up and snacks I decamped to my fellow Unibet Poker Ambassador’s Sophia’s room where a number of us decided to get ready for the afternoon and evening ahead in the best fashion possible 🙂

Hair curled and everyone looking gorgeous we headed down for a Q&A with Molly Bloom.

She was very open and honest with the questions and whilst no doubt she made some questionable choices and skirted illegality at best, she undoubtedly is a strong minded female who is on to the next chapter of her life.

A role model for poker she isn’t, but she will no doubt succeed in her next endeavours with the positive attitude and determination that women should be more empowered.

Here is a fab interview with Molly you can watch from The Chip Race podcast hosts Dara & David:

The ladies event was next up with cup-cakes for all and the now standard welcome glasses of prosecco.

The Queen Rules game ran without a hitch and late into the evening just two ladies remained fighting for the trophy; Sophia and Carmen ( the winner of the event last year).

In a great heads-up battle to watch and eventually Carmen prevailed for an impressive back to back win.

She was also not done with the week yet, as she was back to day 2 with a formidable stack in the main event.

Well played to both ladies and thanks for all those who once again helped make this such a fun event.

Saturday saw day 2 of the main, but for me the chance to jump into the €300 Deepstack side event. There were plenty of runners which was indicative of the week as the main event narrowly missed 600 players and a new record.

I had a fun starting table and a number of other ambassadors had jumped in the game also. I ran A9 into AK for an early exit and those of us that bust went to rail David Lappin who was deep in the main event.

He made day 3 and of course to celebrate we went and bought a load more food from the chicken place across the road who by now were guessing my order! (Chicken with lots of beetroot salad of course:))

Having sadly missed the players party on the Saturday evening I at least had the benefit of not feeling terrible on the Sunday. A tasty lunch at Social 1 which I can recommend, was followed by railing the players who now made up the final table of the main event. Unfortunately Lappin had bust in 15th for a €6,520, still what a terrific run for the last Unibet Poker Ambassador standing!

It was also great to see a lady make the final table, and no prizes for guessing it was Carmen Zainescu.

Ultimately Anton Vinokurov who started the table as a big chip leader continued to hoover up chips and Carmen finished in 3rd for an impressive €44,170.


Unibet Open Main Event Champion – Anton Vinokurov

Congrats to Anton the Unibet Open Bucharest Main Event Champion for a fantastic play & €103,060 payday.

We headed for congrats drinks with most of the hard working Unibet team who finally had the chance to relax in the lovely garden at the back of the hotel.

Congrats once again to Nataly + her talented Live Events Team for a huge event where the numbers speak for themselves:

If you would like to learn more about what goes into organising these spectacular Unibet Open Events, here is a great interview with the Unibet Open’s Head of Live Events – Nataly Sopacuaperu.

With a late flight Monday there was chance for me to do some more exploring, which really meant walking, getting too hot, then heading for food to our favorite Social 1 with Ian Simpson and his lovely wife Emma.

Suitably sated it was time to head to the airport before I knew it and to jump on a flight to Milan where I would be re-charging my batteries after another fun, action packed Unibet Open leg.

Bring on the next one!!

Daiva x

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