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The partypoker WPT National Cyprus Main Event takes place at the Noah’s Ark Deluxe Hotel & Casino on January 23 and it has the makings of another poker extravaganza.

The main event, with its €2,000 buy-in, guarantees a €300,000 prize pool and is certain to attract, like moths to a flame, some of Europe’s premium poker talent.

Cyprus is a funny old country, one that is visited by more than two million tourists each and every year.

Yet it’s still a country most people don’t know much about. Hopefully, after reading these five things you may not know about Cyprus, you’ll be comfortable facing a Mastermind-like interrogation about the enigmatic nation.

Cyprus is the birthplace of Aphrodite

The Greek goddess Aphrodite is said to have been born in Cyprus, in a placed called Paphos. For all of us stoic men that didn’t know, Aphrodite is the goddess of love, beauty, pleasure and procreation, which places her comfortably atop our favourite-goddess list.

Cronus – son of Gaia, the great mother of all – cut off his father Uranus‘ genitals, or so legend has it, and threw them into the sea (and some people think they have dysfunctional families). Aphrodite then rose from the resulting sea foam (we’ll have a pint of whatever they were drinking when they came up with that).

Other gods feared that Aphrodite’s beauty – and the fact she may or may not have got her kit off at the drop of a hat – would cause war among the gods so Zeus married her to Hephaestus, who, apparently, was the dour and humourless god of smiting.

That’s enough of Greek mythology for now.

Ayia Napa – Never has a name been so wrong

In Greek, the word “Ayia” means “holy” and “Napa” means “wooded valley” so you’d expect Ayia Napa to be a holy wooded valley, wouldn’t you? And while there are many picturesque and beautifully historic sites in Ayia Napa, it is, unfortunately, best known for its bustling nightlife and drunken debauchery.

With so many drunken revellers swarming the streets, it’s more likely you’ll wake up with a horrific hangover than make a Royal Flush, so be good when you’re on a night out or learn to find a brilliant hangover cure.

It has been invaded more times than you’ve had a Sunday roast

Cyprus is the third largest and third most populous island in the Mediterranean and, thanks to its prime location, has long been a target of invaders.

The Republic of Cyprus, as it’s officially referred to, is located south of Turkey, west of Syria and Lebanon, northwest of Israel, north of Egypt and east of Greece, which has led to many countries vying for its strategically perfect position.

Cyprus gained its independence on August 16, 1960, but in 1974 Turkish forces invaded and claimed a large section of northern Cyprus. This area was declared the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, a state that only Turkey recognises. To this day, there is a UN buffer zone separating it from “Greek Cyprus.”

The British Army has two bases in Cyprus that covers 98 square miles. They are the home to about 3,500 military personnel. Don’t misbehave in Ayia Napa because these bad boys might be bored and looking for something to do.

Cypriots love football, but their teams leave a lot to be desired

Cypriots are very passionate about football, but sadly they don’t have much to cheer about. The national football team, currently ranked 86th in the world (putting them alongside such footballing giants as Benin, Malawi, and Lithuania), has never qualified for a FIFA World Cup or a UEFA European Championship and has lost 150 of its 202 qualification matches – and we thought England’s track record of late has been poor.

Having reached the 2011-12 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals, APOEL FC, from Nicosia, are the nation’s most successful club team.

Poker history was created in Cyprus

In May 2012, former partypoker Team Pro Marvin Rettenmaier won the WPT World Championship in Las Vegas and had to stuff almost $1,200,000 into his designer suitcase. Three short months later, the popular guitar-plucking German won the opening event of the new WPT season when he bested a crowd of 329 at the Merit Cyrstal Cove Hotel & Casino in Kyrenia, Northern Cyprus. In doing so, Rettenmaier became the first player in the WPT’s long and illustrious history to win back-to-back WPT main events, stamping his name into the history books.

There’s also been another back-to-back win, of sorts, in Cyprus. In July 2014, Russia’s Alexander Lakhov won the partypoker WPT National North Cyprus main event. He followed that up with another win at the partypoker WPT Martic Classic North Cyprus Main Event in September 2014.

If Lakhov’s on your table in Cyprus this weekend, give him your stack as he’s likely to win it at some point anyway! It might save you the prolonged anguish.

Have you been to Cyprus or is there anything you’d like to add about the enigmatic island? We’d love to hear your thoughts.

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      • Good point Nigel. Although it’s better he has a parachute. Otherwise, he’d be flying in like a missile.