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David Benyamine is complaining about his luck. He’s got a big smile on his face and a towering stack of 5k Moroccan Dirham chips, but he’s still complaining.

“You want my luck buddy?” he asks of a blonde Scandinavian in jeans and a t-shirt who has an impressive pile of chips himself.

“Take every big pot you’ve won in the last month. Take all of those pots and imagine that you’ve won none of them. Now how would you be doing, buddy? Good luck with that!”

It’s noon in Morocco and the game at the Casino de Marrakech has clearly been going all night. They are bedraggled and unshaven, with red rimmed eyes, and the game is played in French except when Benyamine and the Scandinavian converse. No matter where you go, if there’s a poker tournament going on, a big cash game will be close at hand.

Arena where million dollar bets only swelled the pot on the turn

The Casino de Marrakech is made for poker. A welcoming staff, a five star hotel, warm weather, and the best tournament director in the world. I sat down with Matt Savage to talk about tournament poker today and his recent trip to Asia.

Matt is the guy who convinced the higher ups in Macau that it would be good for poker to let the world in on what was going down. And besides the APT tournament, there were also quite possibly the biggest cash games that had ever been played.

Tom Dwan and Phil Ivey entered an arena where million dollar bets only swelled the pot on the turn, and Chinese gamblers were as enthused about Hold’em as a pair of numbered plaques. There’s a real theme in poker these days, that the travellers are the ones who get the gold, and like Dwan and Ivey jetting it out to Asia, those who braved Europe’s snow to fly to the north of Africa found value wherever they looked.

Late one evening, we stared out with drunken eyes at rows of eggplant salads, lamb tagines, wine, and saffron rice. Belly dancers shimmied around the table, while local couples shared fruit juices and apple flavoured shisha pipes. The music was nineties standards updated to African hip hop beats. You don’t get this down London’s Victoria club. The World Poker Tour is on the move.

Show 21 (December 6) with Matt Savage is online now! Click the play button to listen:


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