CONTINUED FROM THE LAST ISSUE

Q: In this case, there is a competition with the casinos. What are they saying about these poker tournaments?
A: I don’t know whether it is competition – they rely on the ‚cash’ games, which we do not have at our tournaments.
It would only be a problem for the casinos during the PokerFest week in Bucharest – all the customers, ‚cash’ or the others, will focused on Howard Johnson. Their earnings will be lower – but, other than that, the casinos are not financially damaged or in the number of customers because of our tournaments.

Q: We just finished the first half of the year. What do you expect for the second year at PokerFest?
A: I hope not to have another Deva. We have well selected locations. In September, meet us in Mamaia. I am sure it will be a success – it’s the end of August and beginning on September. It will be still warm and people will come to the seaside to have fun, with the entire family, etc. The tournament room is next to the swimming pool, facing the sea. You play poker and look at the waves.
Then, Iasi comes in October – a very good playing area. Moldova was good too – see Piatra Neamt, in the previous series.
In November, Bucharest – an already consecrated tournament; plenty of people, definitely a success.
For December, we have Brasov – last year, it was more than we bargained for, very happy. The local partners there are special, mainly the owner of the casino in Brasov. He has a great heart and helped us a great deal. At 2 o’clock in the morning, we were carrying tables together. He is a reliable partner and a wonderful man.

Q: A personal question now. What exactly is the PokerFest tournament for Sorin Constantinescu?
A: It means a lot. I was in a casino for so many years – after 17-18 of them, I was tired – night after night, 16-hour days of work, I said to myself: ‚cannot stand any longer to see people lose millions and can’t stay awake all nights.’ I’ve got an age, you know! I cannot spend sleepless nights in a casino, making ‚black lists’ with rich people who cannot afford to buy a bus ticket anymore. And I remember saying to myself that I cannot go into the ready-made clothes or other business that is not related to casinos – so I took up on poker – close to gambling and one of my ambitions – to have an event like this in Romania. Poker has grown big in Europe, at least for the last years – and Romania had nothing of this kind. I thought of being the first on the market, to do something professional. At first, people were skeptical, saying: ‚Aaaa,….. Romanians are the organizers. Ahaaaa, it’s gonna be stupid. They will favor some players, will break the rules. We know how this is gonna be,’ But now they see how strict we have been about the regulations.
I think we are in top 3, no bragging about it, in the top 3 in Europe in terms of tournaments organization – and this is something that the players are saying, players who are always at international tournaments. Many of them, winners in the abroad tournaments, confirmed that PokerFest is well beyond many of the events in Europe. And this is something I take pride in – I managed to keep myself in the gambling industry, have good results and am running a business always thriving financially and in its impact upon the players. Similar to a performance, always improving.

Q: Can this business have franchises? Have you thought of franchising this system in the neighboring countries?
A: I would love to start with Romania. There is a law draft that has been in its last stages at the Department of Finance, which will legalize the Poker Clubs. The moment they become legal, we are determined to open at least ten clubs, at the national level, clubs under the PokerFest franchise. The PokerFest rules will be complied with, the same tables, the same tokens, trained people for a professional work. Then, people will come to us gladly.

Q: Here is a sensitive question – there is a rumor that the casino inside the Marriott Hotel will be closing and the owners suggested to open with you, at the same location, a luxury poker club. Any input on that?
A: I can confirm it. After the success that PokerFest had in Bucharest last year, the owners of the Marriott Hotel casino asked me to start a partnership. I told them that I had such a relation with the Queen casino and was very pleased with it. When the poker clubs go legal, that will be a different story and we can go back to the negotiations table. Until then, my partner is the casino at Howard Johnson Hotel and we are doing great. Now, it is too early to talk about a cooperation for a poker club, as long as such institution is not legal in Romania.

Q: As you know, our publication, ‚Casino Life & Business Magazine’ turned five years of existence and, on this occasion, it has many premieres. One would be the change into a monthly magazine, another is the ‚Poker News’, a column written by the people of Holdem.ro, the first and the largest online poker community of players in Romania. Any thoughts about this new editorial?
A: It is more than welcomed, since poker is in great demand right now. Every one is interested in poker news and the team at Holdem.ro are very professional – they have improved the site a lot recently. It is indeed a large community of poker players who access the site daily for the poker news and the cooperation is desirable for both partners. It is a ‚win-win’ situation, where everyone can take an advantage from it.

Q: What does Sorin Constantinescu think about the opening of the sport poker clubs in the country? Are they nurseries of players for PokerFest?
A: Any poker-related activity is a potential nursery for PokerFest. The more people start loving poker and playing it, the more players will register for the monthly tournaments.

Q: Is there any connections between PokerFest and the National Sport Poker Federation?
A: We have no trading relations, as we operate based on a license issued by the Department of Finance – gambling license – while the Federation is more on the sport side of this game. So, there would be two contradicting institutions that would not work together well.

Q: What does Sorin Constantinescu think would help PokerFest tournament be better than now?
A:As I said earlier, it is a must to bring foreigners in. This is my target for this summer. To travel abroad, anywhere I can and bring them here. I was in Vienna, at the ‚Concord’ Club – I think it is the largest network of poker clubs in that part of Europe. The owners have 5 or 6 more clubs in some neigboring countries. They have a million dollars for that tournament, after 10 years in the business. They opened an online site, which we have to affiliate with as we are doing satellites with them.
CEO of Concord visited Bucharest a few days ago, during the PokerFest tournament. I really hope to sign a contract in the near future. The document will stipulate that we will have to send players to each other. In other words, to have satellites to quality players for their major events and they will bring us players via their satellites – organized by them online or advertised in their poker clubs.

Q: What are our players saying about the PokerFest tournament, about playing against the newcomers all the time?
A: The newcomers are welcome. They are beginners, fresh meat and ‚flexible’ in giving their chips away. I do not want to sound mean, but newcomers are a good filter, as the big ones think, and the latter have a better chance at winning more easily.
But, it could happen that a newcomer has good luck and ‚enters the money’ or sits at the Final Table – more rarely, though. As a rule, the big players end in ‚in the money’.

Q: As a President and Promoter of the PokerFest tournament, can you give us a guess about the number of participants for the year 2013?
A: It is very difficult. The crisis is growing, and so are the fluctuations. The big tournaments, like WSOP, EPT, EUREKA, etc, all went down by 20-30% in the number of participants. Even now, at the last tournament in Bucharest, the number did not even reached a quarter in the results that showed at the ‚cash’ tables during the previous event. Crisis has touched hard the people’s pocket. Even though you are crazy about the game, you cannot play without a certain amount of money. So, let me be a little skeptical and refrain myself from giving you numbers – there is a lot of economic instability in the entire Europe.

Q: For the final, can you tell us something original that happened this half of the year, or a question I have not asked you?
A: I do not intend to brag about it, but people came to me and said,’Thank you for doing PokerFest. You have changed my life’ and things like this.
There was a player, who comes to all our tournaments, an older gentleman in the Cluj area, who said,’Sir, I used to be a bad-ass player, was arguing with my wife, looking for clinics to go to and get treatment. PokerFest really saved my life, I quit all those games where I was losing a lot of money. Now I can talk to people and have fun.’ For me, it was really nice to hear that.
People who come to PokerFest are special people, respectful people. Business people, easy going and pleasant to see every time they come back.

Q:Thank you and good luck from now on!
A: Same to you!

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