Poker on a Cruise Ship

Playing Poker on a Cruise Ship

What a combination: playing poker and being on a cruise ship.

Card Player Magazine, one of the premier poker magazines out of Las Vegas, enlists Linda Johnson (“The First Lady of Poker”) as the honcho on Card Player Cruises. She has run more than 40 of them and knows her business.

More than that, she also knows Card Player Magazine, having been the owner for eight years prior to 2001. She sold out, but kept the rights to the cruises. Good idea!

This former postal worker from southern California entered the ladies event of the World Series of Poker in the early 80’s, placed fifth, quit her job, and moved to Vegas to play poker full-time.

Her poker cruises go where most cruises go: Transatlantic, the Mexican Riviera, the Caribbean, Alaska, Russia, and South America. On a recent Mexican cruise, most of the players were beginners, booking to see what the poker phenomenon was all about and to pick up some tequila, high quality silver jewelry, and perhaps a sombrero.

About 25-40% of the passengers have booked for the poker element. So, the poker player in your family can play while at sea while the Significant Other catches some rays in a lounge chair by the pool. Something for everybody as long as you are 18 years or older.

Lou Krieger, author of “Poker for Dummies,” offers onboard seminars. A beginner can take some lessons and immediately start playing in a low limit game. There are tournaments with great cash prizes. The non-smoking poker room is prepared to offer any game, at any limit, that players want.

Linda Johnson also steps ashore from time to time. She holds the annual Linda Johnson Celebrity Challenge Poker Tournament at the Casino Europa in San Jose, Costa Rica each summer. A number of poker games, including the popular No Limit Texas Hold ‘em game, is offered. Such poker stars as Daniel Negreanu (“Kid Poker”) and World Series of Poker winner Scotty Nguyen hop planes and head south to help Linda out.

You might also recognize Linda as the onstage announcer (Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten sit offstage) at televised World Series of Poker events. She is the one who says, “Shuffle Up and Deal,” and calls the action at the tables.

There is another kind of poker played on another kind of cruise event that Linda also runs. In conjunction with the World Poker Tour (WPT), an annual No Limit Texas Hold ‘em tournament has been held on chartered – just for the poker gang – Holland America ships.

In 2004, Erick Lindgren beat his best buddy, Daniel Negreanu, to snag a million dollar prize on a WPT Mexican cruise. Negreanu didn’t hold his defeat against Lindgren: soon after, Erick was Daniel’s best man at his wedding to Lori.

Back to the cruise and Erick’s victory: to celebrate, he ordered drinks for the house in The Crow’s Nest Bar on the ship, the beautiful MS Ryndam. It seemed like a good idea at the time, maybe until Erick woke up the next morning (or was it afternoon?), to discover a receipt for a $22,000 bar tab by his bed.