‘People Have Missed the Live Communication, the Cards, the Game, the Poker Atmosphere’ – Olga Mikhalyuk, Co-Organizer of Cash Game Weekend Poker Festival
In August, Batumi hosted Cash Game Weekend festival, where gamblers from different countries of the world gathered to play poker.
Co-organizer of the event Olga Mikhalyuk became a guest of UGW Insider podcast. In an interview with Ukrainian Gaming Week 2021 Brand Ambassador Lavrentiy Gubin, the expert talked about how the poker events sphere is recovering after quarantine restrictions and explained why Georgia has been chosen as the venue for Cash Game Weekend. She also shared where the next festival will take place and announced plans for holding poker events in Ukraine.
The interviewer: Lavrentiy Gubin (L.G.).
The respondent: Olga Mikhalyuk (O.M.).
L.G.: Olga, we would like to talk about the current situation in poker, in cash games, during this first positive time after the pandemic, a kind of recovery. What's going on? Could you share your opinion?
O.M.: To be honest, as organizers and as guests of the festival, we are now in a kind of euphoria after this long quarantine, after the lockdown when we had to cancel literally everything at the last moment, we had to survive and suffer for a year and a half without live poker.
This influenced many people. Lots of them left to play online. But now, fortunately, this year we managed to open and re-launch our series. And we are happy to welcome all guests. We are holding the second festival in a row this year. The first one took place in June, now it’s time for the next one.
And with each festival, the demand is growing more and more. And this necessity, so to speak, – people missed the live communication, the cards, the game, the poker atmosphere. Starting tomorrow, we’re launching the Cash series within Cash Game Weekend festival.
But the guests arrived a few days earlier to enjoy this communication, to have the opportunity to stay longer, play, take a walk, relax, and eat in restaurants. To get all those emotions that were missing for a year and a half.
L.G.: I know that you organize your events in different countries. What’s the most comfortable place for you now? Where are the most comfortable working conditions?
O.M.: We have been working in Georgia for several years. In Tbilisi, in Batumi. This is a wonderful country. There has not been a single guest yet, not a single participant of the festival who would say that they didn’t like it, or they weren’t satisfied. So, it is very comfortable to work here.
The people here are hospitable. Somehow everything is easy for us. And in terms of post-quarantine, of course, Georgia is now relatively easy to get to. This is an open country.
Basically, there are no special restrictions here. You have to wear a mask, you have to show a negative test, and generally that's it. This makes the job very easy. Because there are countries that are not available at the moment, unfortunately.
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L.G.: Ukraine and Georgia are now perceived by many operators as some kind of competitors for the player in this part of the world. Do you look at Ukraine as a direction for your own development?
O.M.: Of course, we are considering Ukraine, and we are very glad that poker is finally legalized and there is an opportunity to hold events officially and nicely.
So that no one feels uncomfortable in terms of the organizers, in terms of the players who fly in from abroad, knowing that there may be something illegal. This, of course, always makes impact.
Thus, in this context Ukraine is now as attractive as Georgia, of course. And I think that in the future, we will definitely consider options for holding our festivals in Ukraine. I think that we will be talking about this topic in the nearest future.
By the way, I also plan to visit the series in Odesa that will take place at the end of August. This is an exciting event that I am already looking forward to. Because I was in Odesa about 4 years ago for the last time, if I'm not mistaken.
This is a wonderful city, a great place for poker tournaments. I think that all guests of this event would really be thrilled to join.
L.G.: Do you see a lot of players from Ukraine at your events?
O.M.: There are many players. Because direct flights are very convenient, 2 hours only. Yesterday I flew here from Kyiv, board, exit, and you are already in Batumi.
Thus, we have a lot of requests. Guys arrive from different cities, not only from Kyiv. Also Kharkiv, Odesa, Lviv, from all cities where you can book a flight in Ukraine, from everywhere.
L.G.: What are your plans for the near future? Could you share the location of the following festival? Where could it take place in the nearest future?
O.M.: In the near future, there will be a festival in Batumi. While it is summer season, we try to work in the resort city.
Thus, there will be an opportunity not only to play poker and spend time in the casino, but also to spend time on the beach, walking, chilling and visiting various landmarks.
And starting from the autumn, we are planning to hold it in Tbilisi, in the capital. It will generally be an autumn-winter format of events.
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