Torrelodones is a municipality located in the northwest of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, about 30 km from the city centre. Due to its location between the 'Sierra de Guadarrama' and the suburbs of the capital, Torrelodones has both an agricultural side and an urban metropolitan aspect with excellent connections to the centre for the seven small towns that make it up.
The inhabitants of Torrelodones earn, on average, one of the highest per capita incomes in the Autonomous Community of Madrid and in Spain. It is therefore no coincidence that the "Casino Gran Madrid" group decided to build a casino here. Services, hotels and construction are the main economic sectors of the area and the area is mainly residential with commercial service centres and lots of nature with numerous hiking trails.
Most of the wealthy are still rich and continue their beautiful lives in this privileged area of Madrid's suburbs. The houses and villas are organised in private neighbourhoods, with checkpoints and guards at the entrance of these huge estates. Alongside this pretty, artificial but luxurious way of life, however, is the fact that the Spanish economy has taken heavy blows from the series of financial ups and downs since 2008.
In the wet dreams of some politicians and lobbyists, the Torrelodones area was to become one of the hotspots for conferences and business meetings in Greater Madrid. Given its location on the A6 motorway and easy access to the city centre or the airport at about the same distance, the big urbanist bets made since the 1970s and 1980s have not paid off so far. Although the area is extremely pleasant due to its proximity to nature and the numerous parks and golf courses, many businesses and office spaces have apparently been vacant for some time, and some of the numerous dilapidated company buildings are occupied by homeless people. At no time was it dangerous or uncomfortable but there are signs that are not deceiving.
As I stayed in Las Rozas this time, I went hiking in the area of the 'Presa de El Gasco' and visited the 'New Madrid Golf Club'. The Gasco Dam (Presa de El Gasco) is located on the river 'Guadarrama' near Galapagar in the vicinity of Las Rozas and broke shortly before its completion on 14 May 1799. The wall was just over 50 metres high at the time of the catastrophe and was actually supposed to reach a total height of over 90 metres. The capacity of the reservoir would have been 22.5 million m³. Construction was abandoned afterwards and the ruins are still there today.
During my last stays I mostly stayed in Torrelodone's Hotel Pax, closer to the famous 'Torre' and closer to the 'Palacio del Canto de Pico' , Franco's former private house, which is now simply left to curious wanderers and graffiti artists after several failed restoration attempts of museum or hotel projects.
The casino is located in one of these hubs and is on the motorway, making it virtually impossible to access without a car. Car hire or a taxi budget is therefore usually necessary to play here, which can be a bit of a nuisance if you plan to stay longer. The casino offers traditional casino games including poker from 2/5 in NLH and PLO formats. Although the casino is excellent for large poker events with a capacity of more than 70 tables, the house is struggling to host tournament series again after the pandemic. This is mainly due to chronic post-pandemic staffing shortages in terms of floors and dealers. The organisers who stop here usually bring a lot of staff with them.
Some Winamax events sometimes take place here and other big PokerStars events like the 'Road to PSPC' tournament in a few weeks. CNP stops here once a year for the Grand Season Finale. Other than for festivals, however, there's almost nothing going on here poker-wise. There are not even cash games every weekend.
Torrelodones neighbouring municipalities are 'Hoyo de Manzanares' to the north, 'Las Rozas de Madrid' to the south, 'Galapagar' to the west and Madrid to the east. The name 'Torrelodones' (Lodones Tower) comes from the Moorish watchtower used during the Al-Andalus period to guard the city and defend it against Christian attacks during the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula (8th and 9th centuries). 'Lodon' (hackberry) is also a tree species that used to be abundant here.
Right now the CNP Gran Final 2022 is in full swing at the Casino Gran Madrid Torrelodones. This year, the Spanish poker tour has completed its 10th season and they are celebrating together with 888poker, the 20th anniversary of the online poker provider.
The €150 opener was a huge success with 604 entrants and the 888live Anniversary €1,100 tournament recorded a staggering 374 entrants, promising €70,000 in prize money for the winner - all without a guaranteed prize pool, which is one of the special features of the CNP Tour.
The 888live event was also an opportunity to introduce new ambassador Lucia Navarro and meet the rest of the 888poker ambassador and pro team.
The Main Event also began with a strong Day 1A on Wednesday. 165 entrants came together and there were 5 flights in total before Day 2 takes place over the weekend. This Wednesday was also the start of 5 days of live coverage which will be available on the 888poker Twitch.
I spent the first five days of the festival in Madrid, mainly photographing and reporting on all kinds of parapoker activities that are on the CNP Gran Final programme. Padel is absolutely popular in Spain and Portugal. There are public padel courts in many cities, and more and more members of the poker community are using it as a challenge to compete in this explosive sport. From there, it was easy to create this event, which has its own organising team and specific sponsors and partnerships. The ego-measurements took place at the "La Nave" Padel Club, and the competition was fierce although there is actually nothing to win financially. The prize money consists of small prizes or padel equipment and there is a trophy for the winners. Enough to motivate two to three dozen Spaniards to enter the tournament at 9.30am.
MORE PADEL PICS ON THE CNP FLICKR
The event in memory of Francisco Alvarez is a matter of the heart. Francisco was a beloved member of the CNP community who sadly passed away during the pandemic. This event was the first in a series of events to celebrate his life and life in general, and to continue doing what Francisco loved most: playing poker and football.
MORE FOOTBALL PICS ON THE CNP FLICKR
In general, the CNP community is a fun group that I enjoy hanging out with. It consists of a healthy mix of professionals and recreational players of all ages. I had the pleasure of having dinner with Fernando Pons after the padel event. He has been one of 888poker's ambassadors in Spain since he was able to complete one of the 2016 November Niners at the WSOP in Las Vegas. He is genuinely amazed at how much more work and effort than five years ago the young pros have to put in to dominate the poker fields. He doesn't like that so much, of course, but he also explained that he would have liked to have been part of groups of players like this in the past, when he was younger and more active in the poker scene.
MORE THAN JUST POKER
No one gets paid to participate in CNP except the staff, there are no real VIPs and no guarantees for the events. Jaime Sanchez is walking a pretty lonely path there in the poker landscape, but the founder and captain of the CNP ship believes that it is the product that must attract his customers and partners. The players looking for big guarantees and potential overlays with little or mediocre service know where to go. What CNP offers is different and encompasses more than just the poker game, including simple things like lunch together at a nice local restaurant before the card game. These grassroots interactions within a naturally formed group of professionals, recreational players and business people united by a love of poker and competition in general make the CNP family a very enjoyable group of people to be around and confirm my idea that poker communities are built around something other than the actual game. It is often not poker that allows people to socialise with affection and respect. It usually happens with other things that happen around the card game.
The main focus for the rest of the week is on the already very promising Main Event, which is probably on course to set a record. In addition, there are also numerous interesting side events to come.
All the information can be found on the Circuito Nacional de Poker website and the brand is also very active on social media along with 888poker. Twitter is much bigger in Spain than in many other countries in Europe when it comes to poker updates. There is a lot of tweeting in the Spanish poker community and CNP can be followed at @CNP_poker.
The schedule for Season 11 was officially released a few days ago, and it's likely that the CNP crew will be heading back to South America soon. I accompanied them in Colombia last October and published a detailed trip report with photos and personal impressions.
All my Madrid photos can be found in my photo archive for those who enjoy looking at poker and travel photography, and I also suggest continuing to keep up to date in my Poker Trips section for upcoming CNP promos and travel opportunities for 2023.
Hasta luego, chicos!
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