South Africa is remote the same way Australia is remote; impossibly far from everywhere at once.
There’s always high expectations for anywhere that takes 15 hours to reach. That’s the flight time from Atlanta to Johannesburg, where the World Poker Tour was holding their annual event at the Emperor’s Palace Casino. I suppose if you’re from Tanzania it’s not so bad—otherwise, I hope you can sleep on planes.
The payoff for your patience is the diverse range of experiences offered exclusively in South Africa; which Emperor’s Palace will facilitate. Want to pet some endangered species? Booked. Want to see the house Mandela lived in? We’ll get the car. Want to watch lions roam through the countryside? Your safari leaves in the morning.
Johannesburg is the largest land-locked city in the world, and despite it’s sprawling nature, everywhere you look is green and brown and earthy. The exception is the city-center, which is condensed with skyscrapers that are dwarfed by the iconic Hillbrow Tower. And while the city is busy, much of the nighttime activities are in neighborhoods further out from the center, like Melville and Melrose Arch. That’s where you’ll find boutique restaurants, that somehow offer better food than their American counterparts at a fraction of the price. South Africa is definitely a carnivorous country, and whether it’s land or sea, anything you want to eat—that was once alive—is obtainable.
The remoteness also affords an advantage for any traveling poker players; the place is so hard to reach that few make the effort, resulting in a poker tournament nearly devoid of professionals. Poker is a relatively new game in South Africa, and many of the local players are casual and there for the competition. I went there undecided on whether I’d re-enter if I busted; the uncertainty was erased after an hour on the table.
So do yourself a favor: get on the damn plane and watch some movies, you’ll be there in no time. After that, the hard part is over.
For more information on the upcoming WPT Emperors Palace Poker Classic (October 23 – November 1), head here. World Poker Tour is making traveling to events easier than ever – book your stay now with WPT Travel.