The Nigerian Poker Scene

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When the global poker industry is discussed, conversation usually turns to the changing gambling landscape in North America or the evolving poker scene in Europe.

One continent that is almost never discussed is Africa, a huge continent with a thriving poker scene that boasts some of the best poker players on the planet.

In this article we will attempt to right that wrong by delving into the bustling poker scene of one of Africa’s richest countries – Nigeria.

Famous Nigerian Poker Stars

There are hundreds of Nigerian poker players representing the country in far-flung tournaments all around the world. The most famous of all though is Dany Chidiac who is top of the Nigerian All Time Money List.

Chidiac plays a lot of his poker online but he has been seen at some illustrious tournaments in Europe and North America. In 2018 he was in the news for all the wrong reasons when he invested $11,000 to see a Queen Diamond, Jack Diamond and Seven Heart flop in a major tournament in Barcelona.

Excited by the cards, he quickly moved all-in to $24,000 but was defeated by Seamus Cahill who drew a flush and scooped over half a million in chips as the tournament progressed. 

Since then Chidiac has spent time refining his skills online and looks ready to hit the worldwide tournament scene when the world returns to normal in the coming months.

Before jumping the gun and going all-in at his next tournament table, Chidiac should have a look at these poker quotes to gain a bit of wisdom from the game’s greats.

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Nigeria’s Land-Based Poker Scene

For a country with the resources of Nigeria it is somewhat of a disappointment to look at the scarcity of land-based gambling venues in the country.

In total, Nigeria boasts only a handful of land-based casinos with the majority being located in the capital Abuja and the country’s largest city Lagos.

The Federal Palace Hotel & Casino is the largest land-based casino in the country. Situated in Lagos, the casino has amazing décor and attentive staff, but a surprising lack of gaming variety.

In total, the casino boasts only 10 table games in addition to 106 video slot machines, some way short of what you would expect from a super casino.

Despite Nigeria’s lack of large-scale casinos there is a thriving poker scene, which can be witnessed in some of the country’s casinos or in purpose-built poker halls.

The Lagos Poker Club is perhaps the best known of these purpose built venues, delighting cards lovers with regular tournaments as well as run-of-the-mill cash tables. If you’re a beginner looking to start out in poker, do be aware that Lagos Poker Club usually tends to attract seasoned card-sharks!

Nigeria has a couple of great land-based casinos, but perhaps not as many as you would expect from such a large and rich country

Online Poker in Nigeria

Thirty, even twenty years ago it would have been almost impossible for people in Edo State to test their mettle against the best poker players in Nigeria, let alone in the world.

Now however, that is easier than ever before with the internet opening up whole new areas of expansion for poker. As mentioned earlier in the article, Dany Chidiac is a fan of online poker as are most of the world’s best players.

Playing online allows them 24/7 access to a range of poker rooms and tournaments both here in Nigeria and further afield. 

It isn’t just the top poker players that are playing online either, a recent study showed that over a third of all Nigerians have gambled online at one point, with a majority of them citing poker as their gambling passion of choice.

Online poker also gives Nigerians access to the best online poker companies on the planet as well as home grown companies. With such a sparsity of land-based venues around the country, online poker rooms are proving to be the new breeding ground for Nigeria’s next generation of pro poker players.

Online poker is allowing Nigerians to test themselves against the best players in the world from the comfort of their smartphones

Nigerian Poker Tournaments

Unfortunately at the time of writing it is difficult to analyse if or when Nigeria will host globally reputable poker tournaments. However, in recent years African poker has risen to the attention of governing bodies like the World Series of Poker (WSOP).

Within the past decade, an African leg of the WSOP was added to the tour circuit with subsequent tournaments taking place sporadically throughout the 2010s.

South Africa has been the main beneficiary of Africa’s increased global poker exposure, but in the future, hopes are high of Nigeria hosting a number of new World Tour events.

In the medium to long-term future, the increase in Nigerian online poker players will hopefully convince more and more companies to choose the country as a host of glamorous tournaments.

Whilst it is tempting to look toward the future with pessimism, there is however, plenty to look forward to for Nigerian cards lovers.

In Summary

Nigeria may be Africa’s richest country, but the country does lag behind in terms of land-based gambling venues, especially in comparison to the countries on the south of the continent.

Despite this, a flourishing community of Nigerian poker players has emerged over the past few decades and we can expect more of that in the future.

The internet has made up for Nigeria’s land-based shortcomings and in years to come we should see more Nigerian players represented the country on the global stage and a greater recognition of Nigerian poker by organisations such as the WSOP.

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