The good news is that London has a new poker room. It is run by Roy Houghton, one of the most experienced card-room managers in the country. The location is the Stakis Regency Club at 61-62 Russell Square WC1 (0171- 833 1881). Low-stakes tournaments, Hold 'em, Omaha and Seven-card stud are held four nights a week, Mondays through Thursdays, plus of course cash games.

Best of all, Roy has had the bright idea of holding a Hold 'em tournament for beginners, every Wednesday night, to attract new players. A lot of people who know a little about poker, but are not too sure of the rules of the modern game, think they would enjoy playing if they got the chance. Some players might feel slightly nervous the first time they venture into a casino card room - all those hard-eyed pros, waiting around to pluck the pigeons! No need to worry on his occasion. A beginners' tournament, with an entry fee of pounds 5, is not going to break anyone, while giving all concerned a good time. I mean why gamble at Casino Stud when you can play the real thing?

Autumn indeed is the season of tournaments. For players contemplating a late European vacation, there are major tournaments at Casino Bregenz, Austria (11-14 September), Aviation Club de France, Paris (21-28 September), and the City Card Casino in Salzburg (29 September-5 October), which form a convenient triangle for a European swing. I have also received details of the open Swedish championship (13-14 September); for those seeking hotter action, the Swedish draw poker championship is held in Marbella (3-10 October). All these casinos will help players book hotel rooms at modest prices. Closer to home, the Grosvenor Victoria in Edgware Road, London, stages its popular Oktoberfest from 7-12 October, as well as its regular tournaments.

Details of all these events and much else, compiled by the European Poker Players' Association (EPPA), can be found on the Internet at: Yes, there is plenty of action around. If British card rooms could advertise in listings magazines, as will be allowed if ever the new Home Office proposals pass into law, poker will tap the popular support that is certainly out there.