By Jack Sawyer
PokerStars European Poker Tour
The European Poker Tour is one of the premier series of tournaments that occur on a yearly basis. As poker exploded in popularity due to what is now being called the Moneymaker-effect, a number of live televised poker tournaments have sprung up. The European Poker Tour (EPT) is today one of the most popular and well known since its relatively modest beginnings in 2004. Many of the game’s greats including Patrick Antonius, Gavin Griffin and Jason Mercier have made their names through their participation in the EPT.
The EPT is currently in its 6th season. In seasons 1 through 3, the biggest difference between the EPT and the World Poker Tour (WPT) was the buy-ins for the related events, which were about half that of comparable WPT events. From season 4 onward, the buy-in to most of the EPT events was raised to about €8,000. This increase was mostly due to the increase in popularity of the WPT and lack of space in the participating casinos in the chosen venues.
And speaking about venues: the EPT takes place, just as its name suggests it, in many European countries each season. The Bahamas also has a stop on the tour, the only non-European one, and is one of the most popular ones. But far and away the most popular EPT event is the €10,600 buy-in Grand Final in Monaco.
The tour was created by famed English pro poker player and TV director John Duthie, winner of the inaugural Poker Million tournament. He is credited as being the founder and the CEO of the tour, and thus cannot participate himself because of conflicts of interest. Duthie is also a PokerStars sponsored pro.
Getting into the EPT can be done in two ways: you can either buy in directly or win your seat by participating in one of the various satellites offered by different poker sites, the most popular of which being the PokerStars Steps system. How the system works: basically you have to work your win from step 1 to a step 6. Placing ITM in the 6th step means you got your live tourney package courtesy of PokerStars. Each step is played in a SNG format, the most popular of which being 9 man but there are also 27 man and 180 man steps available at various buy-ins. The 6th step is almost always a ten man SNG, but you also get it in 10-man and 12-man variants (depending on the prize of the package), and always costs $2,100 to play. Step 1 can be played for either $7.50 or 500 FPPs.
EPT Season 1 (2004/2005)
The inaugural EPT drew just about 1,468 players total, of which 350 were PokerStars qualifiers. The total prize pool amounted to €4,780,972. There were only No-Limit Hold’em events held, and the top prize awarded in the tournament was given out to Dutchman Rob Hollink. He took home €635,000 for dominating the field in the €10,000 Grand Final.
Events were held in Spain, United Kingdom, Denmark, France, Austria and Monte Carlo.
EPT Season 1 Tournaments and Winners
EPT Season 2 (2005/2006)
The following year, the total amount of players drawn by the tour was 2,009, which is almost a 50% increase over the previous year. The total number of PokerStars qualifiers was 464, but the total prize pool almost doubled to about €9,824,000. The Flying Finn Patrick Antonius also claims his very own win at the EPT Baden Classic, taking home €218,990 for his efforts. Jeff Williams takes down the biggest prize in that year’s EPT, with a win the Monte Carlo Grand Final for an exact €900,000.
The same countries were represented again, some in different cities, except France: the bleu-blanc-rouge took a pass this time.
EPT Season 2 Tournaments and Winners
EPT Season 3 (2006/2007)
This season was marked by the first 7-figure cashes (I’m talking about Euro’s obviously, a very strong currency) as won by Gavin Griffin. This season also saw his emergence on the tourney poker scene, characterized by having pink hair. Vicky Coren also wrote her name in the record books by taking home the EPT London title, becoming the first woman to have ever done that. 3,481 players representing 75 different nationalities participated in that years’ EPT, and the event boasted of a combined prize pool of €19,571,000.
Poland and Germany joined the previous countries with venues of their own.
EPT Season 3 Tournaments and Winners
EPT Season 4 (2007/2008)
The fourth season of the European Poker Tour saw an interesting addition, which proved to be one of the most popular tournaments of the year. And funnily enough, while it’s a part of the EPT, it’s venue is not located in Europe at all, but rather in the Paradise Island Casino and the Cable Beach Casino on the beautiful island of the Bahamas. The number of players who participated at the various events once again increased dramatically; 5,902 players of again 75 different nationalities took part. The total prize pool for all events also nearly doubled to a staggering €38,248,788.
ElkY, a former professional StarCraft player, launched into stardom this season because he was also the first player to reach SuperNova Elite on PokerStars and he took down the first ever PokerStars Caribbean Adventure. He has shown the world that he’s a tournament force to be reckoned with.
Aside from the Bahamas, Italy also joined the list of host countries hosting two tourneys. In the EPT San Remo of this season, local favorite and PokerStars Pro Dario Minieri came just short of taking down the whole thing, finishing in a relatively disappointing third. That event was won by another tournament beast that also showed his prowess by being one of the top earners in the whole EPT: Jason Mercier.
The Czech Republic also joined the mix.
EPT Season 4 Tournaments and Winners
EPT Season 5 (2008/2009)
And the attendance keeps increasing, just as it has done every single year before this one. This time, 7,901 representing 97 different countries participated; the total prize pool was a mind boggling €54,940,712. Several new events got added to the list, including the EPT LONDON £1 MILLION SHOWDOWN which guaranteed a one million pound prizepool highlighted by a £20,000 buy-in and the PCA High Rollers which had a $25,00 buy-in.
ElkY once again showed what he’s made of and took down the PCA High Rollers event for a cool $433,500 payday. Jason Mercier once again showcased his tournament prowess by taking down the inaugural EPT LONDON £1 MILLION SHOWDOWN and took home a cool £516,000 in the process. Sandra Naujoks became the second woman ever to take down a title, dominating the field in her German home-turf and taking home €917,000 for her efforts. It was a truly wonderful season, and demonstrated to many that poker is indeed a skill game more than it is a luck game.
Hungary and France also joined the list of venues.
EPT Season 5 Tournaments and Winners
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