Season 10 of the PokerStars sponsored European Poker Tour (EPT) came flying out of the blocks with superb attendances in the Catalan capital of Barcelona. The Englishman, Tom Middleton, walked away with the hardware, and €942,000 in prize money, and it’s off to England that the tour next plods, with the London Poker Festival set to run Oct 2-12.
PokerStars may dominate the online poker news, but they know a thing or two about hosting a quality live tournament as well. For instance, they have learned that poker player’s don’t like to be treated like a tin of sardines, and have moved the event to the more spacious surroundings of the Grand Connaught Rooms in London’s Covent Garden.
The United Kingdom & Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT) will be amalgamated with the EPT to produce 36 events spanning the 10-days of operation. The £1,100 UKIPT Main Event is already underway, the £50k Super High Roller starts on Fri 4th Oct and the £5,250 EPT Main Event starts on Sun 6th Oct.
A full schedule of events can be found here.
The London stop has been on the tour since its inception back in 2004. Back then it was known as the European Poker Classic, and the Grosvenor Victoria Casino (The Vic) was the venue.
175 people paid the £3,000 asking price to participate in the main event, and John Shipley was triumphant on a final table that included five British players, as he earned £200k for the win that came just two years after he made the final table of the 2002 $10,000 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event, where he finished seventh for $125k.
The first EPT London final table included the two Dutchmen Noah Boeken (6th) and Marcel Luske (7th).
There were three main changes in the second season. Sponsors were brought in for the first time as the event was given the title The Grosvenor World Masters; the number of entries increased to 242 players and we had a new winner when Mark Teltscher took first place for £280,000.
It was Teltscher’s first live cash of a controversial career, and just three months later he would cash in his second live event – once again in winning style – as he took down the Five Diamond Classic at the Bellagio for $374,965.
Teltscher would go on to record an impressive 11th place finish at the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo for $40,350 that year, and came close to becoming the first player to win two EPT titles when he finished runner up to Sander Lyloff at EPT Barcelona in Season 4.
Teltscher’s career was then shrouded in controversy after his name was connected to a multi accounting scandal during the 2007 World Champions of Online Poker (WCOOP).
Team PokerStars Pro, Victoria Coren, became the third consecutive British winner, and the first female EPT winner, when she outlasted 398 players to take the top prize of £500k in an event called The European Poker Championships.
Coren detailed her amazing run in her book For Richer, For Poorer: Confessions of a Player, which was released circa 2011. Chad Brown finished in 5th place; Neil Channing finished 13th and the son of Duchess of Cornwall, Tom Parker Bowles, finished in 15th.
Joseph Mouawad became the first foreigner to win an EPT London event, when he took down the Season 4 European Championships for £611,520, and just like Mark Teltscher, he did so in his first-ever live tournament cash.
It was the first time that the EPT had increased their buy-in to £5.4k, but it didn’t have that much of an effect on numbers, with 392 players continuing what must at the time have been perceived as continued progress in the attendance fields given the bump in buy-in.
Mouawad defeated the German Florian Langmann in heads up action on a final table that also included Antony Lellouche (6th). Surinder Sunar finished 12th and there was a 14th place finish from the former Millwall and Rep Ireland striker Tony Cascarino.
The European Championships of Season 5 will always be remembered as the main event that dished out the biggest first prize in EPT London main event history.
The American Michael Martin topping a European Vacation that made Chevy Chase’s seem dull and uninspiring after finishing 2nd in the Amsterdam Masters Classics for €368,080 and 5th in the EPT Grand Final in Monte Carlo for €421,000, before taking home the £1m first prize in London.
An incredible 596 players turned up at The Vic and Martin did it the hard way, having to get through Michael Tureniec (2nd), Marcin Horecki (3rd), Johannes Strassman (7th) and Antony Lellouche (8th).
Lellouche was making consecutive back-to-back EPT London final tables and little did Tureniec know it, but he was so close to becoming a two-time EPT champion when he would later be victorious at EPT Copenhagen in Season 7.
Once the field size topped 500 players it became obvious that the Vic was struggling to cope. With this in mind Season 6 switched to The Hilton Metropole, and it was a good job it did, as 730 players continued the year-on-year attendance increase as they each paid the £5,250 to create a first prize of £850k.
For the third consecutive year the trophy would head outside of the British coastline when American Aaron Gustavson took the crown after a heads-up encounter with the 2008 WSOP Main Event champion Peter Eastgate.
A certain Benjamin Spindler would rue his bad luck when finishing in 12th position, but his day would soon come.
Season 7 remains the most successful EPT London Main Event to date in terms of attendance, after 848 players paid £5,250 to create a first prize of £900k. It was also the breakout performance for David Vamplew who would become one of the 2013 players of the year in terms of live tournament results.
The Scotsman’s win was a real Rocky Balboa story as he overcame the vastly more experienced John Juanda in heads-up action to take the title on a final table that also included Kyle Bowker (3rd), Fernando Brito (6th) and Tom Marchese (7th).
It took Black Friday to halt the ever-growing EPT London attendance graph, but despite the loss of online qualifiers, there were still 691 entrants when Benny Spindler finally grabbed a major title and a £750k first prize.
The online high stakes player would defeat Steve O’Dwyer in heads up action at a time when German Poker was seemingly unstoppable (not much has changed there). O’Dwyer’s runner-up spot would send him on a run that would see him win $4.7m in live tournament earnings that included a second EPT London final table in Season 9, before finally taking the top spot in the EPT Grand Final of that very year.
Former Team PokerStars Pro, Ruben Visser, was the victor in last year’s main event after qualifying for peanuts whilst playing online in his home country of Holland.
647 players crammed back into The Vic as PokerStars shipped shop after two seasons at the Hilton Metropole, and that created a first prize of £595k.
Visser had to mow his way through one of the toughest EPT final tables you will see with Theo Jorgensen (4th), Steve O’Dwyer (5th) and Chris Moorman (8th) all present and correct.
To be continued….