The European Poker Tour, or EPT for short, is a regional version of the World Poker Tour. EPT was first created in 2004 and was done so in response to the massive increase in the popularity of Texas Hold’em poker. Since its initial inception, the EPT is now broadcast all over Europe by Sunset + Vine, who first tapes the event before sending it for editing and broadcasting.
Over the years, there have been many seasons that have evolved the tournament into different forms from one year to the next. For the first three seasons, the buy-in threshold for the EPT was about half that of the buy-ins for WPT. This was considered one of the EPT’s defining characteristics and distinguished them from other tournaments with much higher buy-ins.
Starting in season four, this discrepancy was largely corrected. The main alleged justification for this was the massive increase in the tournament as well as how crowded the affiliate casinos were becoming. Another noticeable difference that still exists is the number of players in the final round, which is eight for the EPT as opposed to six in the world version.
Some Brief History of Commentators
In the beginning seasons of the EPT, John Duthie decided to commentate alongside co-host Collin Murray. John Duthie is himself the original creator of the EPT. As such, the fact that he wanted to guide the tournament in such an active participating role was considered significant by many in the industry.
Starting sometime during the running of the third season, James Hartigan was tapped to become the lead commentator of EPT. Hartigan himself had made a name in journalism and broadcasting prior to this role. By taking on this leading role at the EPT, Hartigan later went on to branch out from his original set of professions into poker commentary as well.
A number of other professional poker players were also invited to join in on commentating. Household names such as Greg Raymer, Daniel Negreanu, and Victoria Coren were just some of the well-known poker players that spent time on EPT providing expert analysis on each game and the trends of each season.
In addition to leading the commentary, James Hartigan also hosts the live webcast of each individual event of the tournament. Along with many other famous professional commentators, Hartigan continues to play a central role in presenting the EPT to viewers, presenting the TV show alongside Joe Stapleton as of the writing of this piece.
Over the more than decade and a half of the tournament’s history, there have been quite a number of events that have been worthy of note. Some were considered desirable. Others, most certainly not so. As of writing this, there are two noteworthy historic events that have taken place at the EPT that have garnered significant media headlines.
The Berlin Heist
In March of 2010, the EPT event taking place in Berlin was rocked by an attempted robbery. The four assailants wore masks to the event. As far as the public has been informed, the robbers were armed with knives and at least one of them was also carrying a handgun.
The criminals were able to escape the scene without being arrested on the spot. According to the official police statement, they were able to get away with 242,000 Euros in stolen money from the event. Fortunately, besides a single guard sustaining a minor cut from trying to capture one of the robbers, no injuries let alone casualties were recorded.
Even more fortunately, several days later, the robbers were found and arrested. They were later sentenced to three years in prison. Some of the heist was briefly caught on the live webcam and broadcasted before the feed was shut off.
The Attempted Facelift of 2017
Towards the end of 2016, PokerStars made an announcement regarding the direction of the EPT. During the EPT leg in Barcelona, the intention was stated to perform a massive shift in the structure of their live tournament schedule. Previously, the EPT schedule was done using regional models. This was necessarily more complicated than having a global general standard, but it would also cater to individual markets better.
For the 2017 tournament season, it was decided that the global standard would be used as an experiment. This new system meant that each game would be placed into a specific category based on several relevant factors. The two main category slots were PokerStars Championships and PokerStars Festival. These events would offer winnings of around 5,000 and 1,000 Euros respectively.
But as the 2017 tournament season unfolded, very clear and intense market signals were sent by fans that they were not happy with the new setup. Indeed, the majority of regular fans had grown tremendously attached to their regional brands.
In response to this negative reaction, it was announced that the EPT would make a comeback in time for the 2018 tournament season. Not only that, but other regional tournament systems would be created to join the EPT, namely the Asia Pacific Poker Tour and Latin America Poker Tour. This was very well-received by fans from across the region.
Locations for the EPT
While there are many locations to choose from, there have been a number of returning favorites. On top of that, certain locations work best during specific times of the year. As such, over several seasons, a schedule of locations has emerged that many can reasonably rely on.
For example, for the January leg of the tournament, the location of choice is by far that of Paradise Island in the Bahamas. This is because locations in Europe are seen as either too cold or too wet during the winter to serve as an attractive location befitting the glamour of the tournament.
In contrast, locations around the Mediterranean are favored during the summer months. Not only is it nice and warm, but the almost complete absence of rain makes the ambience ideal for a tournament focused on fun in the sun.
All in all, the history and reputation of the EPT is respectable and fascinating. With a future full of promise, many are excited to see where this tournament will go in the coming years.
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