EPT Barcelona: Begin the begin

Hello and a very warm welcome to beautiful, balmy, beach-side Barcelona and the beginning of season four of the European Poker Tour.

The success story for the EPT continues, with 550 players pre-registered for this €8,000 ($10,900 approx) event. To put that into perspective, when the first EPT event began in this very casino in September 2004, a grand total of 229 players parted with €1,000 to generate a €229,000 prize pool. Alexander Stevic, of Sweden, took the €80,000 first prize.

This time, Stevic's payout is the equivalent of just ten times the buy-in. And we're looking at a pool of nearer to €4 million. And there are about as many members of the press corps as there were players in that inaugural event.

Also dotted around Barcelona this week are some of the leading lights of the international poker scene. Representing Team PokerStars in Barcelona, we have Greg Raymer, Daniel Negreanu, Humberto Brenes, Katja Thater, Isabelle Mercier, Luca Pagano, Noah Boeken and Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier. We'll follow all their progress closely here.

And that's not all. In fact, that's barely the start of it. As ever, there are a host of PokerStars qualifiers from across the globe hoping to make a name for themselves. Some have qualified for as little as, well, nothing, instead cashing in their frequent player points (FPPs) for a taste of the high-life. Check back here throughout the week to hear their stories and watch their rise or demise.

Day 1A of the tournament is due to get under way any minute. We'll play until 4am, central European time, and then we'll start again with our second contingent tomorrow. Day Two proper begins on Thursday, day three on Friday and a final table of eight will convene on Saturday to play for the big, big money.

Stay tuned. There will be fireworks.
Brad Willis
@BradWillis in