EPT Dublin: It's Final Day at the EPT

Guinness might be the staple of many a tourist’s itinerary on a Dublin excursion, often at the expense of everything else, but anyone stopping by the Royal Dublin Society this week will have seen another display of world class poker.

While the game’s aristocracy of Andy Black, Johnny Lodden and Team PokerStars Pro Noah Boeken all performed well, PokerStars qualifiers too showed the mettle to compete alongside the best. Among them is Thierry van den Berg who last night looked forward to the final whilst dogged mentally by the hand that cost him a good part of his chips. His stack is still a fighting one though, like those of fellow qualifiers Reijo Manninen from Finland and Denmark’s Casper Hansen. Both find themselves within sight of the winner's post.

It’s not the first time the European Poker Tour has visited the Royal Dublin Society. Two years ago the final table was played here, crossing town after a frenzied two days of action at the Merrion Casino, where late into the night Mats Gavatin defeated Henrik Olander heads-up. Flash forward two years and we’re here again, albeit a few metres away in a different part of the RDS, as the final nine of this year’s EPT Dublin compete to the last. A check for €532,620 is at stake and a seat in the grand final in Monte Carlo next year.

Of course the RDS is no stranger to high profile events, being the first port of call for any event organiser bringing a headline show or exhibition to the capital of the Emerald Isle.

One such highlight, particularly among fans of kitsch, came back in 1981 and again in 1988, when the RDS hosted the Eurovision Song Contest – an annual music competition staged by the European Broadcasting Union, which sees members submit songs to be performed and then voted on by fellow entrants.

Ireland has won seven times in the past, winning the right to host the extravagant show, but recent years has seen the event dogged by criticism. Due either to sour grapes or good taste, many feel politics rather than music has spiked the voting. It may be politics, but it’s shameless politics, and with that comes enough humour to make nearly 600 million people around the world find it worth watching.

Music concerts are a regular fixture here. The EPT is merely the warm up act for 50 Cent, Harry Connick Junior and Amy Winehouse, each of whom are penned in to appear at the RDS which incientally is considered the premier ‘Metal’ venue in Ireland. If music isn’t your thing you might find a Knitting and Stitching Conference more to your tastes, or stick around for the Irish Hairdressers Federation bash. It’s all here.

But for now be content with an EPT final featuring some of Europe’s top pros and the game’s latest phenom Annette Obrestad. It all gets underway at 4pm G.M.T., that's 11am E.T. Here’s the full line up:

Seat 1: Thierry Van Den Berg, 35, from Holland – PokerStars qualifier – 274,000



Thierry, a former chef from Almere, is a regular PokerStars qualifier and won four EPT seats last year on PokerStars, as well as four WSOP seats. He turned his WSOP satellite success this year into a place on a side event final table. He also qualified for EPT Baden in October – and came 5th for €132,900, and now he's on his 2nd EPT final table in less than a month. Thierry, who has a six-year-old daughter, turned pro a year ago.

Seat 2: Daan Ruiter, 24, Groningen, Holland – 646,000



Daan turned pro at the start of EPT Season 4 and immediately got a good result - by coming 25th in Barcelona for €16,700. He is also studying for his Masters degree in real estate at Groningen University. Online he only ever plays cash games but he loves live tournaments – and the chance it gives him to get a read on his opponents. Today's final table appearance in Dublin is his best tournament success so far.

Seat 3: Reuben Peters, 45, from Colorado, USA – PokerStars qualifier – 176,000



Reuben "seaanchor" Peters comes from the US ski resort Telluride where he trades stocks for a living - , and plays $100 online re-buy tournaments for fun. He's a serial PokerStars qualifier. As well as winning numerous WSOP and PCA seats, he also qualified for the EPT3 Grand Final in Monte Carlo in April. In WSOP 2006, he cashed in 65th place for $90,000. Reuben's wife Amy hasn't come to support him in Dublin as she was here just a few weeks ago with some friends – they came to The Police reunion concert in Croke Park.

Seat 4: Annette Obrestad, 19, from Norway – 788,000



The "Annette_15" rumours began surfacing last year, about how a Norwegian teenager was spreading fear and panic on the internet with a super aggressive and highly lucrative style of play. Reputations were destroyed and egos crushed. For many, the first public sighting of this internet phenomenon was at the EPT Grand Final last March, but her early forays into live play were unspectacular. Clearly, she was waiting for the top prize in Europe, which she landed when picking up the WSOP Europe title and a cheque for £1m.

Seat 5: Anders Pettersson, 20, from Sweden, PokerStars qualifier – 166,000



Just after he turned 18, Anders qualified for the Swedish Pokermiljonen televised tournament in Tallin, where he found himself on the same table as Mats Rahmn and Peter Eicchardt. He plays a lot online and has been to a few EPTs - but reaching the EPT Dublin final table is his best result so far.

Seat 6: Casper Hansen, 24, from Denmark. PokerStars qualifier – 360,000



This poker pro from Copenhagen bought in direct to the EPTs in London and Barcelona -without getting any return on his investment. Now he's in Dublin after winning a satellite on PokerStars – and has finally secured the cash position his talent deserves. Of his table image, Casper says: "I like to play relaxed, a bit sloppy, like I can barely count to ten." Are his final table opponents going to fall for that old line?

Seat 7: Trond Eidsvig, 22, Aalesund, Norway – 184,000



Trond, who comes from the tiny village of Ǻlesund on the west coast of Norway, is making his 2nd EPT final table in less than three months after winning €250,800 for 5th place in Barcelona at the start of EPT Season 4. Trond turned professional 18 months ago and played at EPT Dortmund last season but got knocked out early in the second day. Since his Barcelona success, Trond has hit a hot streak in the cash games in the last couple of months.

Seat 8: Michael Durrer, 42, from Germany, PokerStars qualifier – 247,000



After studying business and IT at college, Michael has since devoted himself to a lifetime of gambling. Billiards, sports betting, cards – Michael has done the lot. But a few years ago he broke his leg and, while convalescing, decided to take up poker. He said: "It was only after losing around €20,000 that I decided I'd better start playing properly. I bought books, started studying and now I'm getting results." Michael came 12th at EPT Baden last month for €30,000 but his biggest win to date was €60,000in Enschede in Holland last May.

Seat 9: Reijo Manninen , 47, from Helsinki, Finland – PokerStars qualifier - 480,000



Reijo first took up poker in the early 1970s. He says he then had to give it up again in the 1980s "because no one else was playing" but is now enjoying a comeback with success in a wide variation of games including final tabling in the Sökö (a kind of Scandinavian 5-card stud) championships. He's now enjoying a two-month break from work and is focusing on playing online SNGs on PokerStars. He said: "I don't normally have time to play live tournaments but I'm enjoying EPT Dublin!"

And a reminder of what they're playing for:

1st -- €532,620
2nd -- €297,800
3rd -- €178,680
4th -- €127,630
5th -- €105,510
6th -- €83,380
7th -- €66,370
8th -- €47,650
9th -- €30,630

Brad Willis
@BradWillis in