PokerStars 10th Anniversary review: Slaying the EPT monkey

We're animal lovers here on the PokerStars Blog. Dogs and cats share our homes. We like birds, horses and, after meeting them at EPT Snowfest, mountain goats. What's more, we've tended to sick animals, and who knows what creatures enjoyed residence in blogger Stephen Bartley's moustache when he turned up at Barcelona last year with facial hair? With that heart-warming image of us in mind, it might seem odd for me to be advocating the killing of a monkey.

This particular chimp is pesky. It turns up at every European Poker Tour event and laughs at us. Not even Bartley's facial hair scared it away. In fact, it's been so annoying that we've been trying wring its neck since EPT Tallinn last season. To be honest, it's been ever present since the second ever EPT event back in London in 2004, but while we tolerated it before, it was Tallinn that really, er, got our goat.

What am I babbling on about? Well, this is the monkey that sits on the back of every former EPT champion. None of them, despite there having been around 75 EPT Main Events, have won two EPTs. One of those former winners needs to take a blunderbus to the thing and blast it away. It's quite remarkable that we are still to have a double winner.

Many have come close, of course. Ram Vaswani nearly did it right at the start of EPT history, winning EPT Dublin in Season 1 and then losing heads-up to Team PokerStars Pro Noah Boeken in Copenhagen in the very next event. We've been writing about the lack of a double-champ ever since, but it was in Tallinn that our patience snapped.

Here was Team PokerStars Pro Arnaud Mattern, who had won EPT Prague in 2007 and was in with an exceptional chance of killing the monkey. He had grabbed the Tallinn chip lead on Day 3, then maintained it on Day 4, meaning he began as favourite on the final table, Alas, and despite encouraging the monkey to come within range by eating bananas, Mattern was to fall in third place.


No monkey business: Arnaud Mattern

And so the monkey lived on. But I think that its demise is looming. Several more have come close to securing the double victory, with the latest being Kevin MacPhee, a former EPT Berlin winner who made the final table in San Remo only last month. He busted in eighth place.

Being sentimental, I'd like to think a Team PokerStars Pro will be the one to do it. Such has been the Team's strong performance at EPTs down the years, it's actually a distinct possibility.

Liv Boeree famously won in San Remo in 2010, and her record online as well as live--she won the PokerStars Sunday Warm-Up back in February for $147,000--suggests another title may be around the corner.


Liv Boeree

And who could say the German Team PokerStars Pro Sebastian Ruthenberg could not repeat his EPT Barcelona victory back in 2008? Nearly $3.5 million in live winnings suggest he could be the one.


Sebastian Ruthenberg

Other Team Pro winners include Sandra Naujoks, on home turf in Dortmund in 2009, Vicky Coren at EPT London in 2006, Max Lykov in Kyiv, Salvatore Bonavena in Prague and Jason Mercier at EPT San Remo.


Vicky Coren

While that is an impressive list, there are still those missing who, perhaps, might be there. ElkY won the PCA in 2008, and quality players like Vanessa Rousso have played enough EPTs to have had a shot. Instead, Rousso has the comfort of having won the EPT Monte Carlo High Roller in 2009 for $700,000. Born in 1983, Rousso has an impressive $3.5 million in tournament winnings to her name already.


Vanessa Rousso and 2009 High Roller title

Last word on the monkey hunting goes to Team PokerStars Pro Luca Pagano. He's never actually won an EPT, although he has made six final tables, including a sixth place at EPT Monte Carlo in 2008 that netted him €330,000. In total, the Italian has cashed an incredible 18 times at EPT events.


Luca Pagano

If anyone is going to slay that cheeky chimp, I'd like it to be Pagano. But of course, he's got to win his first title before he even thinks about going to the gun shop.

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We are publishing these daily review articles throughout November as PokerStars gears up to celebrate its 10th Anniversary.

Previous reviews:

Pole position
When two cards just won't do
ElkY, one name says it all
Going live at the PCA
It's a bling thing
Online wizards cast their spell
The EPT circus
Sporting greats
Making world champions
Party treats

Simon Young
@MrSimonYoung in News