Busto in Barcelona (but still happy)
It was a great summer, but I'm eagerly looking forward to the start of the new European Poker Tour season and going to Barcelona. It's such a great place to go, and also I have a history of doing well here. This time I busted early, but my brother made a deep run. We have that kind of history here.
For three consecutive years I have managed to make decent runs in the Main Event at EPT Barcelona, cashing each time. In 2010 I finished 37th, and in 2011 I made it all of the way to 10th. Then last year I finished 61st. In a way finishing 10th was more disappointing than 61st, because of how close I had gotten to the final table and what was a €850,000 first prize that year.
But overall it is always great to go to Barcelona. It's only a two-hour flight from Belgium, which makes it very convenient. Also, this year the EPT took place at the end of August and beginning of September, so the weather has been awesome.
The casino is located right by the beach and there are a lot of beach bars and other places to have fun nearby. The food is great, the people there are very friendly, and it really has everything you could wish for in a tour stop. It's almost like going on vacation, but with poker, too.
Last year we went to see Barcelona and Real Madrid play football, which was such a great atmosphere and one of the coolest matches to see in person. As someone who grew up playing and who has followed the game my entire life, that was a great experience to be there and be part of the huge crowd and witness all of the tension and drama.
The point is, there are definitely a lot of worse places to bust out of tournaments than Barcelona!
I'm also looking ahead after that to the Belgian Poker Challenge, a new tournament series that will be in Spa, Belgium from September 11-15. The last stop for the BPC was in Middelkerke back in April where I was fortunate enough to win the Main Event, so I'm definitely looking forward to trying to defend my title.
Going on the road is fun, but it's always nice to have these "home games," too. It's great to reunite with friends and familiar faces, and to welcome new people to Belgium as well. The buy-ins are smaller, but the fields are large and so the prize pools and payouts are pretty significant.
It's a little unfortunate that the Spa stop of the Belgian Poker Challenge is going to overlap with the WCOOP, but I'm sure I'll figure out a way to manage the schedule and play as many events in both as we can. After all, my brother Chris and I started out as online players and although we do spend a lot of time on the live circuit we're still grinders at heart.
Matthias de Meulder is a member of Team PokerStars Pro