Poker bloggers, you have until 11pm on Sunday (BST) to enter our EPT London Guest Blogger contest.
Despite having never played a single tournament at it, the PokerStars European Poker Tour London will always have a special place in my heart. Why? Because it was where I had my very first taste of blogging on the EPT and was the tournament that opened the door for me to travel to some amazing European destinations and watch some of the best poker players in the world go up against each other in their quests to win hundreds of thousands of euros.
Almost a year ago to the day I made the journey from Leeds, West Yorkshire to London for my trial as a blogger for PokerNews. Although I was and still am a big fan of poker, and an avid player to boot, I had never done anything like live tournament reporting before, so to say I was nervous would be an understatement. After picking up my bright pink media bracelet I headed out into the tournament area, armed with my notepad and pen (with several pens in my pocket as backup) to try and find something interesting to write about.
The tournament was down to the final 12 players, seated on two, six-handed tables and my first-ever hand involved Per Ummer clashing with eventual runner-up John Juanda. Four hours later and I was on my way back up the M1 hoping I had done enough to earn a seat on a future EPT event.
Two months later I received an email asking if I was available to report on EPT Barcelona. Of course, I jumped at the chance and started packing my suitcase right away! A total of 758 players participated in the EPT Barcelona Main Event, which is still the largest tournament I have covered, and it was eventually won by Sweden's Kent Lundmark, who picked up €825,000, or $1,127,604 to our cousins across the pond. The week literally flew by as you can imagine, but during my time in Barcelona I got to rub shoulders with the likes of Team PokerStars Pros Daniel Negreanu and Liv Boeree, eat some great free food and drink some fabulous wine in the luxurious Gran Casino de Barcelona and attend a completely free party in a nearby nightclub that PokerStars had rented out for the night.
Since then I have watched an emotional Roberto Romanello win EPT Prague and become his friend, travelled to picturesque Hinterglemm, Austria, for EPT Snowfest where I saw a chain-drinking Vladimir Geshkenbein win his biggest cash to date against the most beautiful backdrop of snow-covered mountains, and more recently witnessed the Swiss sensation that is Ronny Kaiser demolish the field at EPT Tallinn.
There is no other job like live blogging on the European Poker Tour. In what other role can you travel around Europe, stay in five-star hotels, attend lavish complementary parties and get paid for watching some of the world's best and famous poker players riffle chips, run bluffs and go all-in in front of you?
I am genuinely excited for the eventual winner of the PokerStars EPT London Blogger competition because they will get a behind-the-scenes view at the greatest poker tour on the planet, be within touching distance of players they had only previously seen on television and, who knows, it could potentially open the door for a career within the fantastic poker industry.