Welcome to Day 1A of the The PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino EPT Grand Final, or EPT Berlin Day 9 to those who came direct from the German capital to sunny Monaco, which this week heralds the finale of the tour's eighth season. Didn't it all go by in a blink?
The tour missed Monaco last year, when Madrid staged the season finale. But it never really left Monaco. You can never really leave this place which leaves an impression on both your mind, and your wallet, as you come to terms with astonishing scenery, and astronomical prices. It really is the ideal place for the EPT Grand Final.
As well as the upcoming events on the tournament floor, news from off the tables has perked the interest of some players. No, not that. You can read about that here. We're talking about the news of Season 9 of the European Poker Tour, details of which were released at a press conference in the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel earlier today.
EPT President Edgar Stuchly addressing the press conference
With the curtains drawn back there will be a new look to the tour next season, with a vast aray of improvements designed to make the players experience even better.
There will be eight stops in Season 9, as you can read about in an earlier post, with a few extras to satisfy the needs of high and low rollers.
For instance there will be no more surreptitious demands for the wireless code from players with an insider in the press room. From now on there will be wireless for everyone in the tournament area, as well as soft drinks, to spare the unbecoming scenes of players, some of which can boast millions in their tournament records, stealing bottles of water from staff rooms, each with a street value of about €15.
Edgar Stuchly (left) with Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier (centre) and Eugene Katchalov giving their first impressions of the new schedule (they liked it)
Another addition to Season 9 will be the EPT Concierge. Need tickets to a West End show during EPT London? Try the EPT Concierge. Need a new swimming costume for the water slides at the PCA? Try the EPT Concierge. Need a restaurant reservation in Prague or Deauville? Try EPT Concierge. Need tickets to Barcelona v Real Madrid? No chance. I suppose you could try EPT Concierge.
And before you start thinking "well that's alright for the high rollers," the Concierge service will be open to everyone, regardless of social rank. If you're a player, PokerStars and the European Poker Tour are there to make your life easier. This really will be the new standard for international poker everywhere.
That's all to look forward to next year, along with more tournaments, more variety, longer festivals so you can actually get out of the tournament room and see the world outside, more high rollers, more low rollers, and more opportunity to qualify online and actually take part. Yes, that means you too.
Now however, it's time for the main event.