EPT Prague: Another day, another nine million dollars
Even now, in December 2008, there are people who decry the celebrity culture that has entered poker. Some people suggest that card players can't be bone fide mainstream stars; they say that the game should be played by people you don't know in places you have never been.
But last month in the United States, more than 1,000 spectators packed into a Las Vegas theatre to watch a heads-up poker game, the finale of a tournament that began in June and paid its winner more than $9 million. That winner - a 22-year-old Dane by the name of Peter Eastgate - is as far away from the trashy, boarish "celebrity" stereotype propagated by the entertainment channels and supermarket magazines. And yet, hell, the kid won NINE MILLION BUCKS playing poker. That's a celebrity in anyone's books.
All this comes by way of introduction to day 1b at EPT Prague, where the newly-crowned World Series of Poker champion Peter Eastgate returns to European action after his most profitable of all excursions over the pond. He remains quiet, humble, polite and accessible, and yet there's is no question he is a star. We'll soon see whether he can make a splash on the European Poker Tour. After being given the honour of uttering the fabled "Shuffle up and deal!" Eastgate will be back where he belongs and feels most comfortable, around the slab of baize.
Eastgate will be joined there by the type of field to which we have grown rapidly accustomed. Representing Team PokerStars Pro for starters are the Roman gladiator Dario Minieri; the German World Series bracelet owner Katja Thater; one of the first-ever EPT champions, Dutchman Noah Boeken; the much-feared Swedish dynamo William Thorson and the World Series main event final table player Alexander Kravchenko.
Throw in the former WPT champion and perennial PokerStars qualifier Christian Grundvig, the British online maestro Ben Grundy, the EPT Dortmund champion Mike McDonald, the EPT Deauville champion Mats Iremark, the EPT Budapest champion William Fry and, in the words of our Swedish blogger Lina Olofsson, "a lot of Scandis", we're in for one hell of a show.
Cards will be in the air in less time than it takes you to look at this video blog introducing the action:
Watch EPT Prague S5: Introduction into Day 1b on PokerStars.tv