EPT Prague: Re-run

During the recent break at the end of level four, the PokerStars player lounge was its usual bustle of fussball players, conversationalists and Wii guitar heroes, all the entertainments the average poker player could want to cram in to a 15-minute suspension in action. But as most filed out for the resumption of the day's play, one individual remained, transfixed by one of the television screens showing previous EPT action.

On the screen, the Finnish PokerStars qualifier Mika Paasonen was on the final table of EPT Barcelona from season four. He held pocket queens against Patrick Bruel's A-10 and the turn card was already down, showing Q-10-x-10, the coldest of cold decks. Sure enough, chip stacks slid into the middle, Paasonen tabled his near-unbeatable full house, and Bruel was looking for the exit from his first EPT final table.

"He actually made a bad call pre-flop," said the solitary spectator. "There was a raise and a re-raise." The speaker drained a cup of coffee and watched the car-wreck commence. It was as though he might have seen it once or twice before. This, of course, was the December 2008 incarnation of Paasonen, watching his August 2007 version end the hopes of the French singer-songwriter and to go on to place fourth for more than €300,000, the biggest win of his poker career.

Paasonen has since become a fixture on the EPT and has now played in more than 10 events, ofter qualifying on PokerStars, as he has done again here. He won his seat on a Saturday night qualifier, with an $800 buy-in, and is up to more than 25,000 at the second break. "That's pretty good," he added, content with his day's work today.

The Finn has not quite scaled those Barcelona heights since that moment last summer. But is increasingly there and thereabouts. And with the inspiration of his win playing repeatedly in the player lounge, he might be another decent bet to prosper in Prague.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour