EPT Monte Carlo: Back where poker belongs
The road to this day has been as long and winding as the hairpin roads that carried us from across the Italian border and down the mountain into Monte Carlo. But before we wax lyrical about this place it's worth remembering just have far we've come this season.
It's now eight months since we got this season rolling with EPT Kyiv. Spacious, hot, cheap; Kyiv provided the ideal start for players in need of a good push to carry them through Barcelona, London, Warsaw, Vilamoura and Prague before Christmas. Then the PCA added a last vital shove, bracing players for winter in Deauville, Copenhagen, Berlin and Snowfest before San Remo warmed the bones ahead of Monte Carlo.
And what a place. Through the windows of the Salle des Etoiles the sky line of Monaco looks sun soaked and lazy while above us the tournament room roof is slowly opening to reveal blue skies free from volcanic ash. This is not a town to rush around. Instead, park the Bentley outside your luxury apartment and plug in to the good life.
Then again you might not have your Bentley or the good life yet, in which case welcome to the EPT Grand Final. Somewhere around €10 million up for grabs, the lion's share likely to exceed €2 million.
For some players this is the culmination of a long season of hard graft, while for others it's a first taste of EPT opulence, a ridiculous and lavish extravaganza that has made the EPT the best poker tour in the world.
It will all be underway in just a few minutes, and the action from every level of every day will be written in the usual uncompromising standards right here on the PokerStars blog.
Sit back, ready yourself for some F5-ing and mix yourself another martini/bloody mary/ bowl of coco pops - depending on your time zone - for this event deserves something special.