EPT9 Prague: The first battle of Prague

The main event started with 21 players today and now just 12 remain. Four more will join the recently departed before play ends leaving a final eight to battle over the first prize tomorrow. That first prize will be €835,000, a sizeable increase on last year when a field of 722 made for a first prize of €720,000.

Naturally everyone want to win the title, but if falling short there is a crumb of consolation to be had in the idea that next time it will likely be even bigger. Alexander Stevic was delighted to win in Barcelona in season one, collecting €80,000. But wouldn't he have secretly have preferred to win a year later when first prize paid €416,000?

As far as EPT Prague is concerned, its first incarnation in Season 4 was a breakthrough of sorts, the first event other than the PCA or Grand Final to boast a first prize in excess of €700,000.

Looking back it was a different event to that which has taken place this week. Looking across the tournament room the place is dominated by the TV set which, whilst not as big as the full on television production - this is EPT Live "Lite" (so light in fact that they've removed letters from the official spelling) - it is still an area of scaffold and lighting, broadcasting the feature table across the internet and around the world.

It was a different picture in Season 4. Back then Prague was an analogue event, broadcast only to those who showed up to watch in person to see young French pro Arnaud Mattern make a name for himself in what proved a unique final table.

Arnaud Mattern

Most significant was the line-up, one that featured Dag Palovic, Markus Golser and Juha Lauttamus, as well as the charismatic Italian Gino Alacqua, who came to Prague looking for love and left with a cheque worth €407,300, which I suppose is nearly the same thing.
But as well as the players there was the tournament room itself, which came alive like a coliseum; a bank of temporary seating several levels high filled with spectators who were granted an almost bird's eye view of proceedings.

What they saw was a thrilling heads-up finale as Mattern and Alacqua battled for the title. Arnaud with stubble and aviator glasses, Alacqua with a devil-red tie and widow's peak. His final nod to the dealer, signalling his agreeing to match Mattern's all-in, being the last act of his heroic campaign.

Gino Alacqua

The rest is EPT history. The name Mattern became a well-known one, while Italy would have to wait another year for their first winner. You can see how this year's version plays out on EPT Live.

Follow hand-by-hand coverage, plus latest chip counts, in the panel at the top of the main EPT Prague page.

Stephen Bartley
@StephenBartley in European Poker Tour