EPT9 Berlin Day 1A: What Dortmund started, Berlin continues

Compared with the likes of Barcelona, London and Deauville, our present surroundings of Berlin are relatively new to the European Poker Tour. We came here for the first time in season six -- this is only our fourth visit to the German capital -- and yet already it is firmly established. The smoothness of the operation, the atmosphere in the tournament room and, of course, the buoyant field sizes makes it feel as though this leg has been part of the EPT firmament for many, many years.

Perhaps part of the reason for this is that Berlin actually inherited the German leg of the EPT from Dortmund, a city about 500km west from here. Through seasons four and five, Casino Hohensyburg in Dortmund broke the seal on EPT tournaments in Germany, and hosted victories for Mike McDonald and Sandra Naujoks. McDonald triumphed from a field of 411; Naujoks beat 667.


Sandra Naujoks: winner in Dortmund all those years ago

Those two tournaments whet the appetite for the shift to the German capital and the Spielbank Casino, where Kevin MacPhee breezed in and had to battle 945 others for his title. He was followed into the winner's enclosure by Ben Wilinofsky and then Davidi Kitai and between them Germany has arguably yielded the strongest set of champions of all countries.

This week in Berlin, numbers are expected to remain extraordinarily high. The Berlin Cup, which kicked off this festival, attracted 911 players and created a prize pool of €883,670. We'll have more about that later. And there are strong rumours this week that the main event -- a €5,300 affair, remember -- may attract more than 900 players again. It wouldn't be too much to believe.

One expects most, if not all, the former champions to be among them, and Naujoks is already here today. A repeat victory would be even tougher than normal, however, at least based on her starting table. She is sitting with Dimitar Danchev, Michael Keiner and Dan Smith, among others. That's two Team Pros, two former EPT champions and one 2012 Player of the Year. (Only Naujoks finds herself in an intersection on that particular Venn diagram.)

Typically Day 1B fields are both bigger and even more stacked with talent than the first, and if that happens to be true again here this week, then tomorrow will be a brute. We know this because the following are seated today: Vojtech Ruzicka, Rupert Elder, Justin Bonomo, Tom Hall, Steve O'Dwyer, Felipe Ramos, Dominik Nitsche, Jan Bendik, Johnny Lodden, Rory Mathews, Pierre Neuville, Liv Boeree, Ruben Visser, Artem Litvinov, Boris Becker, Jeff Sarwer, Michael Tureniec, Jan Heitmann and Scott Seiver. That's among about 350 others.

Don't forget the way to follow our coverage here. There's hand-by-hand stuff, including chip counts, in the panel at the top of the main EPT Berlin page. There will be feature pieces below that panel, including updates from the side events. EPT Live will begin at 4pm local time. And everything to do with the European Poker Tour is on the European Poker Tour site.

Every now and then, you'll also find something from PokerStars.tv to entertain you. Like this:

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour