EPT9 Berlin Day 3: Lybaert and Hall graduate to the big game

Last month in Rozvadov, in the west of the Czech Republic close to the border with Germany, a young Belgian poker player named Bart Lybaert won the first Eureka Poker Tour event to visit the town's King's Casino. He beat 421 players and earned €115,000, and even more remarkably, it was only the second live poker tournament of his young career.

Two weeks earlier, Lybaert had played his first at the UKIPT in London, in which he finished 139th for £1,200. It was a min-cash on debut, which is no mean feat. But it was outdone and consigned to history almost immediately by the fine victory in Rozvadov.


Bart Lybaert, enjoying his second poker tournament

During the presentation ceremony at King's, Lybaert said that his new found wealth would allow him to live his dream of playing on the most prestigious poker tour in the continent, this here EPT. And lo and behold, Lybaert came to Berlin for his first shot at the big time -- and as they went through the tortuous bubble period, Lybaert was still in his seat.

It seemed at one point as though Lybaert was now batting three-for-three, ie, three cashes from the first three tournaments he had played. But he confessed that he had snuck into a side event during Day 1B of EPT Berlin, and bust, and had also played a tournament back in Belgium in the past few weeks, in which he couldn't get aces to hold up against queens, all in pre-flop.

When he has played a few more of these things, he probably won't remember that kind of cooler anymore. They tend to happen far more frequently than you would expect. But at this rate by the time Lybaert gets to the point that he doesn't care about losing as a four-to-one favourite, he'll be a multi-millionaire.

Lybaert won't end as a winner this week, unfortunately. He went out in 130th place, for €8,000. But his strike rate is still off the charts, and he is expected in Monte Carlo later this month. Keep a close eye on the man on a roll.

The Eureka Poker Tour is one of those regional circuits that run all the way across the globe, offering a high-quality tournament experience for a fraction of the EPT buy-in. These circuits offer a lot of players with slightly smaller bankrolls the chance to hone their skills, before perhaps graduating to the more expensive tour.

The Eureka heads through Central Europe and the Balkans -- known as the "Eureka Zone" -- but there is also the Estrellas (in Spain) and similar tours through Italy and France. In the United Kingdom and Ireland there is the UKIPT, and it is from those tables that another of our EPT Berlin players has graduated.

Tom Hall has had six UKIPT main event cashes, and numerous deep runs in side events, including a final table at the UKIPT High Roller in London last month. He evidently now considers himself to have the bankroll -- and definitely the game -- for the EPT and he is sitting pretty with something like an average stack as fewer than 100 players now remain.

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Tom Hall, pictured in London last month

Don't forget the way to follow our main event coverage. 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 is now live. And everything to do with the European Poker Tour is on the European Poker Tour site.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour