EPT9 Monaco Day 1B: An EPT season digest (Part 1)

The clue is perhaps concealed in the lengthy official title, but the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final is the last (ie, "final") event on season nine of the EPT. And in true American television tradition when seasons draw to a close, it's time to look back for a best-of showreel, a clip-show from episodes past.

Over the coming few days, us PokerStars Blog writers will select a few highlights from EPT Season 9, both things we've enjoyed writing and things we've enjoyed watching. Indulge us a moment as the screen starts to go cloudy at the edges, the mysterious music cuts in, and we take a nostalgic journey back to last August...

Barcelona - August 15-21
There were familiar surroundings for the season curtain raiser: Casino Barcelona in the Catalan capital, which is where the first EPT event of all took place back in the very distant past. This time, it was a full-on poker festival, with side events a plenty, and a Super High Roller event marked by the magnificent sight of Dan Smith capturing the title after an all-star display.

During the main event, we attempted to answer perhaps the most enduring mystery on the European Poker Tour. Why has there never been a two-time champion? We talked to everyone who might have an opinion, and we even employed the services of a real-life engineer and mathematician. But despite two full-length posts, we never found out. We could only idly speculate as to the favourites.

It was enough to make two Finns at the final table send for a barrel load of booze and some spangly hats and create an image that will remain long in the memory.


Ilari Sahamies breaks a drinking drought in style

Sanremo - October 3-11
The Italian leg of the EPT -- always one of the most popular -- shifted for the first time to autumn, but numbers were reliably buoyant. We also had a fantastic winner: the Frenchman Ludovic Lacay, who has been playing the EPT since season two and finally got the victory his talents deserved. "The first year I played on the EPT circuit I thought Ludovic Lacay was the best player I played against," tweeted Kevin MacPhee moments after the end of play. "Very happy to see him join the club."

Benny Spindler won the High Roller, with an absolute minimum of fuss. But that's because all the chatter in the early stages was about the spectacular rise to prominence of Inge Forsmo, one of the most exciting young talents who emerged this year. (Sample quote: "I tried to be patient when I started yesterday, but after 45 minutes I was all in with ten high on the river.") And then Daniel Negreanu suggested to the poker-sphere that we might want to introduce a shot-clock to thwart the stallers, and our investigation looked at both sides of the debate.


Inge Forsmo: playing patient with ten-four

Prague - December 5-15
In chilly Prague, a rabble of Irishmen kept themselves warm in traditional Irish fashion: with a skinful of booze and the threat of a (friendly) fight. With the end of the calendar year drawing close, the side-event action was some of the most exciting of the year, with the likes of Dan Smith, Bryn Kenney, Marc-Andre Ladouceur, Dan Kelly and ElkY all making the same table of a €5,000 event.

But that was nothing compared with what Roger Hairabedian was up to. In order to save himself €100,000, the result of a side bet he made against ElkY in a fit of hubris a few years ago, the French player was multi-tabling live, which is no mean feat for a man of his stature.


Roger Hairabedian: built for multi-tabling

Deauville - January 30 - February 9
Two countries stood out from the pack in Deauville in February: the home nation of France, of course, whose Remi Castignon would go on to win the thing despite a seemingly suicidal hero-call almost threatened to throw away a massive chip lead at the final. But also Lebanon, who had two representatives at the final table from only 23 who entered the tournament.

The only thing more remarkable than that was a hand played by the Team PokerStars Pro Vanessa Rousso on her opening day. Fortunately it was captured on EPT Live, which was broadcasting on Day 1 for the first time, and we were able to capture the full 15-minutes of the hand, plus Rousso's own thought processes.


Vanessa Rousso: hand of the tournament

London - March 5-16
I suspect Stephen Bartley will talk you through Ruben Visser's main event win tomorrow, when he makes his picks. But for me the biggest tournament triumph from a brilliant week in London was Talal Shakerchi winning the High Roller event and besting an enormous field of the very top pros.

Shakerchi has been destroying the world of high finance for years, and his skills in the poker environment have been coming on leaps and bounds in recent years. This event was one-way traffic all the way, and he really arrived as a poker talent par excellence.

The London event also marked Theo Jorgensen's brilliant return to tournament poker after he was shot in a home invasion. He talked to PokerStars Blog about his recovery, en route to the final table.


Theo Jorgensen: welcome back

Berlin - April 17-27
It's only a week since we left Berlin, which was another rip-roaring success in one of the emergent hot-beds of poker in Europe. Although Germany were dominant all week, the Norwegians also had an amazing week in the German capital and took over the lead in the race for Country of the Year.

We dreamed about assembling a feature table with poker-appropriate names (Boris "BB" Becker in the big blind) and we also learnt a new currency: Oslo Bar Beers (OBBs).

The week ended with Martin Kabrhel and Max Lykov trading blows in the High Roller and allowing Griffin "Flush_Entity" Benger to sneak in for his breakout success.


Griffin Benger comes of age

That brings us back around to today, in Monaco, and the Grand Final, where Sarah Grant has asked several of the top pros to name their own highlights from the year:

A quick note on how to follow our coverage of the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final. Head to the main EPT Monaco page, where you will find hand-by-hand coverage from the tables in the panel at the top of the page, which also includes current chip counts.

Our feature coverage can be found below the panel, including the latest from the side events. And don't forget EPT Live, which is now live at PokerStars.tv.