EPT11 Barcelona: With 1,496 players, why is this Main Event so popular?
As the dust settles on what's left of the registration desk, which currently lies in pieces after processing a record number of players in the space of 48 hours, it's worth taking a step back to ask just what's behind this enormous surge for EPT100.
You can pick any number of things it could be, and much of the past week has been spent trying to fathom why this event keeps expanding in popularity. For the record some 1,496 players walked through the tournament door, stumping up €5,000 as they did so.
To get an idea of just what that looks like consider this. Taking the average height, if you laid each player on the floor, head to toe, they would stretch from the doors of Casino Barcelona to the foot of the Sagrada Familia, still leaving a few spare to reach the gift shop. That's more than 2.6km away.
But the reason behind this number might actually be to do with a whole list of things, carefully put in place in the weeks and months before doors opened, ensuring that when everyone was sitting down the walls would start to bulge. As EPT President Edgar Stuchly explained.
"Barcelona is obviously a perfect destination for the kick-off of a new season," Stuchly said. "Everybody's excited about what's going on, the combination of great poker and a great city, good food, nice weather, also ties into that."
But as he went onto say, very little is left to chance to make this a memorable start to the year, particularly one that began with the 100th EPT event. "Mainly it's that we have really driven the opening event very strong. There is a long qualification period also because we more or less start qualifiers for the next season a week after Monte Carlo.
"There's a critical size of an event where it just explodes. That happened more or less last year here in Barcelona. And that means that it will get bigger and bigger because if you're a poker player then you have to play this event."
Stuchly may well be the figurehead of the Main Event, welcoming players and personally being on hand to address their concerns. But he stressed also that it's not just about the Main Event that gets players through the door.
"Regardless of your bankroll you have always have an option to play a huge event," Stuchly said. "If it's the Barcelona Cup for €300, if it's the €1k, if it's the €5k, if it's the €10k, whatever. Actually regardless of that, depending on your bankroll you can play here at each event."
And so with popularity comes more popularity. As players around the world hear how big the festival is they change plans to come to Barcelona.
"I had people calling me this morning: 'If I fly in this morning can I still play?' Yeah, sure, great!" said Stuchly. "The word gets out that this is massive and it's really life changing money."
So rather than one explanation, there's about a dozen, not least that EPT Barcelona really is poker's January, the start of the new calendar and a new year which poker players, naturally, feel will be good to them.
"It kicks of the new season, with people coming from holidays, excited again to be back in poker. It's a good combination," Stuchly said, before looking ahead to next year. "We definitely have to look into additional options to get tables in here!"
Follow all the action from the tournament floor on the main EPT Barcelona page. There's hand-by-hand coverage in the panel at the top, including chip counts, and feature pieces below. There's also EPTLive, which is streaming action from Day 2 of the Main Event.
Stephen Bartley is a staff writer for the PokerStars Blog.