EPT Season 11: It's a wrap!
EPT Season 11 came to an end last weekend with the PokerStars and Monte-Carlo®Casino EPT Grand Final in Monaco. The 12-day festival broke numerous records and proved a fitting end to the biggest, richest EPT Season ever held.
The season's six European festivals featured a record 339 separate tournaments and exceeded the €100m prize money mark for the first time in EPT history. Players won a total of €114,486,339 this season - €20m up on Season 10 - generated by a record 60,731 entries.
Over the season 12,600 players came to our events, from 80 countries. We had pop stars, rap stars, sports stars and Oscar nominees; we had multi-millionaires (lots) and players who had qualified for nothing at all (in free-rolls and special promotions). We had jet skis, speedboats, yachts and Ferraris. We had players who pedalled to events on a bicycle, and others who arrived by helicopter. We had Joe Stapleton dressed as Cupid - and a couple who got engaged on the penultimate day of the Grand Final.
We also had qualifiers! More than 1,500 players won their seats into Season 11 Main Events online and took a big share of this season's prize money. At the EPT Grand Final Main Event alone, satellite winners accrued more than €1.6 million between them - including fifth-placed Ole Schemion who collected €233,500.
Every stop this season featured a packed festival schedule, run in conjunction with national and regional tours. Tournament directors estimate that some 1.5 million hands of poker were dealt to our players, an average of 250,000 per stop.
EPT100 celebrated the 100th European Poker Tour event, we smashed record after record in Barcelona last August, making it one of the most spectacular poker tournaments ever held. With 1,496 players from 71 countries, the €5,300 Main Event was the biggest EPT ever held on European soil, while the 2,560-strong field in the €1,100 Estrellas Poker Tour main event made it the largest ever live PokerStars freezeout.
The inaugural €300 Barcelona Cup had an extraordinary 2,095 players making it the fourth largest PokerStars event of all time (after the Beijing Millions, Estrellas main event and Brazil Series of Poker Millions).
EPT Prague in December was another event to break records. A schedule of 59 events (a record at the time) brought more than 3,200 players to the Czech capital with 12,000 entries overall (up some 30% on Season 10). A record 228 tournament staff were on hand to man the event - and help hand over more than €20m in prize money to players (up €13m on last season).
One of the undoubted highlights of Season 11 was the very first EPT in Malta, home to PokerStars.eu. One record broken there was for "Malta's worst weather in 60 years" but players loved the new stop anyway, and we'll be returning to this great destination (for better weather) in Season 12.
EPT Malta, held in conjunction with the Italian Poker Tour and Pagano Events, featured 69 events (another new record) and attracted 11,453 tournament entries from the 2,429 unique players taking part. Among them were PokerStars employees from the Malta office competed in tournaments, including the Helping Hands charity tourney which raised €15k for Right To Play.
Everyone loved Malta and the additional thrill of the inaugural Global Poker Masters and the European Poker Awards made it an even bigger success.
One of the biggest stories from Malta, however, was the extraordinary performance by Polish teenager Dzmitry Urbanovich. He won a total of four events - including the €25k High Roller and €5k NL limit - thus setting a new EPT record.
Urbanovich's €720k+ haul in Malta should really have made him a lock for this season's EPT Platinum Player of the Year title, but his nearest contenders weren't giving up without a fight.
As we headed to Monaco, Joao Vieira, Davidi Kitai and Vladimir Troyanovskiy were all vying for points and the POY lead. Urbanovich put himself ahead early on in Monaco with an incredible runner-up finish in the €100k Super High Roller - his biggest cash to date (Erik Seidel took it down). But there was still every chance that the others could catch him up.
Now the dust has settled Urbanovich has emerged as not only the Platinum Award winner (very deservedly) but the Gold Award winner as well. However the race was so close that no winners could actually be announced during the event. In the Silver category, Frenchman Jean-Jacques Zeitoun catapulted in to the lead from nowhere (well, 58th place in the rankings) after winning the €500 NL Deepstack and making the money in three other under €600-buy-in events in Monaco.
The Season 11 Grand Final featured the biggest schedule of them all: 78 events over 12 days. Excluding satellites, that was some 55 trophies up for grabs.
Some people grabbed two (well done Hossein Ensan and George Rankin) and even those who won relatively little were over the moon. Congrats Christian Berg from Sweden!
The PokerStars and Monte-Carlo®Casino EPT Grand Final was also a "momento grande" for Spain who were finally able to celebrate their first ever "campeón" when Adrian Mateos won the Main Event.
It wasn't an easy ride for the 20-year-old from Madrid, who faced a stacked final table that included Team PokerStars Pro Johnny Lodden (thwarted yet again for an EPT title), Ole Schemion and Polish star Jose Carlos Garcia.
Season 11 also racked up some records behind the scenes.
Our operations crew drove more than 78,000 km, shifting 1,000 tons of equipment. Meanwhile EPT Travel organised more than 38,000 nights of hotel accommodation.
The "inbox" and registration teams handled more than 18,500 player emails and the poker room ran nearly 900 seat or package-generating Main Event satellites.
Suesswaren Grasel, our Official Chocolate Sponsor, handed out more than 3,000 kg of chocolate, while SLYDE presented 12 exclusive watches to our Main Event and High Roller champions.
Official EPT11 Payment Provider Skrill ran ten online freerolls involving more than 9,000 players (awarding a trip to Monaco for the winners) and Official Audio Partner Skullcandy gave away 1,500 headphones (with "bass you can FEEL"!) to qualifiers.
The TV and webcast crew, number more than 120, and broadcasting in up to 14 separate languages, filmed 2,861 feature table hands and nearly 43 hours of cards-up final table coverage. The IT crew laid down more than six km of cable to service some 600 computers and 1,500 power outlets, while our photographers took more than 20,000 images. We simply can't compute how many hours of massages Thee Best Hands provided, but it's a lot.
We also had a little fun in Season 11. There were plenty of amazing moments and the pink-visored, flamingo glasses-wearing Helping Hands charity tourney at the EPT Grand Final was certainly one of them. Thanks to all who took part to help raise more than €10,000 for Pink Ribbon Monaco.
Now, after a breath-taking season, there's a short rest before Season 12 kicks off in Barcelona in August.
The six festival dates for Season 12 were announced during the Grand Final and include a return to Dublin (after an eight-year hiatus) and of course Malta. A seventh European stop is also planned for March 2016. Stay tuned for news on that one.
EPT Barcelona runs from August 19-29, 2015 and satellites are already running. Enormous thanks to all those who made Season 11 the best EPT ever - see you in Barcelona.
Edgar Stuchly is Director of Live Events