EPT12 Barcelona: A place for making history, glitz and glamour

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Edgar Stuchly welcomes all to EPT Season 12

The new season of the European Poker Tour is now upon us. We know this for certain because Edgar Stuchly, President of the EPT, recently picked up a microphone and stood in front of the early arrivals to the tournament room and welcomed us all officially in customary style.

It never feels quite right until this moment, but once the lights have been dimmed, the opening video has been played and Stuchly has spoken to the room, we can all sit back in our seats and get on with things.

Today's introductory video, cut over the summer by the wizards in the EPT edit suite, was slightly different to most others we will see throughout the season. Barcelona, of course, has hosted an EPT event every season for 12 years and that meant that there was a lot of Barcelona-specific content to draw from. On most occasions, the video takes us on a hop around the continent. Here we barely strayed more than 50 yards.

PokerStars Blog has also been at this event every year, and we have a similar highlights reel of coverage from Casino Barcelona. Indeed, we've been able in recent weeks to go through 25 of the alphabet's 26 letters in an A-Z Guide To Barcelona. (If only Kevin X would come to the EPT.)

The cast of today's video included the likes of Carter Phillips (winner in Season 6); Hossein Ensan (third last year); Jamilla von Perger (23rd in Season 10); and two Finns in spangly hats. We also heard the now-legendary chants of "Martin! Martin! Martin!" (which were, more hilariously, preceded by "It is enough!") as Ole Schemion was among others bellowing his countryman Martin Schleich to victory in Season 8.

You won't have seen the video unless you were in the tournament room in Barcelona (there's another chance tomorrow at noon), but you will get a chance when EPT Live begins its broadcast on Day 2. It will open the show.

Before that, you certainly can look back on all the coverage we have offered over the years. Here's where you can find the stories behind the images. Take your pick of tournament reports from down the years:

Season 1: Contemporary reporting of Alexander Stevic's victory in the first ever European Poker Tour event now lingers only beyond even Google's reach. PokerStars Blog used to be on Blogger back then, and looked very different indeed. However, the Swedish player discussed those heady days fairly recently, and there's also a way to see it in its full glory. It's on that new-fangled thing called YouTube.

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Alexander Stevic returned for the 100th EPT

Season 2: Jan Boubli was a surprise winner on Season 2, not only because the final table featured Patrik Antonius, Gus Hansen and Dario Alioto, among others. Again, the report has vanished, but search terms "ept barcelona season 2" brings up the video on YouTube.

Season 3: All eyes were fixed on Phil Ivey when the final table began of EPT Barcelona in Season 3. The man who would go on to be repeatedly described as the greatest poker player of all time was already being touted as possibly the greatest poker player of all time. But on this day, at least, he couldn't beat Bjorn Erik Glenne from Norway, a victory you could have read all about in some highly dubious fonts on PokerStars Blog.

Season 4: When you come all the way to Barcelona, you'll probably want to split some expenses. And so Sander Lyloff and Mark Teltscher, who knew each other from the backgammon circuit, decided to share a hotel room. You would have got long odds against them being the last two left at the end of the tournament, however, but that's exactly what happened. Lyloff beat his room-mate Teltscher heads up. (But, frustratingly, the report of that happening has vanished. Bah.)

Season 5: By the time Season 5 rolled around, PokerStars Blog had got its act together and its archives properly remain intact. It allowed us to report gloriously on two things: Sebastian Ruthenberg winning for Germany, and also Jason Mercier's first stab at double EPT glory. Mercier had prevailed in Sanremo five months earlier, and was back at a second final table within a calendar year. He finished sixth.

That tournament was also notable for the arrival on the European scene of a chap from Kent, England, named Stephen Chidwick. Although stevie444 was well established in the online game by that point, and had popped up at the PCA in January, his first result on European soil was 15th place in this tournament. He looked like this.

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Check his passport: Stephen Chidwick

Season 6: The sixth time we came to Barcelona remains one of the most memorable visits to these parts. Carter Phillips put on one of the most dominant tournament displays of the modern era. We were all pretty wet behind the ears back then, but Phillips' play in the run up to the final table was an emphatic introduction to the way poker was being played online at the time, and how it has continued to be. The final stages had it all, including a pantomime villain in the form of Santiago Terrazas calling the clock on Mark Goodwin after Phillips ran a huge bluff, and then a final table through which Phillips was in awesome form.

Season 7: Who could know how Kent Lundmark would become a cult hero? But that was precisely his future he after quietly steam-rollered to victory in the Season 7 decider. Lundmark's game was characterised by his steady, no-frills approach, but suffice to say not everyone followed his lead. Towards the end of the penultimate day, Francesco Notaro found all of his chips in the pot with J♣J♦ against Ognjen Sekularac's A♥K♥. Flop and turn were blank and they went to the river with Notaro an 86 percent favourite for the hand.

Still, as Sekularec sat silently wishing for an ace or a king, Notaro decided that he wanted a five. See if you can guess what card popped up:

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Francesco Notaro: Imagine how he'd celebrate if he was underdog

Notaro would go on to finish eighth. People are still rumoured to be muttering "Get it quietly" even now.

Season 8: Martin Schleich's stand-out career victory in Season 8 has come to be remembered for the languid manner in which it took place. Everyone in the room at the time now talks about a group of well-refreshed German supporters plaintively appealing for Schleich to get the job done before everybody went slightly mad.

Schleich did indeed wrap up the victory, but deep insanity seemed to have already set in. Whatever did happen to the "SY" who penned a series of suicide notes in 15-minute instalments on PokerStars Blog.

"Quiet period. No big pots, no substantial chip movement. Nothing more to be said."
"12.01am: Good morning. That is all."
"No change, with players looking visibly tired at the table - Eugene Katchalov getting caught yawning on TV."
"Still no sign of anything pivotal happening."
"Please send black coffee to media area at EPT Barcelona. Maybe some cake, too."
"You can cheer us up by sending comments. Or money. Or a bed."

Season 9: There's no doubt about it, the final table of EPT9 Barcelona was a stonewall classic, at the end of which Mikalai Pobal was left swigging the champagne. But a lot of that success owed itself to his restraint in waiting until after the poker had finished before popping corks. Ilari Sahamies and Joni Jouhkimainen had not been so careful, with predictable results.

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Ilari Sahamies at the centre of the Finns In Hats Incident

Season 10: Thomas Middleton was already an online legend when he led the field to the Season 10 finale, but hadn't quite hit the hole so emphatically in the live arena to that point. Middleton proved to be unbeatable at the final table but, shortly after the EPT team relaxed rules on reporting of deal negotiations, we witnessed poker's equivalent of the Putney Debates as they tried to carve up the prize-pool. PokerStars Blog ear-wigged on the whole thing.

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Give and take at EPT 10

Season 11: If SY thought Martin Schleich's victory took too long in Season 9, he should have been here last year. Andre Lettau and Samuel Phillips were still trading blows when the sun was up outside and the cleaners were finishing their morning rounds.

But it was another excellent tournament, featuring the fairytale run of Bram Hanraets, and some action on the penultimate day involving Ji Zhang that required a much closer look.

You can follow all the action from the various tournament floors on PokerStars Blog. The Main Event action will be on the Main Event page. We also have the final of the Super High Roller, which will be on the Super High Roller page.

The Estrellas Main Event also plays its final table. Action from that is on the side events page.

You can also begin plotting your own bid for EPT glory by downloading the PokerStars client and having a crack. Follow this EPT event via the EPT app. There you will get all the latest news, chip counts and payouts. You can download it on Android or IOS.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour