EPT12 Barcelona: The re-birth of Peter Eichhardt, more than just a Season 1 throwback

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Back to the future with Peter Eichhardt

It is Day 4 of the EPT Main Event in Barcelona, and for at least one man in the field, that should mean that he's won it. When Peter Eichhardt first appeared on the European Poker Tour, all the way back in Season 1, the tournament was done and dusted within two days.

It's true. We now take almost as many weeks to complete an EPT festival as we used to take days. And who knows what the hourly inflation amounts to.

But back to Eichhardt: the Swedish player made his EPT debut in Deauville in February 2005. By that point, he already had a string of results dating from 1992, and had worked as a poker dealer before that.

The EPT was the next logical step, and he ended up on the final table in France, finishing seventh behind the Brandon Schaefer/Carl Olson room-mate heads-up showdown. Justin Bonomo was also on that final table, as was Luca Pagano, as the future greats began to cut their teeth.

Eichhardt booked a second final table appearance in Baden the following season amid a further string of five-figure wins. In those early days, he was always one of our "notables" on PokerStars Blog, and was one to fear for opponents. He had a stern-looking table presence; he was winning at poker before most had even learned it; and he was from Scandinavia. Put them all together and Peter Eichhardt = menace.

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Peter Eichhardt: The early season menace

However just when the sky seemed to be the limit, Eichhardt took a long hiatus from the tour, which lasted about six or seven years. He was still playing online and showing up at some tournaments across the continent, but he remained largely a stranger to the EPT.

After he then qualified online for a couple of tournaments in Season 8, including a trip to the Bahamas, it proved to be a bittersweet return. Although Eichhardt cashed in the Main Event, he realised the price in experience that his absence had cost him.

"It was the PCA in 2012," he says. "I got to day two and I looked around the table and everyone was 21-30 years old, and I thought, 'I'm the worst player at the table'. They were so good."

An epiphany such as this, particularly in an ego-driven game like poker, is far from comfortable to accept. Many former champions have been incapable of taking this truth on board and have wound up frittering what remains of the bankroll, playing like they did in 2002.

But despite describing himself even now as a "hobby player", Eichhardt made the decision that if he was going to be able to carry on, he needed to improve. He went away, hit the books, watched videos and used software to analyse and improve his online game.

And now he's back, 49 years old, and sitting behind a stack of 770,000 on Day 4. He told me that he no longer thinks he is the worst player. He is guaranteed €13,475 at least and a return to a final table will be worth a minimum of €137,080.

It would also represent the longest time between two EPT final tables: 3,844 days. That's a record that will take some beating.

Eichhardt is up for it. "It feels lovely," he says. "I love the competition, the spirit."

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. And the €10,000 High Roller gets under way today as well. It's not confirmed as record-breaking just yet, but I'm going to bet it will be. Watch me be proved right on the High Roller page.

Everything from the side events is on the side events page. It will be busy over there today as well.

There's also EPT Live for your video-based needs.

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