EPT11 Prague: Old faces reconvene for a Christmas jaunt

Who wouldn't fancy a trip to Prague before Christmas?

More than any other event on the European Poker Tour schedule, this December jaunt to the capital of the Czech Republic is perfectly timed. This is a town of cobbled streets that only look more attractive with a crisp coating of frost, and mediaeval town squares that only grow in charm when Christmas trees are installed at their centres and a row of counter open up selling bratwursts, trdelník and hot wine.

If you were only going to play one major poker event during the winter months, you would make it EPT Prague. It probably goes some way to explaining why this event in the Hilton Hotel this week has attracted so many faces who otherwise very rarely show up.

Dennis Phillips, who is an old friend of PokerStars, is over in Central Europe this week, and he has taken this opportunity to join the Day 1B action. We'll catch up with the popular St Louisan later.

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Dennis Phillips: Back on the EPT

It's also been a while since we saw Harrison Gimbel on the European Poker Tour. Gimbel became the youngest person to win the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, when he earned $2.2 million for taking down the event at Atlantis in January 2010.

Since then, Gimbel has apparently continued to play poker, collecting a string of smaller cashes, mainly across the United States, but hasn't made the money in an EPT event since in Sanremo, three months after his PCA win. I think that's mainly because he hasn't been playing over here very much -- until he hopped on a plane to Prague this week, that is.

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Harrison Gimbel: PCA champ in Prague

Sweden's Ferit Gabriellson was among the first players ever featured on PokerStars Blog, when he was unfortunate enough to be written about during the 2005 World Series Main Event. He was a PokerStars qualifier to the Big Dance in Las Vegas and both he and I remember vividly the series of hands I watched him play in which he went from big stack to no stack.

The capitulation was particularly notable because he got his chips in good on all occasions and suffered some ridiculous beats. The fact that this shadow stood behind him, notebook in hand, only at the moments he lost big pots led to long-standing fears that Gabriellson had met his personal cooler.

Gabriellson has been working on his business for a the past few years, and had a busy schedule of family commitments, including his sister's wedding, and hasn't been playing too much lately. But he's back to give this one a shot -- assuming his hexer steers clear.

Alex Gomes, who became the first Brazilian ever to win a World Series bracelet in 2008, is also in Prague this week. He won an online satellite to play this event, and it's a welcome return to the European felt for "allingomes". With career earnings in live tournaments of nearly $3.5 million, Gomes still tops the Brazil all time money list. Gomes has also made an EPT Grand Final final table, and has been in the last four at the PCA. But his achievements in popularising the game in his native country are even more significant.

Brazil is one of the undisputed hot-beds of poker these days, as witnessed by the ridiculous fields that continue to assemble for the Brazil Series of Poker. The 2014 version of this event, held in Sao Paulo at the beginning of this month, attracted 2,749 runners to its main event, the largest field assembled out of Las Vegas for a high buy in tournament. It owes a lot to Gomes.

Follow all the action from the Main Event on the Main Event page. There's hand-by-hand updates and chip counts in the panel at the top of the page and feature pieces below. And when you've read all that, enjoy some time to yourself.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in Prague