PCA 2012: "Luck" of the tournament leader board

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It's an argument with gaping holes but one made frequently nonetheless, predominantly by people unfamiliar with the game or those with an axe to grind: poker is all about luck.

No one denies there's some luck involved; the shuffle by its nature is just that, as is getting to bat first on a favourable wicket is decided by a coin toss in cricket, or the "shaking of the bag of tiles" is in Scrabble. You still have to know how to hit a cover drive or how to play the word QUIXOTRY.

You can try, like some have before, to invoke divine inspiration, looking up to the sky perhaps to thank a loving creator who is paradoxically prepared to spite your opponent. But long term it's a losing strategy and will only take you so far; into the money perhaps, or the Championship game if US football is your thing.

But when it's all boiled down the only determining factor you can depend on is skill, your own talent, crafted over years of dedication and hard work to see you through. And the best place to identify those players is on the European Poker Tour tournament leader board.

Not anyone can win an event on the European Poker Tour, although a good player, as well as a great player, certainly can. But the leader board is a different category altogether, listing players who consistently score highly, ruling out chance as their main weapon and categorically putting skill at the heart of the game.

Four from that top ten returned today, led, if you will, by TLB leader Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier.

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Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier

Few would doubt the magnitude of ElkY's success, not to say his ability to score huge results at the PCA which we detailed yesterday. He tops the list by virtue of a PCA main event win along with a string of other high profile results, although he just busted ("bad luck" Bertrand)

Behind him is Luca Pagano, who scored his first EPT cash back in Season 1 and has since added another 17, including a total of six final tables.

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Luca Pagano

In fifth place is Kevin MacPhee, now busted from Day 2 ("bad luck" Kevin), but with three final tables from nine cash finishes, most of which coming in the past four seasons, not to mention the EPT Berlin title.

Finally there's Martin Jacobson, one of the most talented players never to win an EPT, not for lack of trying. To date he has six cashes, four of them from final tables where he's finished second twice, third once and fourth.

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Martin Jacobson

Was this all just good fortune? There will be some that still believe so, but anyone watching, and who has tried it themselves, will know otherwise. You can't always rely on a Hail Mary to win poker's biggest prize.