2008 World Series: Poker's evolution and revolution

There are many significant steps on poker's modern evolutionary road. The obvious one to most people is Chris Moneymaker's rise from Tennessee accountant to poker World Champion thanks to a $39 online satellite. Further back still there was Team PokerStars Pro Tom McEvoy's main event win 25 years ago, when he became the first Champion to have won his entry in a live satellite.

But in between those are two landmarks involving the same person.

The first came in 2000 when the Poker Million, the first event to award £1million to the winner (that was $1.4 million at the time), was staged on the Isle of Man.

The second occurred in a bath tub a few years later, coming to the same guy as he wallowed away in the tub, the idea striking him for a series of poker events to be staged across Europe, culminating in a glamorous grand final.

Of course that man was Team PokerStars Pro John Duthie.


"It's hard to believe," said John back in season one of the EPT. "It was just a year and a month and ago I sat in the bath and thought, 'that would be a good idea.'"

In fact it was a great idea. John had successfully combined his talents for directing drama on TV to doing the same for poker. After countless meetings, negotiations and the backing of PokerStars, the European Poker Tour was born - perhaps the most popular series of events outside the World Series - including the prestigious EPT Grand Final held with the beautiful backdrop of Monte Carlo.

These moments though could easily have gone the other way. Duthie's aggressive raises against the likes of Teddy Tuil and Ian Dobson back in 2000 could have been cut down had fate dealt them a different hand. For the sake of a bad river card European Poker could have taken an altogether different path.

The same hypothetical asked of Chris Moneymaker's adventure five years ago - Sam Farha calling Chris's bluff - would pose the question of what would the World Series look like today had Chris not captured the imagination of the internet generation?

Thankfully it all worked out differently and today John sits tearing a path through Day 2A, playing with typical gusto and spirit denied him at the EPT - for whilst he may be the creator, CEO and Executive Producer, those titles bar him from playing, making John the most frustrated spectator walking the rail. Between that and a regular battle to quit smoking it can be a heart breaking sight.

But like I said, John is making up for lost time. He started on 62,000, won a few pots, charged headlong at the table chip leader, and made him give way to Duthie pressure. He's running good - one of the reasons we're all here - now up to 82,000.


Just one of the over 2,000 PokerStars qualifiers here this week is Michael Migdol, who spoke to the PokerStars video blog team about the main event and a little success he's had elsewhere...

Watch WSOP 08: Michael Migdol Online Qualifier on PokerStars.tv