So this was it. The last ever EPT event before the PokerStars Championship came into being. For some it was the jumping off point for a new era, while others couldn’t help feeling a little bit of nostalgia for 13 seasons of the most prestigious poker tour in the world. Either way, Prague, as expected, provided the perfect send-off.
It was situation normal on the opening day of the 115th EPT Main Event, with close to 300 players taking their seats (a figure that would be multiplied by three the following day). It certainly felt like any other opening day, although Henrik Hecklen might have felt differently. The Danish pro bagged up the lead but would fade on Day 2, failing to make the money.
As you’d image, over the course of 13 years of the EPT players come and go. Some stick around while others return to civilian life and are rarely if ever seen again at the tables. Then there are those players who even after periods away from the tour return for another title bid. Given the circumstances, Prague had a little more appeal this time around for that same crowd, with the likes of Andy Black, and former EPT championship Ludovic Lacay (pictured) and Arnaud Mattern featuring heavily in live coverage of the day.
Surviving the bubble is difficult at the best of times, harder still when you’re fighting illness. The winter conditions brought the usual coughs and sniffles, making life even harder for those bidding to survive the bubble that would feature eight double ups before the unlucky Attila Valentai departed empty handed. At least those pictured escaped with their health.
With the new structure coming into effect back in Barcelona, the bubble now bursts somewhere around the last level of day 2. That means Day 3 is about pay-outs, and Prague was a textbook example, with more than 150 players making their way to the Main Event pay-out desk one last time as David Peters moved in the other direction, bagging up a lead he would take a long time to concede.
The serious business of winning the title now came into view. It was now or never for those with silverware on their minds with time running out to get their name inked into the soon-to-be-closed EPT history book. Time was also running out for Czech player Martin Kabrhel, whose banter at the tables was humorous to some, irritating to others, as he repeatedly seemed to tank on decisions, forcing floor staff to permanently position themselves nearby during what proved a long day at the tables, ready to provide yet another count down. Kabrhel would eventually bust in 18th place.
It was around about now that the potential champions were making themselves known. There was David Peters, unflappable, a kind of faultless rock impossible to dislodge. There was Marton Czuczor seeking to go better than his previous best of 11th in Barcelona back in 2011. And then Jasper Meijer Van Putten, proving to others, and himself, that he might have just what it takes to become a champion. Including a game face.
HOW THINGS CHANGE
When the EPT started back in 2004 Twitter hadn’t been invented, and neither had the concept of a selfie. What’s more winner’s shots rarely featured anyone but the winner, holding up a trophy and smiling. Now each is synonymous with the poker world, and were combined perfectly in this moment, captured by Neil Stoddart, of new champion Van Putten getting a selfie to remember with players and tour staff, after a day – and a tour – to remember.
With thanks to official EPT Photographer Neil Stoddart for the images above.
Time has run out to win your way to an EPT Main Event, but you can start your PokerStars Championship campaign now on PokerStars. Getting a PokerStars account couldn’t be easier and takes just a few minutes. Click here to get started.