This morning when I opened my underwear drawer, I saw a pair of black boxer briefs that I didn’t dare grab. They have been there since January of 2005 when Lufthansa misplaced my luggage on the way to what was then called the Scandinavian Open. It was 2005 and the first season of the European Poker Tour. There was no PokerStars Blog. There were no power outlets where I could plug in a laptop when Noah Boeken beat Ram Vaswani heads-up. And I had no underwear.
I solved the latter problem by finding a nice English-speaking salesperson in Copenhagen who sold me a pair of Martinique boxer briefs that were embarrassing to wear then and wouldn’t fit now. Still, I can’t bear the thought of throwing them away, because in a way it would signal to me that it’s all over, both the EPT and my ability to wear anything that small.
But here we are with the reality of both.
By now, you have seen all the retrospectives and goodbyes from Prague, and if you haven’t, you must watch this video, because it says more in three minutes than I could say in three hours of writing here.
I didn’t expect to be in any way emotionally affected by the video or the end of the EPT. For the past few years, I’ve spent more time on other tours and duties, and our capable team of EPT bloggers has handled that European load. Nevertheless, the EPT marked my beginning in this business, and I have missed those old days for a long time. For us old folks, nostalgia is a drug that’s hard to kick. So, as the video worked its way through the years, I saw lots of people who have become more than colleagues. Each one of them has a claim to the EPT, and most have a greater claim than I.
But then we got to the end of the video where I can only assume the talented Francine Watson and Jonathan Zincke had a role in making sure the EPT ended as it began…with a photo of John Duthie.
Even many talented contemporary players of the EPT weren’t around for the beginning. They didn’t see how it came to be, the passion that went into it, and the bonds that formed at the foundation. They didn’t see John Duthie mold it into what it was. And maybe they don’t care these days.
But I do.
That’s a photo I took of Duthie back in the day, and it’s the one I always think of when I think of him. Duthie could be very demanding, but he always remained a gentleman, one of great talent and vision, and one who made the EPT what it was. That smile of his represented the EPT. Even when it was grueling, there was joy there.
Duthie may have left the tour several years ago, but he is responsible for bringing it to the world, and in a way, he laid the groundwork for the PokerStars Championship and Festival tours we’ll begin in a couple of weeks. I don’t want anyone to forget that.
More than a decade ago someone snapped this grainy photo of Duthie in Season 1 of the EPT as he oversaw the assembly of the TV table. It’s not a great photo, but it needs to be here again I think.
See, because the way this blog works, we won’t ever have use again for the European Poker Tour category. We won’t update it again, and as such, this will be the last post to ever appear on the main EPT page.
So, it only seems fitting we end it as we began…with a visionary, some TV equipment, and a poker table. They are what got us this far, and they are what we’ll carry with us as we begin a new era in 2017.
Brad Willis is the PokerStars Head of Blogging. Follow him on Twitter: @BradWillis.