Crammed into the goodie bag for winners of EPT main events – between the untold riches and the adoration of legions of screaming fans – is a golden ticket to the EPT Grand Final. It’s a nice little trinket worth €10,000, plus flights and hotel, but frequently it’s not even mentioned when the press releases and end of tournament wraps are written. The near-million euro prizes tend to divert attention.
But Brandon Schaefer, for instance, is probably the best example of how valuable that ticket can be. On season one of the EPT, he qualified for the Grand Final after winning in Deauville, and went on to finish runner up to Rob Hollink in the Grand Final, adding another €350,000 to his €144,000 prize in France – all of this from a PokerStars satellite.
Schaefer isn’t here this week* but six winners from this season of the EPT are playing today. Michael Martin, who won in London; Warsaw’s Joao Barbosa; the PCA champion Poorya Nazari; Moritz Kranich, who won in Deauville and the newest member of the club, Constant Rijkenberg, who prevailed last week in San Remo.
As ever, there have been mixed fortunes so far. Rijkenberg’s adrenaline led him to a three-barrel bluff against a set of sixes, costing him a huge chunk of his stack, and then the last of his chips went to Raymond Rahme, who called his shove with top pair, and Rijkenberg’s double belly-buster didn’t get there. Rijkenberg is on the rail with, among others, Phil Ivey, who was another early faller.
Kyllonen is sitting diametrically opposite his countryman Sami Kelopuro and is plodding along nicely at around his starting stack. Likewise Kranich and Barbosa, the former surviving the Rijkenberg whirlwind, the latter sitting on the same table as J.J. Liu and offering a neat sartorial comparison to the always extravagant American.
We haven’t seen a great deal of Nazari since his superb victory in the Bahamas in January and presumably he’s returned to his studies in Canada instead of entering the tournament circuit. But he’s definitely made the trip here and still has about 25,000 as we approach the end of level four. We’ll catch up later in the day.
These former winners are just one of the various sub-sets of players appearing in today’s field. If there’s one thing we like, it’s convenient subsets of players for blog posts, so stay tuned for plenty more.
*Well, we haven’t seen him yet; Schaefer has a great habit of popping up when you least expect him in any location around the world.