If you’ve been around the European Poker Tour (EPT) for a little while, you’ll probably know Henri Kasper’s face — whether seated at a table or in a suit on the sidelines.
By day, Kasper is the owner of a PR company in his native Estonia, and back in 2009 he rolled out the red carpet when some Swedish PokerStars employees came to Tallinn looking for a PR partner in the Baltics.
As a keen poker player already, Kasper’s agency was an easy sell to the PokerStars executives. Later that year, Kasper was pivotal in bringing the PokerStars Baltic Festival to Tallinn, which served as a warm-up to two EPT Tallinn events.
In 2010, Kevin Stani became the first EPT Tallinn champion, followed by Ronny Kaiser a year later. They were the only two EPTs ever held in the Baltics, and two of the biggest tournaments ever held in the region.
We can thank Kasper for playing a leading role in both of them.
“I was part of the team back then,” Kasper says of those days, adding that he has always been keen to introduced his countryfolk to poker. “All the main gaming companies that are active in Estonia have been my clients.”
HENRI KASPER: POKER POWER BROKER
While the EPT shifted its focus in the subsequent years, Kasper remains committed to his twin passions: PR and poker. And although he began a brief conversation during a tournament break at EPT Paris with the words, “I’m an amateur! So far my main income definitely comes from my day job” he is actually in the poker form of his life.
Having turned 50 last year, Kasper secured the biggest cash of his career when he chopped the first seniors event he had ever played, in Barcelona in August. And now, with only 12 players left in the EPT Main Event, he has locked up €71,150 at least, which is more than double that previous highest score.
He has $626,219 in live cashes to his name before this week, and a top-two finish would put him top of the Estonian money list.
“There is still a long way to go,” he cautioned. “We will see.”
Back home, Kasper’s poker diet usually comprises PLO cash games and only occasionally some online tournaments. “There’s money involved, but it’s also good entertainment,” he says of the cash action. “We have a bunch of guys who play it. They’re good guys.”
He prefers to play tournaments when he’s on the road, and takes four or five poker trips per year. He’s been deep in EPTs in Monte Carlo, and tends to play in Amsterdam or Barcelona as well.
HOLIDAY PLANS ON HOLD
He was actually due to be in Barcelona tomorrow, on a family holiday with his wife and two children. But they will reroute to Paris if Kasper makes it through to the final six, where they’ll watch him aim to become Estonia’s first EPT champion.
“I’ve been doing relatively good,” he says, assessing his tournament so far. “Patience is the most important thing, I would say. I’m mostly happy with my play. I am pretty sure the best guys at the table would say I’m missing some value spots, but that’s fine. That’s how I play.”
His brief trip to the TV table so far didn’t really allow him to showcase his skills. He was short stacked, won a flip through Manig Loeser to stay alive, and was then moved back off the stage.
He doesn’t seem fazed by what’s been going on in Paris this week — and certainly his clients aren’t. He’s been using many of his tournament breaks to catch up with work. “I have some other people, but there are some situations that I need to handle,” he says.
The EPT might not have any plans to head back to Tallinn, but it’s not impossible that one of its Main Event trophies might be heading that way next week — via Barcelona for that holiday, of course.