It feels strange and exciting to say it, but for the first time on the European Poker Tour (EPT), welcome to Paris!
The continent’s leading poker tour has spent nearly two decades snaking through the most appealing cities in Europe, but for reasons well beyond our control it’s never been possible to come here before.
It is our great pleasure to be here now, however — with the excitement clearly shared by players. As has been documented elsewhere, the popularity is a double-edged sword, of course, and it’s been a tough job getting everybody seated.
But we can only now focus on the tournament action itself, especially as the €5,300 EPT Main Event kicks off — and seems certain to be a sell out.
MAIN EVENT DRAWS THE CROWDS
Side events and qualifiers were already well under way as players were filtering into the main tournament room for the Main Event at noon today.
As ever, the random draw meant that some tables filled almost immediately — there were a couple of eight-handed tables from the very beginning — while poor Emad Ayoub was completely alone on Table 19 and had to wait for an opponent before he could play his first hand.
As a further indication of how the table draw can play cruel tricks, the first three players on Table 38 were Simon Brandstrom, Jamila Von Perger and Manig Loeser. Those three had to play the earliest pots between just them.
Although this is the first time in Paris, it’s not the only time the EPT has been to France, of course. We came to Deauville nine times between 2004 and 2015, and many of the familiar faces from those days are already in today’s field.
They include one of the former champions, Lucien Cohen, a native Parisian, but a man who made his name in Deauville in 2011. That was when the pest controller, waving a rubber rat, laid enough bait to destroy an 891-strong Main Event field and win €880,000.
Antonio Buonnano, another former EPT champion from 2014, was also seated early. There’s also Frederik Brink, Aliaksei Boika, Joseph Mouawad, Jan Boubli and Kalidou Sow, all of whom have an EPT win (or, in Sow’s case, a PokerStars Championship triumph).
The two most recent EPT winners are also seated: Jordan Saccucci and Ian Hamilton, winners in Prague and London, respectively, are spinning it up again.