When a player says that this is his first EPT event, you can’t help but categorise his as a rookie, who may be overawed by the experience of the big tournament arena. But even though Mark Darner confessed this morning that this was his first time on the tour — “Unless you count the PCA?” — he doesn’t quite cut the customary rabbit-in-the-headlights pose.
Darner may be new to this series but this is far from his first rodeo. Perhaps better known as “RenRad 01” on PokerStars, Darner has amassed lifetime tournament winnings of close to $3m online. He has won the Sunday Warm-Up. He has won a WCOOP bracelet. And last summer he made his first World Series final table, finishing sixth in a six-max affair.
A few months ago Darner noticed how many satellites were running on PokerStars for EPT Berlin and thought he might as well give it a crack. And when you have his online tournament game, qualification was always likely to be a breeze. Indeed, he won four or five packages to this event by the time he was done and now here he is starting day two with 129,900 chips in front of him, which puts him 25th overall from the starting 478. That’s a pretty good spot to launch a serious charge.
“Germany’s cool,” Darner said. “I like it.” One suspects he’d like it even more with an €880,000 cheque in his cabin baggage.
Darner, who is 26 and comes from Orlando, seems to have his work/life balance pretty well sorted at the moment. He has a lease on a place in Rosarito, Mexico, from which he continues his online poker career, but spends about half his time back in his native Florida, sometimes playing on the tournament circuit there.
He’ll head back to Vegas this summer for some of the World Series, but having overdone it on previous visits — “I played every event; it was too much,” he said — he’ll now expects to buy in to something like five to eight tournaments, and head back to Mexico in between. “It’s really good online when everyone else is at the Series,” he said. Smart thinking.
Darner has played a good deal on the Latin America Poker Tour (LAPT), slightly closer to his adopted home than Germany. He has played in Colombia, Peru and Panama, but has only a min-cash in a side event to his name. He expects, though, to return to the EPT whatever happens here this week, and we’d be happy to have him on these shores. He accompanied a friend to Sanremo a couple of years ago, but didn’t consider himself enough of an established player to get involved.
He certainly seems to have all the qualifications now.
Don’t forget the way to follow our main event coverage. There’s hand-by-hand stuff, including chip counts, in the panel at the top of the main EPT Berlin page. There will be feature pieces below that panel, including updates from the side events. EPT Live is now live. And everything to do with the European Poker Tour is on the European Poker Tour site.