The European Poker Tour kicked off its Season Eight schedule yesterday with the first of two Day Ones in Tallinn, Estonia. This tournament drew in 420 players when it was the first event of Season Seven, but the EPT will be hard pressed to reach that number this year. Registration for the first Day One of the EPT Tallinn drew in only 92 players and only 68 made it through to come back for Day Two Thursday.
The dramatic reduction in the number of players could be several fold. At the end of Season Seven, longtime EPT Tournament Director Thomas Kremser stepped down from that position. Kremser was highly respected by the players and, without his involvement, there could be a backlash from the players. Secondly, the after effects of “Black Friday” are still being felt; this event would have normally drawn a sizeable chunk of its field from American players who qualified online for the tournament on PokerStars.
With that action cut off since April 15, this could be one of the first tournaments that could be strongly affected by the withdrawal of Americans from the field. Finally, there still could be that post-WSOP malaise going on, as players look to recharge their batteries following seven weeks in the Nevada desert; two weeks may not be enough time for some to have fully recovered.
According to PokerStars reports, Russia’s Maksim Kolosov finished Day 1A in the lead with slightly more than 102,000 in chips, with another former EPT champion, Roberto Romanello, pulling into the second slot. The numbers for Day 1B are better, with 190 players ponying up their €4000 to take part in the action. At this time, Oscar Lima and Jani Sointula are holding 130K and 118K, respectively, to outpace Kolosov’s Day 1A efforts.
The World Poker Tour wasn’t sitting around waiting for the WSOP to finish up, holding two of their Season Ten events before the “November Nine” were determined. The WPT Spanish championship was actually finished before the start of the WSOP, with Lukas Berglund defeating a 216 player field to win the title. This was a record setting feat on the WPT, as Berglund became the youngest ever champion on the tour at only eighteen years old.
The WPT then moved on to Slovenia for a tournament that began on July 17. As it came at the tail end of the WSOP, only 141 players turned out, with Miha Travnik taking down the crown.
The month of August is going to bring the WPT back to the United States as four tournaments will be in action. Three of those will be a part of the WPT’s Regional Tournament Schedule, with two stops in Florida, one in Jacksonville, FL at the Jacksonville Poker Room beginning August 13 and a second stop at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, FL on August 19, and a stop in Lawrenceburg, IN at the Hollywood Casino on August 20. These tournaments are $1500 buy-in events, but they do not count towards earning any WPT bracelets or yearly awards.
The “prime time” WPT tournaments will begin on August 25 as the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles hosts a longtime WPT event, the Legends of Poker. Perhaps recognizing the recent issues in the online world and its effects on the poker economy, the buy in for the WPT Legends of Poker Main Event has been reduced to $3500. Last year, the tournament was a $5000 buy in event and, prior to that, it was a $10,000 tournament.
This week also marks the debut of a new experiment in the tournament poker world with the birth of the Epic Poker League. The “professionals only” league, the brainchild of Las Vegas-based Federated Sports and Gaming and former WSOP commissioner Jeffrey Pollack, will open up its first of five tournaments this Saturday at the Palms Casino and Hotel with the first of two Day Ones for their $1500 Pro/Am.
According to league commissioner Annie Duke, over 120 of the top professional poker players in the world have already committed to playing in the first event. “Phil Laak, Antonio Esfandiari, Vanessa Selbst, Jason Mercier, Allen Cunningham and Barry Greenstein are just a few of the pros who will be a part of the first EPL tournament,” Annie stated in an exclusive interview with CanadaPoker. “We are really excited and expecting a big success. The pros have been booking rooms rapidly and tweeting about the upcoming event. We at the EPL are very happy to see all of our efforts become a reality.”
From now until August 6, satellite tournaments for the $1500 Pro/Am will be offered. These satellite tournaments will also be at the Palms and run either at 5PM or 7PM Vegas time. Costs of these satellites are either $180 or $340 and, dependent on the number of entries, several seats could be awarded to the Pro/Am. From there, the final table of nine players will be given the opportunity to play in the $20,000 Main Event through earning a “temporary” tour card.
The Main Event for each EPL tournament will feature a different format, with the first tournament being a Six Handed NLHE event. Except for 2% of the prize pool which goes to casino staff, the entirety of the buy ins will make up the prize pool and Federated Sports and Gaming will add $400,000. If the tournament – through those with guaranteed league memberships, the nine Pro Am qualifiers and the added money from FS&G – reaches 200 players, the prize pool would hit $4.3 million.
The Epic Poker League is looking to become something along the line of what professional golf has with the PGA. The EPL has secured television rights on the mainstream network CBS and will be broadcast on a new venture from the Discovery Channel, a new channel called Velocity, which will debut this fall.
League members have earned differing levels of “tour cards,” which mean they are eligible to play in EPL tournaments and much like professional golfers have to earn a “tour card” to play on the PGA. Over 200 professionals have earned such status to this point through a grueling statistical analytic, the Global Poker Index, which is adjusted weekly as professional poker players participate in tournaments around the world.