EPT Season 2

Recap of the 2nd EPT Season

The 2005 Barcelona Open began Season 2 of the European Poker Tour, and 327 players paid the steep €4,000 buy-in (up €3,000 from the year before, the biggest leap in buy-in costs for the Barcelona Open to date) and turned up to Casino Barcelona to play. The Scandinavians dominated the final table, with second through sixth place going to players from Sweden (Christer Johansson in second, Patric Martensson in fourth, and Anton Bergstrom in sixth), Finland (Patrik Antonius in third), and Denmark (Gus Hansen in fifth). While the early days of the EPT saw far more final tables that were exclusively European, this was only one of three in 2005. Frenchman Jan Boubli beat out the intense competition to take the €416,000 first place prize. The EPT Season 2 Barcelona Open also saw Dario Alioto set a new record (one of his many) as he became the first Italian to score final tables in both the European Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker.

During the Grosvenor World Masters, the second stop on the Season 2 European Poker Tour, professional backgammon player Mark Teltscher wowed the Grosvenor Victoria Casino in London by walking away with first prize. The £280,000 prize was Teltscher’s largest win at that point, but he would go on to win over twice that two years later when he came in second to his former backgammon partner in the 2007 Barcelona Open. Teltscher’s career would later become muddled due to some unsavory practices during the 2007 World Championship of Online Poker, where he won the tournament but was ultimately disqualified.

Stop three for the 2005 EPT was Baden, Austria, where Patrik Antonius would overcome his previous loss in Barcelona and leave with €288,180, about one and a half times the amount that he had won with his previous third place finish. The three day Poker EM/EPT Baden Classic, held in Casinos Austria in early October, had a meager 180 buy-ins, but the once again Scandinavian-dominated final table provided some fierce competition.

Later in the month, the second season of the European Poker Tour found its way to The Irish Winter Festival of Poker 2005 in Dublin, where the action was, not surprisingly, dominated by the Brits and the Irish, although first and second place went to Swedes Mats Gavatin and Henrik Olander, respectively. The Dublin event drew almost as many people as the opener in Barcelona, allowing for a first place prize over €300,000 for only the second time in EPT Season 2. This event, which lit up the Merrion Casino Club for the last weekend in October, would be the last event for the remainder of 2005.

After a holiday break, the European Poker Tour resumed with a four day event in Copenhagen, Denmark, for the EPT Scandinavian Open. The final table was dominated by Scandinavians once again, with intrusions from American Markus Gonsalves (fifth place) and Dutchman Marc Naalden (third place). Former backgammon pro Mads Andersen outlasted the rest of the competition and took the last hand when his pair of queens overpowered Edgar Skjervold’s pair of tens. He left Casino Copenhagen on January 22, 2006 with the first place prize, the equivalent of over $413,000.

The sixth event of the 2006 EPT, the EPT French Open in Deauville, France, saw a greater turnout than any of the other events in the second season of the European Poker Tour. The four day event had a total of 434 buy-ins, more than double that of some of the other stops on the tour, which led to the second-largest prize list that year (behind the main event, which had a €10,000 buy-in as opposed to the €4,000 in Deauville). On February 11, Mats Iremark of Sweden would walk away with the €480,000 first place prize, having bested the excellent strategic talents of Russian Kirill Gerasimov, Ram Vaswani of the Hendon Mob, and Canada’s Isabelle Mercier, who had established herself two years prior when she won the Ladies Night tournament at the WSOP. This was Iremark’s first major win, and is to date the largest win of his career.

Season 2 of the EPT concluded at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort in Monte Carlo, Monaco with the European Poker Tour Grand Final. The competition was heavy, as the final table consisted of some of poker’s best known talent, including Rocky Ross Boatman of the Hendon Mob and Marcel Lüske, who had predicted the winner of the EPT Grand Final the year before and was well-established not only as a poker player but as a poker coach (Lüske mentored both David Williams and Kirill Gerasimov).

After Canadian Marc Karam eliminated Lüske from the final table with an incredibly lucky hand (two sevens on the turn and river and a pair of fours on the flop gave him a full house; Lüske’s response to this was to pretend to vomit), Karam quit his regular job and became a full-time professional poker player. Karam would come in fourth place and Jeff Williams, an American unknown who was only 19 at the time, would take the €900,000 prize, showing that poker is truly any one’s game.