EPT Season 4

Recap of the 4th EPT Season

The fourth season of the European Poker Tour kicked off at Casino Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain a few weeks earlier in the year than the previous seasons had. The initial event started on 28 August, making it the first time in EPT history that the tour hadn’t begun in September (although it was September by the time the Barcelona Open concluded). The buy-in for the initial event jumped drastically to €7,700, a €2,700 increase from the year before, indicating that the European Poker Tour was slowly paralleling the other major poker tours in the world, which had an average initial buy-in of the equivalent of $10,000. The 2007 Barcelona Open went to Sander Lyloff of Denmark, a relative unknown in the poker world. Lyloff is considered one of the best backgammon players in the world and discovered poker through his backgammon buddies; at the Barcelona Open, Lyloff would beat out his 2005 backgammon partner, Brit Mark Teltscher, for first place.

The second event of the fourth season of the European Poker Tour took place once again in Grosvenor Victoria Casino in London, England. This event, the European Poker Championships, lasted five days and drew an impressive 392 entrants. The buy-in was only slightly more expensive than it had been the year previous, at ₤5,200, leading to an overall prize pool of ₤2,038,400. While Antony Lellouche would make a strong showing, ultimately coming in sixth place and easing his way onto the European Poker Tour all-time leaderboards, Joseph Mouawad would become the first person from Lebanon ever to win a title at the EPT, taking home the ₤611,520 first place prize.

The third stop in Season 4 of the EPT was again at Casinos Austria in Baden, Austria for the EPT Baden Classic, where Julian Thew, who had made two final tables during Season 1, would finally beat out the competition and nab the €670,800 first place prize. Thew is well-known for his risky playing, but his performance during the four day Baden event would not only be the largest amount he won in a single game but also his last final table at the European Poker Tour. Anton Allemann came in eighth place, marking the first time that anyone from Switzerland made it to a final table in the EPT.

Season 4 was the last season of the European Poker Tour to see Dublin as one of the hosting cities. EPT Dublin was held at the Royal Dublin Society and had a hefty €7,700 buy-in, which although in keeping with the increases in cost across the board of the European Poker Tour as it became more and more on par with the World Series of Poker and the World Poker Tour, was a big leap from Season 3. American Reuben Peters nabbed the €532,620 prize for first place, narrowly defeating Annette Obrestad of Norway, who settled for the €297,800 second place finish after holding the chip lead for the majority of the game. This was the first (and only) time that a non-European won the Dublin event in the European Poker Tour, and Obrestad had won the inaugural event of the World Series of Poker Europe only a month before (becoming the youngest player ever to do so).

While the first three seasons of the EPT saw a lull in the action between October and January, in Season 4, Prague was added as a locale, and a new event (EPT Prague) took place at the Hilton Prague Hotel in Prague, Czech Republic for five days in December. The buy-in for this new event was considerably less expensive than the others that season at only €4,700, contributing to a very healthy turnout of 555 entrants. Frenchman Arnaud Mattern would come in first and win €708,400, which would help him maintain his spot on the European Poker Tour Leaderboards. Dag Palovic would become the first Slovak player ever to make an EPT final table, coming in seventh and winning €93,600, a feat he would duplicate just months later.

The European Poker Tour’s fourth season made the tournament part of a crucial transition; PokerStars Caribbean Adventure was added as a location for the EPT until Season 6, when it would become the kick-off event for the North American Poker Tour. Previous to Season 4, the PCA was a part of the World Poker Tour. Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier would win his first EPT title here with pocket eights in the final hand, leaving with the $2,000,000 prize and beating out 1,135 other competitors, including American David Pham, who came in fourth place.

As the action of the fourth season of the European Poker Tour moved to Spielbank Hohensyburg in Dortmund, Germany, the competition grew even more heated. The five day EPT German Open would see a total of 411 entrants willing to pay the €7,700 buy-in and compete for one of the 40 payouts from the €3,164,700 prize pool, but it was ultimately Canadian Michael McDonald who, at the age of 18, became the youngest person ever to win an EPT event. In order to obtain his €933,600 prize, he had to beat out some excellent local competitors, including Andreas Gulanay, Torsten Haase, and Johannes Strassmann. Strassmann, who came in sixth place, would find his way on the EPT leaderboards due to his strong performance across the board at the European Poker Tour.

Mid-February saw a similar performance at the five day EPT Scandinavian Open at Casino Copenhagen in Copenhagen, Denmark, where American Tim Vance outplayed a great deal of local Danish talent for his kr6,220,488 first place prize, including Soren Jensen, Magnus Hansen, Rasmus Nielsen, and Simon Dorsland, all of whom made the final table.

Just one month later, the action again moved– this time to the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Warsaw, Poland for the EPT Polish Open. One of the smaller events in Season 4 of the European Poker Tour, the Warsaw event had only 359 entrants, of whom Germany’s Michael Schulze would dominate, winning the equivalent of $926,220 for his performance. This event would also be the first time that a player from Portugal (Ricardo Sousa) would make an EPT final table, and only the second time that a Spanish player would do the same (Juan Maceiras; the first was less than two months prior when Diego Perez landed a seat at the final table in Dortmund).

Season 4 saw the addition of one last event, EPT Sanremo in Sanremo, a city located in Liguria, one of the most beautiful regions of Italy. It would soon become one of the biggest regular events in the European Poker Tour. American Jason Mercier made his first final table in the EPT at this event and ultimately won €869,000 for first place, beating some of the best poker players in the world for the title. Among his competitors were Antony Lellouche, who is at home on the EPT leaderboards, PokerStars pros Dario Minieri and William Thorson, and Dag Palovic, who made his second final table of the season in Sanremo. As of early 2011, ESPN ranks Mercier as the third best poker player in the world, a title that he would further earn with his EPT performance the following season.

As the Season 4 action drew to a close, 842 entrants and countless spectators flocked once again to Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort in Monte Carlo, Monaco for the European Poker Tour Grand Final. Relative newcomer Glen Chorny would surprise everyone by winning the €2,020,000 first place prize, as he was unheard of before his finish in thirteenth place at the PCA three months before his Grand Final win. His purse at the Season 4 EPT would, even years later, still account for over 90% of his total poker winnings. Chorny bested well-known professional players like EPT leaderboard dominator Luca Pagano and Americans Isaac Baron, Michael Martin, and Antonio Esfandiari. Martin would win a title the following year, but this would be as close as Esfandiari came to a EPT title, the only major tournament title that still eluded him.