EPT Season 8

Recap of the 8th EPT Season

Season 8 of the European Poker Tour offers many changes to the previous seasons of the EPT. With the events of Black Friday looming over the tables, American player turnout was actually down, causing lower than expected numbers of players at all of the events to date. This opened the gates for a lot of new talent to emerge at the tables, making Season 8 even more engaging than the previous seasons because of both the new blood at the tables and the changes to the schedule and lineup.

The European Poker Tour started its eighth season in Tallinn, Estonia, which also served as the opening city during Season 7. The 5-day event carried a €275,000 purse that would eventually go to Switzerland’s Ronny Kaiser. While the buy-in and fee were the same as in Season 7, the prize pool was only two thirds of the 1.5 million euro offered the previous year due to a sharp decrease in the number of buy-ins. Second place and its €180,000 prize went to Poland’s Grzegorz Cichocki while Estonia’s own Raigo Aasmaa took the €110,000 for third place. The only American in the top 40 was Joe Ebanks, who finished 32nd, an early indication that perhaps the backlash from the poker world’s legal troubles was nowhere near over.

Barcelona, Spain was the next stop for the EPT during Season 8. With a prize pool four times the size of the previous event, the stakes were much higher in this second event, as the 811 players competed for a part of the prize pool, which sat at just over €4 million. German Martin Schleich came in first for €850,000, beating Spaniard Dragan Kostic in heads-up play. Eugene Katchalov, an American player born in Ukraine who is best known for taking home the largest prize at the World Series of Poker for a non-championship game ($2,482,605 in 2007), came in third and added another €315,000 to his winnings. Three other Spaniards helped to dominate this final table– Raul Mestre in 4th (€244,000), Tomeu Gomila in 5th (€185,000), and Juan Manuel Pérez (€105,000) in seventh.

From Barcelona, Season 8 continued on to the Hilton London Metropole for the EPT London week-long play. First place was once more snagged by a German– this time Benny Spindler, who left with £750,000. Americans Steve O’Dwyer and Kevin Iacofano (second and sixth places, respectively) added their little American flag to the winner list, at long last, taking home £465,000 and £120,000 in the process. Closing out the final table were Andre Klebanov of Germany (£265,000, 2nd), Juan Manuel Pastor of Spain (£200,000, 4th), Sweden’s Mattias Bergstrom (£155,000, 5th), Brit Martins Adeniya (£86,350, 7th), and Miroslav Benes of the Czech Republic (£64,000, 8th).

Sanremo, a location that has always had one of the highest turnouts in the EPT did not disappoint during Season 8, and it brought in 837 entrants willing to cough up the €4,600 buy-in. The final table in this often star-studded event was impressive as usual, with Andrey Pateychuk, who first gathered international attention three months earlier with a strong early game in the WSOP Main Event, where he finished 15th and took home nearly half a million dollars; England’s Barny Boatman, who has collected a noteworthy 18 money finishes in the WSOP, 4 in the World Poker Tour, and 2 in the EPT; and American Kevin MacPhee, well known to EPT fans and players for his first place win in Berlin during Season 6 (among many other money finishes during this and other tours). Pateychuk took first place and the €800,000 prize, while Boatman took home €225,000 for fourth place and MacPhee left with €63,694 in eighth place.

The EPT shook things up a bit in Season 8, heading to Greece for the first time with a stop in Loutraki. While the number of entrants was minimal for an EPT event (only 336 players), this smaller turnout allowed for a lot of new blood in the live poker community, with a final table dominated by Germans (Hauke Heseding, 2nd, Pierre Mothes, 5th, and Mario Puccini, 8th) and Greek players (John Taramas in third and Charalampos Kapemopolous in seventh). Brit Zimnan Ziyard took first place and the €347,000 prize.

Prague, a regular since Season 4, was the next stop for the EPT, and German bad boy Martin Finger took first place and the €720,000 prize after wresting the title away from Dutchman David Boyaciyan, who put up quite a fight but ended in second place with €535,000. Other players at the table were Nicolas Levi, Guillen Usero, Denys Drobnya, Ari Engel, Andreas Wiese, and Mats Wissing.

Finally, the Americans and Canadians came out to play in force during the 2012 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure stop of the EPT. While this is usual, given the closer proximity to the North America, this is the first time that the PCA has been a part of the EPT since Season 5, when it left to join the North American Poker Tour. In Seasons 4 and 5, the Americans and Canadians took all but two or three seats at the final table– this time, they left only one seat open to a European– Ruben Visser of the Netherlands, who was the first to the rail with $156,400. American John Dibella would take home the $1,775,000 prize, part of the impressive prize pool of over 10 million dollars.

EPT Deauville had a surprisingly large number of entrants, topping the numbers brought in by Sanremo (but not quite hitting the PCA mark). When the dust settled, Belorussian Vadzim Kursevich was left standing, having beaten out a table of Frenchman, Italy’s Luca Pagano (a staple on the EPT All-Time Leaderboard), and Irishman Mick Graydon. Kursevich bagged his third EPT cash and became the first Belorussian to win an EPT event, taking home €875,000 in the process.

Season 8’s Copenhagen event had one of the smaller turnouts of the year, with less than 300 players. The final table was comprised almost entirely of youngsters, with runner-up Pierre Neuville of Germany the only player over 30 (and he was almost 70 at game time!). Mickey Petersen took his status as home favourite and ran with it, taking home a DKK 2,515,000 prize (around $453,200). While Petersen has won over 4.5 million online, this was his first big live tournament win. Danes Bjarke Hansen and Jacob Rasmussen came in 3rd and 5th places, respectively, while 4th went to Norwegian Aage Ravn. The last three spots at the final table (from highest finish to lowest) were Niels van Alphen of The Netherlands and Americans Steve O’Dwyer and Spencer Hudson.

Frederik Jensen would take the title in Madrid, making him the second Dane in a row to win an EPT main event. While Spaniard Ricardo Ibanez looked like a strong contender for the win going into the final table, where he had a substantial chip lead over the other players, he quickly lost his chips and dashed Spain’s hopes of having their first EPT winner. Second place and its €290,000 prize went to Scotland’s Fraser Macintyre, while Jensen made short work of the heads up play, ending it in only six hands and taking home nearly half a million euro.

The European Poker Tour has announced that this year’s Grand Final will move back to Monte Carlo, Monaco after Season 7’s switch to Madrid. There are still a few stops to go before we get there, so stay tuned as we bring you up-to-date coverage of all the EPT events!

The Danes scored a hat trick as Denmark’s Jannick Wrang took first place at EPT Campione and the accompanying £640,000 prize. His cash in this event surpasses that of both Petersen and Jensen. The players were all pretty well-set when they came into the final table, so it didn’t come as a surprise that it lasted as long as it did– this great feat of endurance took nearly 14 hours to resolve, culminating in a 75 minute heads-up between Wrang and American Olivier Busquet, who walked away with £430,000 and second place. Stefano Puccilli of left in seventh place, but his cash was enough to make him the leading Italian player in the Season 8 EPT.