What is there to say about Berlin? It is a lovely location full of history, with a decadent hedonistic side that makes Las Vegas look like church. Who am I kidding? EPT Berlin is synonymous with the “R” word and it is not “raise.” The next stop on the EPT circus is the big top known as Berlin. Before we move forward, though, take a look back at the EPT Berlin that few will forget.
So let’s just pull the trigger (no pun intended) on why everyone will remember EPT Berlin. Day 4 of the Main Event, shortly after the High Roller started, the event was robbed by four masked men. This video posted shortly after the event, once all the PokerNews staff was accounted for, is still one of the most watched on PokerNews. Looking back I realize how terrified I was, obviously partly shaken up from the incident itself, but also from covering an actual news story, way outside the realm of poker that I’d become accustomed to covering. It was my Christiane Amanpour moment, and I never want to have another one.
I distinctly remember the vibe in the press room once the storm had passed. The mindset switched from fear to media frenzy to break-the-story-almost-immediately after the all-clear was given. The media went forth at a breakneck pace. German poker bloggers managed to get some crucial footage from the actual event. The web stream of the event, which was live without hole cards, caught the moment the chaos seeped into the tournament room. For all the chaos and tempered emotions, the day ended with everyone in the press room imbibing beer and wine courtesy of PokerStars, and trading stories of the day.
Performance of the Year
What does Berlin have to do with Ilari Tahkokallio winning Performance of the Year at the Nordic Poker Awards? The story is only one of the many shining examples of player generosity in the face of the unexpected. When play was halted during the robbery, Tahkokallio was in a hand. The flop was out. Tahkokallio was behind with two cards to come. They did not come. When play resumed, Tahkokallio was given the option to restart the hand. He graciously declined and when the aforementioned two cards finally came, he doubled up an opponent. However, the poker gods were shining down on the Finn. He not only final tabled the EPT Berlin event the next day, but also came runner-up to Kevin MacPhee and banked €600,000 for his effort. The win changed MacPhee's life, but Ilari's performance is also one to be remembered.
What to Expect
Turning to this year’s EPT Berlin, it is time to move past the association Berlin has with last year's violence. Berlin is a bustling city with much to offer the poker contingency. I do suggest that if you plan to attend, plan ahead. Word on the felt is that the tournament is expected to break last year’s attendance record. Once again, the poker world will collectively say, "ich bein ein berliner."
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