Looking Back at the European Poker Tour Part One: The Early Years

European Poker Tour

After 13 seasons, the European Poker Tour is set to close at the end of EPT Prague. The poker tour will be replaced by the recently established PokerStars Championship and PokerStars Festival events.

EPT Prague takes place Dec. 8 through Dec. 19, 2016. As is usually the case, the last EPT features many exciting events, highlighted by the €5,300 Main Event which runs Dec. 13 through Dec. 19. EPT Prague runs side-by-side with the Eureka Poker Tour Prague, which is also the last in its history. Here's a look at the major events on the schedule:

Dec. 8-10€10,300 NLHE
Dec. 9-13€1,100 Eureka Main Event
Dec. 11-13€50,000 Super High Roller
Dec. 12-13€2,200 Eureka High Roller
Dec. 13-19€5,300 EPT Main Event
Dec. 14€25,500 Single-Day High Roller
Dec. 17-19€10,300 High Roller

With EPT Prague closing out a chapter in poker history, there is no time better to look back on its 13 seasons. Part One of the retrospective will focus on the early years in Seasons 1 through 5, Part Two will focus on the Berlin robbery, the effects of Black Friday and the "mega-schedule," and Part Three will focus on the later years in Seasons 9-13 when the number of venues was reduced with each offering more events, along with some general stats about the venues and EPT winners.

Here is a look at Seasons 1-5:

Season 1 (2004-2005): John Duthie Launches EPT

Prior to hitting it big in poker by shipping the Poker Millions in 2000 for £1,000,000 ($1,426,330), John Duthie was also known in the United Kingdom for directing television hits, including Burn It, As If and Clocking Off. Today, Duthie is even better known in poker circles for founding the EPT in 2004.

Looking Back at the European Poker Tour Part One: The Early Years 101
Alexander Stevic

The first stop in EPT history was in Barcelona, with Casino Barcelona becoming the only venue for EPT events to take place during each of the 13 seasons. Sweden's Alexander Stevic finished on top of a 229 player field to win the inaugural EPT Main Event for €80,000 ($98,000).

However, Stevic managed an even bigger cash by finishing in third place in the season's finale, the €10,000 EPT Grand Final at Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort for €178,000 ($236,920). Netherlands' Rob Hollink went on to win this event by outlasting 211 entrants to win €635,000 ($845,190). Similar to Barcelona, Monte Carlo went on to be a regular stop with the EPT ending each of the first 12 seasons in Monaco's biggest city.

United Kingdom's Ram Vaswani shipped the first EPT Main Event held in Dublin for €93,000 ($117,003), while Netherland's Noah Boeken struck gold in the first EPT Main Event in Copenhagen for DKr1,098,340 ($191,355). The three other stops during the inaugural season took place in London, Deauville and Vienna.

EPT Season 1 Main Event Winners

DateEventEntrantsMain Event WinnerCountryPrize
Sept. 18-19, 2004EPT Barcelona Open229Alexander StevicSweden€80,000
Oct. 9-10, 2004EPT London175John ShipleyUnited Kingdom£200,000
Oct. 23-24, 2004EPT Dublin163Ram VaswaniUnited Kingdom€93,000
Jan. 29-30, 2005EPT Scandinavian Open, Copenhagen156Noah BoekenNetherlandsDKr1,098,340
Feb. 15-19, 2005EPT French Open, Deauville245Brandon SchaeferUnited States€144,000
March 10-11, 2005EPT Vienna297Pascal PerraultFrance€184,500
March 15-19, 2005Monaco EPT Grand Final, Monte Carlo211Rob HollinkNetherlands€635,000

Season 2 (2005-2006): Patrik Antonius Wins in Baden, Jeff Williams Wins Grand Final

Looking Back at the European Poker Tour Part One: The Early Years 102
Patrik Antonius

Most of the stops in Season 2 were identical to that of the inaugural season with the sole exception of the stop in Vienna, Austria, being shifted to outside the country's capital to Baden. Poker superstar Patrik Antonius won his only EPT Main Event title in his poker career in Baden when he finished on top of the 180 player field to bank €288,180 ($343,365). Less than a month earlier, he took third place in the EPT 2 Barcelona Open Main Event for €117,000 ($145,068). France's Jan Boubli scored his biggest win in his poker career in Barcelona when he outlasted the 327 entrants to win the top prize of €426,000 ($528,195).

Meanwhile, Jeff "yellowsub86" Williams became, at the time, the youngest champ in EPT history. At 19 years of age he shipped theEPT 2 Monte Carlo Grand Final for €900,000 ($1,084,036) after qualifying for the tournament through a satellite on PokerStars.

EPT Season 2 Main Event Winners

DateEventEntrantsMain Event WinnerCountryPrize
Sept. 16-17, 2005EPT Barcelona Open327Jan BoubliFrance€426,000
Sept. 30 – Oct. 2, 2005EPT London242Mark TeltscherUnited Kingdom€280,000
Oct. 4-6, 2005EPT Baden Classic180Patrik AntoniusFinland€288,180
Oct. 29-30, 2005EPT Dublin248Mats GavatinSweden€317,000
Jan. 19-22, 2006EPT Scandinavian Open, Copenhagen288Mads AndersenDenmarkDKr2,548,040
Feb. 8-11, 2006EPT French Open, Deauville434Mats IremarkSweden€480,000
March 7-11. 2006EPT Grand Final, Monte Carlo298Jeff WilliamsUnited States€900,000

Season 3 (2006-2007): Victoria Coren, Roland de Wolfe and Gavin Griffin All Win

Season 3 expanded from seven stops to eight stops. Deauville was temporarily removed from the schedule, and in its place, stops in Dortmund and Warsaw were added.

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Victoria Coren

Victoria Coren went on to win the first of her two EPT Main Event titles in London when she outlasted a field of 398 players to win £500,000 ($941,513). During Season 3, Coren also provided televised analysis alongside Daniel Negreanu, Greg Raymer and lead commentator James Hartigan.

Less than a month later, Roland de Wolfe won his only EPT Main Event title in Dublin by outlasting a field of 389 players to win €554,300 ($696,970).

Another big name won the EPT 3 Monte Carlo Grand Final:Gavin Griffin. He notched the biggest win of his poker career by taking down the top prize of €1,825,010 ($2,434,060). The field in this event grew to 706 players, the largest in EPT history at the time.

EPT Season 3 Main Event Winners

DateEventEntrantsMain Event WinnerCountryPrize
Sept. 13-16, 2006EPT Barcelona Open480Bjørn-Erik GlenneNorway€691,000
Sept. 21-24, 2006EPT London398Victoria CorenUnited Kingdom£500,000
Oct. 7-10, 2006EPT Baden Classic331Duc Thang NguyenGermany€487,397
Oct. 16-29, 2006EPT Dublin389Roland de WolfeUnited Kingdom€554,300
Jan. 17-20, 2007EPT Scandinavian Open, Copenhagen400Magnus PeterssonSwedenDKr4,078,080
March 8-11, 2007EPT German Open, Dortmund493Andreas HøivoldNorway€672,000
March 14-17, 2007EPT Warsaw Open284Peter JepsenDenmarkzł1,226,711
March 28 - April 2EPT Grand Final, Monte Carlo706Gavin GriffinUnited States€1,825,010

Season 4 (2007-2008): Bertrand Grospellier, Mike McDonald, Jason Mercier and Glen Chorny Victorious

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Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier

Season 4 grew from eight stops to 11. Prague and Sanremo were added along with the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA), an event won by Team PokerStars Pro Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier for $2,000,000, which was officially added as an EPT stop.

Grospellier's win was at the time the largest in EPT history, however, this was eclipsed later in the season when Glen Chorny outlasted a field of 842 players to win €2,020,000 ($3,196,354) in the EPT 4 Monte Carlo Grand Final. Even so, the 2008 PCA was the largest field size during the season and at the time in the history of the EPT Main Event with 1,136 joining the field in the Bahamas.

Mike McDonald became the youngest EPT Main Event winner, a record that stands to this day, when at 18 years old he won the second EPT event in Dortmund for €933,600 ($1,370,161).

Meanwhile, Season 4 was when Jason Mercier began to make a name for himself by shipping his first major live tournament he ever cashed in when he took down the EPT 4 Sanremo Main Event for €869,000 ($1,372,893). While Mercier never found himself in the winner's circle in an EPT Main Event in the future, he is currently in 13th place on The Hendon Mob's All Time Money List Current Rank with $17,414,702.

EPT Season 4 Main Event Winners

DateEventEntrantsMain Event WinnerCountryPrize
Aug. 28- Sept. 1 2007EPT Barcelona Open543Sander LylloffDenmark€1,170,700
Sept. 25-29, 2007EPT London392Joseph MouawadLebanon£611,520
Oct. 7-10, 2007EPT Baden Classic282Julian ThewUnited Kingdom€670,800
Oct. 30 - Nov. 3 2007EPT Dublin221Reuben PetersUnited States€532,620
Dec. 10-14, 2007EPT Prague555Arnaud MatternFrance€708,400
Jan. 5-10, 2008PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, Paradise Island1,136Bertrand GrospellierFrance$2,000,000
Jan. 29 - Feb. 2, 2008EPT German Open, Dortmund411Mike McDonaldCanada€933,600
Feb. 19-23, 2008EPT Scandinavian Open, Copenhagen460Tim VanceUnited StatesDKr6,220,488
March 11-15, 2008EPT Warsaw Open359Michael SchulzeGermanyzł2,153,999
April 1-5 2008EPT Sanremo707Jason MercierUnited States€869,000
April 12-17 2008EPT Grand Final, Monte Carlo842Glen ChornyCanada€2,020,000

Season 5 (2008-2009): Poorya Nazari and Pieter De Korver Break the $3 Million Barrier

One old stop returned in Deauville and a new one joined the club in Budapest, replacing Dublin and Baden in Season 5. The season began with Sebastian Ruthenberg shipping the Main Event in Barcelona for €1,361,000 ($1,941,401) followed by Michael Martin winning the Main Event in London for £1,000,000. Martin was perhaps overshadowed by EPT 4 Sanremo Main Event champion Jason Mercier, who won the EPT London £1 Million Showdown for £516,000 ($944,847).

Looking Back at the European Poker Tour Part One: The Early Years 105
Poorya Nazari

As the season progressed, things got even bigger when Poorya Nazari won the 2009 PCA Main Event for a cool $3 million, the highest top prize in EPT history. Both the 1,347 player field and the $12,674,000 prize pool set new EPT records as well.

Nazari's big win is often forgotten, since this was also the year that Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier won the PCA High Roller Event for $433,500 a year after he won the PCA Main Event.

While the 2009 PCA Main Event held the record for the largest field size throughout Season 5, its other two records were history by the time the season was on the books with the EPT 5 Monte Carlo Grand Final, generating a prize pool of €9,350,000 ($12,293,896). Pieter De Korver claimed the record-breaking top prize, which still holds to this day, of €2,300,000 ($3,024,167).

Meanwhile, Sandra Naujoks became the second woman to win an EPT Main Event title by winning the event in Dortmund for €917,000 ($1,159,541).

EPT Season 5 Main Event Winners

DateEventEntrantsMain Event WinnerCountryPrize
Sept. 10-14, 2008EPT Barcelona Open619Sebastian RuthenbergGermany€1,361,000
Oct. 1-5, 2008EPT London596Michael MartinUnited States£1,000,000
Oct. 28 - Nov. 1, 2008EPT Hungarian Open, Budapest532Will FryUnited Kingdom€595,840
Nov. 15-19, 2008EPT Warsaw Open217João BarbosaPortugal€367,140
Dec. 9-13, 2008EPT Prague570Salvatore BonavenaItaly€774,000
Jan. 5-10, 2009PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, Paradise Island1,347Poorya NazariCanada$3,000,000
Jan. 20-24, 2009EPT French Open, Deauville645Moritz KranichGermany€851,400
Feb. 17-21, 2009EPT Scandinavian Open, Copenhagen462Jens KyllönenFinlandDKr6,542,208
March 10-14, 2009EPT German Open, Dortmund667Sandra NaujoksGermany€917,000
April 18–23, 2009EPT Sanremo1,178Constant RijkenbergNetherlands€1,508,000
April 28 – May 3, 2009EPT Grand Final, Monte Carlo935Pieter de KorverNetherlands€2,300,000

Stay tuned at PokerNews for parts two and three of the history of the EPT.

  • The EPT's last festival kicks off in Prague. Let's look back at the early years.

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