EPT: Modest beginnings to major prestige

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The PokerStars European Poker Tour brings its most successful season ever to a close this weekend in Monte Carlo.

This Saturday the poker world turns its eyes to the French Riviera and the tiny principality of Monaco, home of the Sporting Club at Monte Carlo Bay Hotel and host of the fourth annual European Poker Tour Grand Final.

In four short years the Grand Final has become one of the richest and most prestigious tournaments in the world.

With a price tag of €10,000, it sports the fourth-highest buy-in of the world's major multi-table tournaments, coming in behind the $50,000 Rob Hollink topped a field of 211 players to take home €635,000.

After the success of the first season, the EPT responded to the demands of the marketplace by raising its buy-ins to create richer prize pools. The first six events on the Season 2 schedule had buy-ins of €4,000, while the Grand Final remained at €10,000. The average number of players (287) and the average first prize (€440,000) were both up from the first season, signaling both the growth of the European poker market and the popularity of the EPT itself.

It was Season 3 that set the stage for the biggest changes in the EPT's young history, with the expansion of the tour's schedule. The German Open was added to the list of events before the season ever began, but a more important expansion took place after the French Open was cancelled.

The event was shut down, in the words of PokerStars, "as a direct result of last-minute intervention by the French authorities making it impossible for the Lucien Barrière group to run a poker tournament on their premises in Deauville." Rather than leaving a slot in its schedule open, the EPT created a new event: the EPT Polish Open in Warsaw. The €4,000 tournament was a success, drawing 284 players and crowning Peter Jepsen champion with a €325,633 first prize.

The tour's third season finished with its highest-yet averages for number of players (435) and first prize (€730,000), capped off by Griffin's victory at the record-setting Grand Final.



Total no. of players

Total prize pool

Season 1



Season 2



Season 3



Season 4*






* Numbers include all Season 4 tournaments except EPT Grand Final

Fourth-season success

The fourth season of the EPT has capitalized on the success of the previous seasons by playing on its strengths. The buy-ins went up yet again, ranging from €5,000 to €8,000, and the tour saw a rise in the number of players - each tournament averaged 506 rounders.

The expansion of the tour schedule continued as well. Following on the heels of the third season's stop in Warsaw, the EPT returned there and also added stops in Prague, Czech Republic, and San Remo, Italy. The PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, recently orphaned from the World Poker Tour, also found a new home on the EPT and drew a record field of its own. With the tour now rivaling the WPT in terms of prize pools, player turnout and prestige, its future can only get brighter.

The Grand Final expects yet another record-breaking turnout and looks set to draw the fourth season of the EPT to a close in style. Be sure to join the PokerListings.com all-star tournament reporting team for all the action in our Live Tournaments section beginning tomorrow, April 11, at 1:00 p.m. (CET).

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