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Season six structure debuts at EPT Kyiv
The sixth season of the PokerStars European Poker Tour kicked off in Kyiv, Ukraine this week with a brand new structure aimed at giving players more play.
During the tour's first five seasons the 10,000 chip starting stacks and rapidly increasing blinds had been widely criticized as being too fast a structure to be considered a deep-stacked event.
In response, EPT founder John Duthie, Tournament Director Thomas Kremser and Winamax pro and 2007 EPT Prague champion Arnaud Mattern helped design a new structure featuring 30k stacks, adjusted blind increases and 15 minutes added to the normal 60-minute levels after Day 1.
The new structure was rolled out first at the Season 5 Grand Final and Mattern says it definitely had the desired effect.
"I was sitting next to Thomas Kremser on the plane to Kyiv," Mattern said from the Ukranian capital.
"We discussed the Monte Carlo Grand Final, where the new structure was first tested, and agreed that things went according to plan in every regard: How long the days lasted, how fast the players got knocked out, how interesting the play was at the TV table compared to previous tournaments, etcetera.
"The final table lasted for six hours - not too long, and it showcased good quality of play."
Mattern said the structure was designed to ensure that losing a few pots early doesn't mean losing a chance at an EPT title and that's exactly the way things played out on the first day in Kyiv.
"I lost several small pots to fall from 30,000 to 23,000," he said. "Well, it wasn't a big deal. The table was soft. There was no reason to panic. With the previous structure, I would have been left with 3,000, a tough position to go back from.
"Today, I was still well in contention. I kept seeing flops until I found opportunities to chip back."
Arnaud ended Day 1a with 54,700 in chips and although things have not gone that well for him since, now headed in the tournament's third day with one of the shortest stacks, he believes the structure still holds advantages for seasoned pros.
"I would say that I'm happy with the structure I helped create," he said. "In theory, pros should get an advantage from it. But it's not a given.
"To perform well in this kind of structure, you have to be expert at all stages of a tournament: deep stack, medium stack and short-stack. During the course of this long tournament you'll face all of those situations and have to put your A-game on at all times.
"Some good players are great with a short and medium stack, but they can't handle a big one. Others are amazing at playing deep-stacked poker, but start making tons of mistakes when they get short."
EPT Kyiv heads into Day 3 Friday with 71 of the 296 starters remaining.
The leader board is littered with relatively unknown Russians, including overnight chip leader Vitaly Tolokonnikov.
But Arnaud still joked about the new structure paying dividends throughout the rest of the season.
"I fixed the whole thing in order to secure myself a second EPT win," he laughed.
The PokerStars EPT moves on to Barcelona next Sept. 4-9 before heading to London Oct 2-7.