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PokerStars EPT goes deep-stacked
Much to the delight of pros the world over, the PokerStars European Poker Tour is moving to a deeper structure for the Season 5 Grand Final in Monte Carlo and beyond.
With $10,000 starting stacks and rapidly increasing blinds, the standard EPT structure has been widely criticized as being too fast to be considered a deep-stacked tournament.
"People say these are deep-stacked events but they're not really," English pro Neil Channing told PokerListing's Rod Stirzaker at EPT London earlier in Season 5.
"Ten thousand is nothing in chips these days; people raise so much preflop, it's a preflop game ... This is masquerading as a deep-stacked event when in reality, it's not at all."
In response to the growing concerns, EPT founder John Duthie and Tournament Director Thomas Kremser turned to French pro and 2007 EPT Prague champion Arnaud Mattern for his input.
Mattern, part of the immensely successful Team Winamax, got together with French player, math expert and backgammon legend François Tardieu to design several models for a new structure.
After a few tweaks from Kremser and Duthie, a new structure for this year's Grand Final and for all the main events in Season 6 was revealed Tuesday.
"They wanted to use it for next season, but they were so happy with the structure they are going to use it right away in Monte Carlo at the Grand Final," Mattern told PokerListings.
"I think it's going to be a very good balance between busting people at a reasonable speed and managing to give a lot of room for skilled players to accumulate chips."
In response to similar criticism, the World Series of Poker made major changes to the structures of all its tournaments in 2007, doubling the starting stacks. However, the blinds were also doubled, effectively nullifying the increased stacks.
In 2008, adjustments were made to the structure to allow for more play, and the result was a staggering increase in the number of seasoned pros winning WSOP bracelets.
The new EPT structure will feature $30k stacks, adjusted blind increases and 15 minutes added to the normal 60-minute levels after Day 1. Mattern expects these changes to have a similar effect.
"I think it will be good for poker," he said. "It's good for the pros. They are going to show up more often at final tables and that's good for TV also because people who watch the show want to see Daniel Negreanu; they want to see Annette and Gus Hansen.
"They want to see all these players, not just someone they don't know in a shove-fest. That's not good for the long term. I think this is good for everybody."
In addition to the new structure for the €10,000 main event, the Season 5 Grand Final in Monte Carlo, running April 27 to May 3, will also feature an increased schedule.
PokerStars is planning a three-day €25,000 European High Roller Championship and a two-day €5,000 European Pot-Limit Omaha Championship, plus €5k, €2k, €1k and €500 No-Limit Hold'em side events and a number of live satellites.
There will be two supersatellites for the Main Event and the high roller tournament, plus a supersatellite tournament giving players the chance to win seats at any future PokerStars tour destination.