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What's Your Most Memorable EPT Moment? Pros & Staff Reflect
At the final stop of the European Poker Tour in Prague this past week we asked players and staff what their most precious memory of it is.
From an outsider's perspective there is the only two-time winner in Vicky Coren-Mitchell or Glen Chorny winning over $3 million in the EPT Grand Final as obvious high-water marks.
But if you drill down into the memory banks of those who have poured their heart and soul into the EPT, from the sidelines and on the felt, it's clearly much more than just a list of notable numbers or grand achievements.
There should be honorable mentions for the Hofburg in Vienna as the most beautiful venue the EPT has ever been to – although Lee Jones would disagree. Or San Remo as a serial producer of new stars of the game like Jason Mercier and Liv Boeree.
Not everything that glittered was gold, of course. For example Constant Rijkenberg (San Remo again) who took selling shares to a completely new level. Or Ivan Freitez and his – let’s say questionable - play at the one Grand Final that took place in Madrid.
We, ourselves, cherish the memory of the incredible free buffet the players were treated to at the Casino Barcelona and the small-yet-so-cozy EPT in the Alps they called the Snowfest.
Here are a few more memories from the people who’ve been there and helped make history.
Liv Boeree, EPT San Remo Champion 2010
"My most memorable moment was of course when I won EPT San Remo, A moment in my life that is incomparable to anything else."
Celina Lin, Red Dragon Champion 2012
"Most memorable moment of the EPT? It would have to be my first EPT main event. I was seated at the feature table with 3 EPT champions!
"Let's say it was a tough table to navigate through but it was great to watch on TV the following year. Brought back very fond memories for me."
Daniel Negreanu, Perennial EPT star
"My most memorable moment was a 4th-place finish in the EPT Grand Final at an incredibly tough table for a non-high roller event.
"So rare to see a table full of known pros in a massive field like that and it was an honor to be at it. Ultimately I ran unlucky to lose a big pot to Johnny Lodden with QQ vs his 99 and Steve O'Dwyer went on to win it."
Felipe Mojave, 1st Brazilian to cash in an EPT
"I had many many EPT memorable moments, serious ones, funny ones ... including being the first Brazilian ever to cash and appear in a feature table in history.
"And when Jason Mercier was sharing a room with me during EPT London and he final tabled the High Roller Event and was out of clothes to wear on the last day.
"He came to me and said 'Buddy, where is that lucky jacket you have? Can you lend it to me? That jacket is so lucky that I will give you a piece if you guarantee I am going to win.'
"Then I said 'Take this other one! Hahah! Needless to say he won. But I think my most memorable moment during the EPTs was when under TV pressure and Day 3 of PCA I got right a Q-high call to be on top of the chip counts on Day 4.
"That meant I was on top of the game too and not only a newly turned pro with passion for the game. I will miss the EPT for real, but I'm very excited for the Championships and Festivals."
Jason Mercier, EPT San Remo Champion 2008
"My most memorable moment of the EPT was playing my first-ever EPT in 2008. It was my first-ever trip to Europe and I was excited just to be able to play the event.
"Luckily for me I was able to win the whole thing and take down the title at EPT San Remo."
Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, EPT PCA Champion 2008
"My most memorable moment in the EPT is definitely my win at the PCA 2008, which was my first live tournament win and the beginning of everything for me. This memory is still so vivid within me."
Fatima de Melo, Olympic Gold Medalist and EPT Regular
"Actually my first year at PCA I had a blast at the charity tournament where 'Tony Almeida' from 24, who had no clue how to play poker, kept winning hand after hand for about 20 hands and I just couldn’t stop laughing (you had to be there...)
"But a lot of times during EPTs I've actually enjoyed the level of poker that was being played, the friends I've met. Leo Margets in particular, a friend for life! And Vanessa Selbst who frequently kicks my ass at tennis.
"But also my old roomy Lex (Raszi) Veldhuis who taught me what poker is really about and whom I consider family. Not to forget about the Belgian Twins Mattias and Cristophe de Meulder who have such amazing energy, and I'll always remember them for the intense time we shared on the Dutch/Belgian version of Survivor.
"And last but definitely not least the Pokerstars staff, who throughout the years have always made me feels at home whenever I arrived at any EPT. So I guess it hasn’t been all about the poker, but a huge part about the people that are and have been around."
Andre Akkari, Brazilian Icon and WSOP bracelet winner
"One of my biggest dreams is to win an EPT event; unfortunately so far it didn’t happen but it will. I remember in Monte Carlo 2015 I thought that l’d be the one.
"I finished in 23rd place, playing my best poker ever after I did a deep run on FPS and got the final table of Shark Cage, which was an incredible week. But I didn’t win it.
"That poker room, the atmosphere; sometimes when I close my eyes I can imagine what it’d be like if I got it! But its comingggg ..."
Howard Swains, PokerStarsblog.com
"While I was working at a newspaper in London I received a phone call. I was asked if I would be interested in playing in a poker event in Vienna, which was part of this new thing, the European Poker Tour.
"We are talking about Season 1, and although I’ve never been a player and I was never supposed to make it too deep, it was really special. I wrote an article on the poker event and after that PokerStars contacted me and asked me to work for them. And then it all went from there."
Robin Scherr, PokerStarsblog.de
"The PCA party in 2011 with Kerry Rowland in concert was incredible. The party took place in a huge hall that was packed out, and it felt like almost everyone was dancing. Best party in the history of the EPT, hands down."
Rick Dacey, Corporate Writer at PokerStars
"I think watching the three-handed failed negotiations at EPT9 Prague was a personal highlight. Ramzi Jelassi, who went on to win, was very matter-of-fact saying that he felt he was the best player and most likely to win.
"It wasn’t arrogance; just an acknowledgment that he had twice the chips of Boyaciyan and years of experience. Jelassi was still prepared to deal, but was not willing to give up any equity.
"Greek player Sotirios Koutoupas was in the final three players with only his second recorded live tournament cash. It was huge money for the amateur player and he was understandably willing to budge to secure a guaranteed larger life-changing payday. But the final player in the tale, Dutch player David Boyacayin, simply tried to milk too much.
"Koutoupas offered some pretty large concessions, but it wasn’t enough and things became increasingly heated. One suspects that Koutoupas felt somewhat insulted and, after some hour of back and forth, said: 'Ramzi says no, so I play. Let's play. Let's gamble.'
"Not only did Koutoupas finish second for €510,000 but he went on to win a title at EPT10 Deauville beating Eugene Katchalov for a further €610,000 sealing his place as number one on the Greece All Time Money List."
Edgar Stuchly, President of the EPT
"This is a hard question as there have been so many great moments over the years. From a winning moments perspective, considering what a great achievement it is to win an EPT Main Event once, Vicky Coren Mitchell being crowned the first and only two-time Champion would be one of my favorite moments on the tour.
"However from a personal perspective, the success of the merge of EPT and our National Tours from 2012 onwards and how our events have grown and evolved since then is something I'll always remember.
"My favorite memories are largely filled with the incredible, talented people I've had the opportunity to meet and work with over the years. And I expect to create many more of these kinds of memories with the next chapter of our live events."
Lee Jones, Director of Communications at PS
"I remember the first time I saw the Salle des Etoiles at the Monte Carlo Bay in Monte Carlo, all filled out with poker tables for the EPT Grand Final, and the lights of the Monte Carlo harbor behind it at night.
"And I thought 'This is the most beautiful poker room ever, of all time.' It was an exquisite venue for poker and I’ve never forgotten that first look at it."
James Hartigan, The voice of the EPT
"My most memorable moment from the European Poker Tour was the time I actually PLAYED an EPT. My first experience of the tour was in February 2005 when I was invited, as a journalist, to play in the EPT 1 Deauville Main Event.
"I loved the experience but only made it as far as Day 2. Before busting I eliminated a loose-aggressive player at my table who I thought was a complete donk. I called his shove with AQ. He tabled KJ.
"The board bricked out. Ace-high held. I shook my opponent’s hand and he walked off. A member of PokerStars staff then came over and said, “You just eliminated ElkY!” My response: “Who…?”
"I’m pleased to say I now know who he is :-)"
What's Your Favorite EPT Moment?
There are still so many things that haven’t been mentioned here that we could turn this article into a 10-part series without repeating a single thing.
If you want to share your personal favorite please leave a note in the comments below. It's not just the pros that have been part of and made something great.
It also doesn’t mean you shouldn’t look ahead. The former PCA – PokerStars Caribbean Adventure – is kicking off as the PCB – PokerStars Championship Bahamas – in early January already.
We'll be there front and center to help begin a new chapter of amazing poker stories.