From the mind of a poker player with the heart of a cinemaphile came the European Poker Tour, brainchild of one John Duthie.
The EPT redefined live tournament poker and was easily the benchmark - at least outside of the WSOP - for live poker excellence for a decade.
With the transition of PokerStars ownership after Black Friday and the evolution of the live tour, Duthie parted ways with his former employers but within a few years the poker world would reap the benefits of his expertise all over again when he became the director and president of the revitalized partypoker Live Tour.
Late But Successful Start in Film and TV
The future brass of the European poker scene was born May 13, 1958, in Yorkshire, England. But it would be a long time before Duthie's two loves - poker and movies - came into his life.
Not until the age of 32 did Duthie feel compelled to become a film director. Always a driven person he gave himself just five years to determine whether he could make it in the industry.
Prepossessed with a career in television, at first Duthie happily succumbed to performing gopher tasks such as fetching coffee for actors on set. Within the five-year timeframe, though, the opportunities started to pile up and before long, he was a working director.
During the 1990s Duthie was an assistant director on several projects including the murder-mystery series Agatha Christie's Poirot and, in the U.S., The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.
Into 2000 Duthie's work branched off into directing projects for television, including well-known British series Burn It, As If and Clocking Off.
A Signature Poker Win
If he was late finding his way to the film industry Duthie was even more delayed in latching onto the poker community. He didn't start playing the game until 1990 when already working as a director.
Demanding filming schedules meant Duthie was frequently tied up for several months at once but would try to make room for poker during his large chunks of time without work.
At the time it was just a hobby he enjoyed with modest success. Duthie had cashed and won a couple tournaments prior to the Poker Million 2000 championship in the Isle of Man, but wasn't a top contender at what was then a colossal tournament.
Still, Duthie impressed his skeptics at the final table with a strong performance before knocking out Israeli player Teddy Tuil in heads-up action. The win netted him recognition - it was a televised final table featuring the likes of Simon Trumper and Hendon Mobster Barny Boatman - not to mention a hefty $1.4 million paycheck.
Though his tournament cashes came with great regularity after the big win, Duthie didn't bag any significant placements again until 2003. Then, he finished second in the €5,000 European Heads Up Championships. He followed up that performance with a win in the €300 No-Limit Hold'em event at the 2004 Vienna Spring Festival.
The EPT Grows Into a Giant
The same year, ideas started to swirl in Duthie's head about what would become the European Poker Tour. More precisely, Duthie was soaking in the bathtub one day, when the thought presented itself to him.
It all seemed very logical: he knew the film and television industry, he'd found success on the poker tournament circuit and he knew the European casinos, not to mention their staff, from his travels.
"I think it was just a perfect marriage of my skills," he told PokerListings.com in 2007.
The tour became a success, to say the least, flourishing to become a multi-country televised poker series featuring Europe's biggest tournaments. The tour was partnered with online poker room PokerStars.com and helmed by Duthie, whose official title was CEO and executive producer.
The EPT became the signature poker series across Europe and over time drew more and more players from overseas. The brand had major cachet value, beautiful locations and top-caliber service and events that only grew over time.
In Duthie's 8 seasons years at the helm the EPT became the richest and most attended poker tour outside of Vegas with 12 stops per year in 10 countries. Attendance records were smashed perpetually and players who would go on to become some of the biggest names in poker established themselves with wins on the EPT including Jason Mercier, Bertrand Grospellier and Liv Boeree.
John Duthie Takes Helm of partypoker Live
In 2012 Duthie resigned as CEO of the EPT to "open himself to other opportunities" but it wasn't until 2017 that the next big one arose. After a trip to Punta Cana with partypoker and a conversation with Rob Yong, Trumper and Tom Waters, Duthie signed a five-year contract to become the Head of the partypoker Live Tour.
The goal was to make it the #1, most player-friendly live tour in the world and in just a short time they already reached phenomenal heights with a resurgent partypoker Millions calendar and several
massive events held in Europe and the Caribbean.
Still a Poker Player - and Filmmaker - at Heart
Running one of Europe's biggest poker franchises didn't deter Duthie from bellying up to the tournament table some himself as he continued to compete in both European and North American events.
Though success at the World Series of Poker has eluded Duthie he did final-table in 2005 in the $5,000 Short-Handed No-Limit event only to bust out first for $55,750.
He's returned in a modest way to tournament poker over the last few years with appearances and cashes on the partypoker Live tour (Irish Open, partypoker Millions Barcelona, partypoker Millions Rozvadov and at the WSOP/Aria in Vegas.
With $2.8 million in career live earnings Duthie's never been a slouch at the tables despite it not being his ultimate legacy in the game. Poker accomplishments notwithstanding Duthie's heart hasn't strayed too far from his first love: the film industry. Future plans, he says, include making a feature film.
"I think that a return to directing drama will be inevitable," says Duthie, "because although I enjoy poker as a game to play and as a hobby, I think that for me personally it's probably limited in the way it satisfies any sort of creative urge that I have in my body."
In addition to his movie hobby Duthie enjoys spending time with his wife and two sons, John and Rupert. In his free time he enjoys golf, fishing, reading and music.