Big Winners, Famous Cities and Rebranding of the Infamous EPT
The European Poker Tour (or EPT for short) started in 2004 as a rival to the hugely successful World Poker Tour. While most stops were in Europe, this tour would eventually include tournament events in the Bahama’s and even Russia.
In 2011, PokerStars took over the EPT. There was a period of rivalry between the tours – as Party Poker owned the WPT. There would be a rebrand in 2016, with the tour becoming part of the ‘PokerStars Championships’ series. Several stops on the Championships tour still keep the EPT badge.
This page covers the full history of the European Poker Tour, from start-up to the present day. Here is what you will find below:
In many ways John Duthie was the perfect candidate for starting the European Poker Tour. He was already an accomplished poker player. He won the ‘Poker Millions’ televised tournament in the Isle of Man in the year 2000 (among many other accolades). He was also a TV producer.
Back in 2004, poker was at the early stages of a boom which would see it propelled onto TV screens around the world.
The rival World Poker Tour already had stops in Europe. What made the EPT different in the beginning, was the entry fees were much lower. Many amateur players could not afford the $10,000 entry typical of WPT main events. This structure proved to be a success. In fact, the events became too big by season 3, and the entry prices were increased in an effort to keep the numbers down.
TV commentary bought poker to millions of people, with the EPT contributing to the global poker boom – as well as benefiting from it.
As poker grew in popularity after 2004, more and more stops were added to the European Poker Tour. Some venues featured regularly. These included London, Deauville, Barcelona and Monte Carlo (where the yearly finals are held). Many other cities have hosted multiple event.
Below you will find the stops for each season, along with notable winners:
The inaugural season saw just 7 stops. These were Barcelona, London, Dublin, Copenhagen, Deauville, Vienna and Monte Carlo. European and British players dominated the tournaments. The grand final in Monte Carlo was won by Dutchman Rib Hollink, who took home EUR 635,000.
Another 7 stops, with many of the same venues from the inaugural season. The time the Vienna stop was replaced by an event in Baden. That was won by Patrik Antonius, who would go on to become a well known ‘nosebleeds’ high-stakes player – taking on Tom Dwan in the ‘Durrr Challenge’.
Following Chris Moneymaker’s victory in the World Series of Poker, the poker boom was in full swing. Season 3 of the European Poker Tour saw 8 stops, and a huge top prize at the grand final. The stops were, Barcelona, London, Baden, Dublin, Copenhagen, Dortmund, Warsaw and Monte Carlo. Notable winners include Victoria Coren (London) and Gavin Griffin (Monte Carlo).
Entry fees were raised on this season, in an attempt to moderate the huge fields that the events were attracting. There were 11 stops this year. For the first time the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure was included in the schedule. That event was won by Bertrand ‘Elky’ Grospellier. Other notable winners in season 4 included Jason Mercier.
Venues switch around once again in season 5. Budapest (Hungary) and San Remo (Italy) were added to the list, with the staples of London, Deauville and Barcelona holding their spots. This season would see many relative unknowns take the honours – and the increasingly large prize pools. These included winners from Germany, the Netherlands and Finland.
Things were booming for the EPT at this point. A full schedule of 13 stops was unveiled. This included the ‘Snowfest’ in Salzburg (Austria) and a stop in Kiev (Ukraine). 2009 also saw the first stop in Portugal. Notable winners include UK poker pros Jake Cody and Liv Boeree. 2010 was famous for the robbery at the Berlin EPT event. Play was stopped, and a manhunt got underway after armed robbers took cash from the venue. They were eventually caught and sent to prison.
PokerStars now owned the EPT brand – and were able to use their online reach to offer satellite qualifiers to the 13 events. Stops in Tallinn (Estonia) were added, and the grand final was moved to Madrid for this season. Notable winners included David Vamplew and Galen Hall – who took a staggering $2,300,000 for winning the PokerStars Caribbean adventure.
The grand final returned to Monte Carlo this season, with Mohsin Chanrania taking the top prize of EUR 1,350,000. New stops on the tour appeared in Greece, and Campione (Italy), with others being dropped to keep 13 events in the schedule. Danish players showed strongly this time, with 3 wins in a row for different pros from Denmark.
This was the first time the number over events had been reduced. There were 8 stops this season, covering; Barcelona, San Remo, Prague, the PCA, Deauville, London and Berlin – before the grand final in Monte Carlo. The 2013 grand final was won by Steve O’Dwyer, who took home more than EUR1.2 million.
Another 8 stops and a repeat win for Victoria Coren – who added to her earlier success by taking down the EPT San Remo. The breadth of poker popularity was shown this season, with winners coming from countries as diverse as Greece, Italy and the Ukraine. The grand final was won by Antonio Buonanna – who won more than EUR 1.2 million.
The number of stops on the tour was reduced to 7 for season 11. The only new venue was Malta, an event taken down by Frenchman Jean Montury. Prize pools started to become smaller, with many competing tours and the poker boom years now gone. The grand final of 2015 was won by a Spanish player for the first time. Adrian Mateos took home more than a million Euros.
This would be the last ‘full’ season of the European Poker Tour before PokerStars rebranded many of the events. With only 6 stops scheduled – and including the PCA in the Bahamas for the first time – there were still some big prize pools to be fought over. Notable winners this season include John Juanda, who took down the Barcelona event and Canadian Mike Watson – winner of the PCA.
I have grouped these together as there are now only a few tournaments running under the EPT badge. There are still huge events at many of the venues, though these run under different names. PokerStars, who still own the EPT brand, have branded many tournaments as ‘PokerStars Championship’ events.
Notable stops on the current smaller EPT schedule include Sochi in Russia. The events in Barcelona and Prague also continue. While you will no longer find these on TV, you can watch live streams with commentary via the EPT official website.