When you cover a tournament circuit like the EPT for season after season, you get used to seeing familiar faces at the tables. There are many players making trips time and again alongside folk you've never seen before; some are PokerStars qualifiers enjoying their first taste of live action, others a load of local players taking advantage of such a prestigious event on their doorstep.
Yet despite there having been so many EPT events over the years, every now and again a famous 'old-timer' turns up for the first time to set the tournament floor alight. The EPT draw is so big that eventually they just have to give it a go.
I first experienced this at EPT Copenhagen back in 2007, which was Season 3, when, out of the blue, T J Cloutier turned up to play. Initially I thought it was because his old friend Tom McEvoy, then a member of Team PokerStars Pro, had traveled to Scandinavia to take part, but I recall T J was actually a PokerStars qualifier!
Cloutier, a huge man, was a tough cookie at the tables and went on to claim 20th place for a $13,000 pay day, not bad for his first EPT.
Wind forward to 2011 and this season's EPT London. Out of nowhere, Doyle Brunson casually arrived at Edgware Road to play the event. Widely regarded as the Godfather of poker, this was one famous old face we never really expected to see at an EPT. But Brunson had waited until Season 8 and decided that was obviously long enough. He made it all the way to 77th place, cashing for $14,000.
And though I hate to call her an "old timer", Jennifer Harman played her first EPT at San Remo only last month. It just goes to show how highly regarded the PokerStars European Poker Tour is. Even after all this time, big names will travel from far afield to play.
Keen PokerStars Blog readers will have noticed a similar story on the other side of the world in Macau today, where a certain Phil Ivey showed up out of the blue to take his seat at PokerStars APPT Macau.
* * * *
We are publishing these daily review articles throughout November as PokerStars gears up to celebrate its 10th Anniversary.
Liv Boeree, winner
Rocking all over the world
The Selbst Factor
Milestones to go before we sleep
World Cup of Poker
The Bear Necessities
SCOOP, hold the front page
Slaying the EPT monkey
When two cards just won't do
ElkY, one name says it all
Going live at the PCA
It's a bling thing
Online wizards cast their spell
The EPT circus
Making world champions