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EPT9 Prague: Qualifier of the Day: Paul Porter

It's the oft told story but it explains the easiest, or let's say most cost effective way of playing a European Poker Tour event - qualify online on PokerStars.

One man who did just that is Englishman Paul Porter, who starts his first ever EPT event today, joining the largest EPT Prague field in the event's six year history. We caught up with the 37-year-old, from Stevenage, at the first break, having made it through the first two levels of the day unscathed.

"It's a great atmosphere, everything I dreamed off," said Porter, enjoying a well-earned cigarette break. "Like I say I could never afford to buy in direct. It's quite a big step for me. On my wish list if you like."

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Paul Porter

Porter's route to Prague is an example to anyone looking for a first taste of high stakes tournament poker without the €5,000 fee. First a $33 Steps satellite, followed by a win in an $215 re-buy. The rest is on PokerStars.

"It's never something I could really afford to buy into direct so I went through the qualifying stages and got lucky," said Porter.

That "luck" brings him to Prague just five years after taking up the game.

"I used to play at a friend's house," said Porter. "I never knew the rules and they said just 'join in' and it grew from there."

It's the usual suggestion when a group of experienced players find themselves a curious newbie wanting to know more. But Porter got the bug and was soon playing on PokerStars. In fact, one of those friends who taught him to play has travelled to Prague with him, while his fiancé and step-daughter will be watching from home.

"They thought it was a bit of a phase I was going through when it started," he said. "But they know I take it quite seriously now."

It's a long way from the poker room at the G Casino in Luton, or online where Porter, an account manager for a logistics firm by day, usually plays $50 or $100 tournaments on PokerStars.

"The first levels were good," he said of his first EPT session. "It takes a while to settle in. That's why I played Day 1B. I came here on Saturday and got a feel for the atmosphere yesterday."

That atmosphere means playing alongside the likes of Liv Boeree and Jason Mercier, players he's more used to watching on TV than rubbing shoulders with. It's all part of the experience.

So a dream opportunity and a shot at one of this year's biggest prizes. Not bad for $33.

Follow hand-by-hand coverage, plus latest chip counts, in the panel at the top of the main EPT Prague page.

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