STOP PRESS: Since this article was written, both the Red Spade Pass and the €250K bounty were won, by Sweden’s Viktor Wessmann and France’s Johann Zeitoun, above, respectively. Congratulations!
There’s a real buzz in the EPT Barcelona tournament area today, with the Main Event entering its deep stages on one side of the room and the enormous Mystery Bounty tournament getting very exciting on the other.
The reason for the excitement is, specifically, those bounties, which came into play this afternoon.
To quickly refresh your memory: Anybody securing an elimination on Day 2 of the event (i.e., today) gets a bounty ticket, which is essentially an invite to a huge tombola. The prizes are a fair bit better than what’s on offer at a village fete, however.
Cash prizes range from €1,000 to €250,000, with that money coming out of the bounty prize pool. But there are two bonus envelopes as well, whose contents are entirely added by PokerStars. Enclosed in one of them is a Platinum Pass to the PSPC. The other has a Red Spade pass to the Brazilian Grand Prix.
They are two huge bonus prizes, offering VIP treatment for lucky players. One of them, of course, might end up being the pass to far more lavish riches in the biggest $25,000 buy-in tournament ever hosted.
The tournament began today at 12.30pm, but bounties could only be cashed in at the dinner break, which began at roughly 5.15pm. Before that, tournament staff had to calculate the precise breakdown of the bounty payments, and then had to prepare the envelopes that would contain the prizes.
In all, there were 475 tickets containing one prize or another, which meant a feat of envelope stuffing for the hardy souls on the envelope-stuffing shift.
Here’s how the bounty prize pool was awarded:
1 x €250,000
1 x €100,000
1 x €75,000
1 x €50,000
2 x €25,000
7 x €10,000
14 x €5,000
21 x €2,000
425 x €1,000
1 x Red Spade Pass
1 x Platinum Pass
As the tournament clock ticked towards the moment the box would be opened, the crowds began to assemble in the tournament lobby. Half of them were clutching bounty tickets — they were arranged in a snaking line, as if waiting for a theme park ride — and half were just bystanders, hoping to catch a glimpse of the player who picked up one of the big ones.
The first player in the queue, who had been waiting for around an hour, was the shrinking violet William Kassouf. Ever the publicity hound, Kassouf was busy chatting with all the media and his friends as he awaited the chance to pick an envelope.
“I’ve got the first chance of winning the big one,” Kassouf said. “It’s unlikely, but you’ve got to be in it to win it.” He then speculated about drawing €10K and playing a high roller tomorrow.
“What a boss,” said a friend.
Kassouf plays up to his villain persona, and chuckled as everyone behind him started shouting for a €1K envelope as Kassouf finally put his hand into the box. He slowly squeezed his ticket into view and it was indeed just a €1,000 prize.
“One thousand!” shouted the staff member playing MC, news that was greeted with great cheers from down the hall.
“F—‘s sake,” muttered Kassouf.
“Hooray!” cheered everyone else.
This pattern repeated as the next five or six players drew their tickets. They were all €1,000 prizes. And it was slow going, as player copied Kassouf in prising open the envelopes like baccarat players slowly squeezing their cards.
Soon enough, the first €25K ticket came out, and then the €100K emerged too, squeezed out by the familiar hands of the French singer and poker enthusiast Patrick Bruel. Bruel does not need the money, but who would possibly say no to a €100K bonus?
At time of writing, the €250K is still to be picked out, as are both the valuable passes. But there are still plenty of tickets yet to be awarded as the tournament plays through its later stages. And if you’re wondering if there’s any strategy to picking bounties, we have the answers here too.
The tournament proper, by the way, is enormous. There were 1,132 entries of €3,000 apiece, with €1,716 of each of those buy-ins heading into the bounty prize pool. That means a total prize pool of €1,942,512 and €326,792 ready for the winner. That’s in addition to any bounties the players can amass.