The EPT has been to Monte Carlo, it’s been to London, Barcelona, Copenhagen and many more. We have played tournaments at the heart of the bustling metropolis, and done the same beside the beaches and the sea. But among all these glamourous locations, there is something unique about Casino Hohensyburg, on the outskirts of Dortmund, Germany. This may be the industrial heartland of Europe, but out of the window I can see trees. For one week only on a nine-month tour, the EPT has come to the countryside. And I like it.
So, it seems, do the poker players of the world. As we await the start of day 1a, there is a long, long line of people snaking through the lobby in front of the registration desk. For those whose name is already on the list, and their wallets lighter to the tune of €5,000, these anxious moments are an exercise in killing time and finding focus. Some players are wandering around the forest, some are gathered in small groups beneath plumes of smoke. Others are already sitting nervously around the tables in the main tournament room, signing television waiver forms, exchanging tales of qualification, plans for the opening levels — and no doubt a few fears.
That is the scene before us now: thirty poker tables and a bristle of anticipation. Within a few minutes, they will all be filled with players sitting behind stacks of 10,000 chips. As usual, we will be playing one-hour levels with blinds starting at 25-50. The plan is to play through the end of level eight and then come back tomorrow to do it all again.
Early indications suggest that we may get more than 600 players. This, and the full amount of money they are playing for, will be decided some time tomorrow. As ever, this will be the place for the latest news, chip-counts, photographs and video blogs. Stay tuned – we will start very soon.