Cast your mind back with us, if you will, to a time when the idea of an EPT London Festival of this size was a flight of fancy. When creator John Duthie took his much-fabled bath and conceived the European Poker Tour, he knew, of course, he was going to host event in London. He just didn’t know for certain what monster he was creating.
And so October 9, 2004 we saw the first-ever EPT London.
It was a small buy-in by today’s EPT standards, a mere €4,000. One hundred seventy-five people bought in to create a prize pool the equivalent of €763,379. The eventual winner, John Shipley, earned €291,276 for his victory.
Back then, the PokerStars Blog didn’t even exist, and wouldn’t for another six months. The news of Shipley’s win would not go out to a worldwide audience. Looking back, the little event that ran at the Grosvenor Victoria casino was almost quaint by today’s standards. The comparison is pretty astounding if you look at the numbers side by side. And we’re getting to that, so hang with us. This is a walk down memory lane and there’s no reason to just jump to the climax, you know?
A year later, the buy-in remained the same, but the number of players had increased to 236. EPT London saw its first prize pool that eclipsed €1 million. That year, Mark Teltscher won more than €400,000. By then, the PokerStars Blog had breathed life. Still, the event was still small enough that we had but one blogger manning the keyboard and camera.
You’ll note our figures at the top are listed in euros. Back then, when the record-keepers were filling in the databases, they did it all without regard for the actual currency in use for the event, the British pound. It wasn’t until the next year that the records accurately reflected the reality of the buy-ins and the size of the ever-growing event.
It was then EPT London caught fire. Three hundred and ninety-eight people paid an even bigger buy-in and saw Vicky Coren win the then-biggest EPT London prize pool for £500,000. In just three short years, the size of the field had doubled. The size of the prize pool had more than doubled. EPT London was on the map and it was clear it wasn’t going away. People began to expect bigger fields and bigger money every year and they weren’t disappointed.
Season 4? Joseph Mouawad beat out 391 other players to win £611,500.
Season 5? Michael Martin triumphed over a field of 596 for a money-added £1,000,000 win.
And now…Season 6.
Once again the size of the field has grown. A team of eight bloggers, two photographers, and four videographers is covering a field of 730 players who are all fighting for their chunk of a £3,540,500 prize pool. This year’s event is the biggest major poker tournament ever held in the UK.
Since its humble start in 2004, the size of the EPT London fields has grown by more than four times. The first place prize for the 2009 main event is bigger than the entire prize pool of the first EPT London. EPT London now requires a casino and a hotel ballroom. There is already talk that next year will require even more space. And if our arthritic fingers are any indication, we’re going to need an even bigger blog team.
Add to that the hundreds of thousands of pounds being won in the 2009 EPT London festival and you have proof positive that what Duthie and PokerStars have created is an unqualified success.
It all, of course, begs the question what Season 7 will bring. Right now, we simply don’t have the mental capacity to figure it. After all, this record breaking event is only in Day 2 and we still have a champion to crown.