As EPT Retro starts on PokerStars’ Twitch and YouTube channels, we are dipping back into our archive to find how we reported the earliest days of the European Poker Tour. Here’s everything you didn’t realise you needed to know about EPT Season 1.
RESULTS AND REPORTS
Dates: October 9-10, 2004
Prize pool: £524,410
Winner: John Shipley, UK, £200,000
Dates: October 23-24, 2004
Prize pool: €244,500
Winner: Ram Vaswani, UK, €93,000
Dates: January 29-30, 2005
Buy-in: DKr 20,000
Prize pool: DKr 2,883,825
Winner: Noah Boeken, Netherlands, DKr1,098,340 ($191,355 approx)
PokerStars Blog took its first ever trip to Europe for the Scandinavian Open in January 2005. That meant a former TV news reporter named Brad Willis traded the crime beat in Greenville, South Carolina, for the international poker circuit.
Apart from losing his luggage, buying Guinness (in Denmark!), and spelling “Scandinavian” incorrectly for the first day, Willis proved to be quite good at the poker blogging game. So much so that Willis is still in charge of PokerStars Blog 15 years later, while numerous other poker reporters have come and gone, attempting (but never quite managing) to replicate the original and best at the tournament reporting game.
It’s notable that the first poker player Willis encountered from his despatch from Denmark was a young kid best known by his online moniker “ZeeJustin”. That kid, Justin Bonomo, is now second on poker’s all-time money list. Willis is undisputedly top of something similar for poker bloggers.
Read some of Willis’s despatches by clicking the links below. Unfortunately none of the images have survived the shift across numerous platforms and URLs, but the words are a crisp as ever. In Copenhagen, we watched on as a young Dutch hotshot named Noah “Exclusive” Boeken beat the British pro Ram Vaswani heads up.
Vaswani, you might note, was already a previous EPT champion having prevailed in Dublin a few months before. Had Boeken not been so ruthless, Vaswani would have become the first double champion within the first season, and ended what became one of the EPT’s longest hoodoos before it even began.
Welcome to the European Poker Tour
The boy had never been to Spain. And he’d never been to England…READ MORE
Naked in Copenhagen
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against being naked… READ MORE
Pre-Game, Scandinavian Style
There is something physically and emotionally satisfying about a workday that begins in the PM…READ MORE
Saturday final report
You are now entering the den of insanity…READ MORE
EPT Scandinavian Open Final Report
These guys were artists. They were scientists. They were championship players. They may have been hanging on each other for strength and throwing half-hearted gut-punches when they could find the energy, but they had gone the distance. READ MORE
THE FULLER STORY:
The final table in Deauville proved to be an American dominated affair, with all of the prize money from the top four places heading over the Atlantic from northern France. Not only that, but all of the top four finishers were PokerStars qualifiers, earning their passage to Normandy after playing online. It was very much the shape of things to come.
Brad Willis was again in attendance, peering over the final table, battling his Bonomo fetish, hearing John Gale utter “That’s poker!” as he was knocked out, and struggling to come to terms with the absence of a bathroom.
He also listened to a woman who “had blonde hair, hanging long down over her low-cut shirt“, and watched as Dave “Devilfish” Uliot accepted his lifetime achievement award.
THE FULLER STORY:
The Concord Card Casino in the Austrian capital hosted the penultimate stop of the first season of the EPT — and I, for one, remember it well. (That’s my one and only attempt to play a tournament with a buy-in of more than about $50, by the way, and I didn’t even pay for it.)
In his now-typical post-flight musings, Willis was sarcastically chastised for losing his baggage tag (especially galling because Lufthansa had lost the actual bag). But he eventually got to the tournament room and found Kevin Fangerow, from Chicago, to share some dinner chit-chat with, before becoming mesmerised by rising star Luca Pagano and an epic fold he made on the last hand of the first day.
Since you’re asking, I finished 73rd. I was not featured on PokerStars Blog.
Before all that, we saw a heated Day 1, with cameos from Marcel Luske, Schaefer, Ben Grundy, Chris Moneymaker and Greg Raymer, among others.
Brad Willis had his eyes on the prize all the way, of course. “I also had a nice strawberry tart,” he relates as the Monte Carlo money got serious.