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In 2004, as the poker and online poker fever was slowly sweeping across the world, the need for a European alternative for the WPT became obvious for TV director and professional poker player John Duthie. He teamed up with PokerStars.com, and the rest – as they say - is history.

The EPT first came through as a cheaper alternative for the WPT. In its first 3 seasons, EPT buy-ins, and implicitly the prize-pools, were about half that of a WPT event. All that would change in season 4 though. EPT buy-ins rose to about €8,000, and that coupled with the currency exchange rate seriously tipping in favor of the Euro, raised the EPT buy-ins and prize pools to WPT levels (about $10k buy-ins). The move was made possible by the huge popularity the various EPT events had enjoyed over the previous three seasons.

Even with the higher buy-ins, casinos often proved too small to accommodate the crowds interested in participating.

Season 4 became a resounding success. There were 11 events in it spread all over Europe, and one event in the Bahamas. Two new events were added (the Prague one and the San Remo one) which both sold out. The centerpiece of the tour, the Monte Carlo Grand Final, attracted more players than ever before despite the €10,000 buy-in. Apparently, the more it costs to enter a live tourney, and the bigger the prize-pool becomes, the more people are interested in participating.

Season 5 of the EPT starts September 20th 2008, with the Barcelona Open, moves to the Victoria Casino in London, followed by the Polish Open in Warsaw, and EPT Prague in December. The Tour will return to the Barriere Casino in Deuville, France sometime early 2009. The Scandinavian Open takes place in February, followed by the German Open, the EPT San Remo and the Grand Final in Monte Carlo on April 28th in Monte Carlo.

The smallest buy-ins are the €5,000+€250 ones featured in the San Remo, Dortmund and Prague events.

The largest buy-in is the €10,000+€600 one for the Grand Final.

EPT final tables are 8 player ones, and not 6 player ones like those featured in the WPT.

The main sponsor of the EPT is PokerStars.com, the show is televised by Sunset +Vine. The first seasons were hosted by Caroline Flack, joined later by Natalie Pinkham. Starting with season 4, the show’s host has been Kara Scott. Commentators are Collin Murray and founder John Duthie.

Duthie was indeed the perfect man for the job of launching a WPT like circuit in Europe. He directed several UK TV shows, and he had been a successful high-stakes poker player well before he got the EPT on the road. His biggest win came in 2000, in the Poker Million, where he won £1 million, live on TV.

He also had a WSOP final table presence in 2005, in the $3,000 NL Holdem event.

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