On Aug. 26, 2013, Season 10 of the PokerStars European Poker Tour will kick off with the first stop in Barcelona, Spain. Since its inception in 2004, when the famed tour opened its doors in the same city as it will this year, the EPT has grown to become poker's leading poker tour.
Back in 2004, the first event on the EPT was a mere €1,000 buy-in that attracted 229 players. Won by Alexander Stevic, the Swede was awarded €80,000 for his victory. By today's EPT standards, that might easily be considered a failure for an event, but as the old adage states, "Rome wasn't built in a day." Last season, the smallest first-place prize went to Ruben Visser for capturing the EPT London title. He earned £595,000 (approx. €683,000), or more than 8.5 times what Stevic won back at the inaugural event nearly a decade ago.
While much of the poker tournament world has had to make countless adjustments in order to battle with the constantly-changing financial climate of the poker industry, the EPT made successful strides year after year, first in its rise to the top, and then further in distancing itself from the rest of the pack. Season 1 began with seven events and an average buy-in per event of €3,311.29. In Season 4, the average buy-in had increased to €7,017.89 when 11 events were held, and in Seasons 6, 7, and 8, the number of main events on the EPT schedule was at the all-time high of 13.
Last season, in Season 9, the number of events was reduced to eight, but that's not necessarily a negative result. Remember, each EPT stop last season was widened in length to become a much larger poker festival with more events over a longer duration at each stop. Needless to say, the EPT is constantly adapting, but let's take a deeper look into the numbers over the lifespan of the tour.
|No. of Events||7||7||8||11||11||13||13||13||8|
|Avg. Prize Pool||€682,996||€1,385,400||€2,455,066||€3,558,627||€4,490,520||€3,372,584||€4,065,776||€3,603,910||€4,712,776|
|Avg. 1st Prize||€211,876||€421,917||€730,698||€937,688||€1,184,326||€714,826||€823,995||€735,756||€945,474|
Notice how through Seasons 1 and Season 5, the average number of entrants, average prize pool, and average first-place prize all increased year after year. As PokerStars and the EPT saw this happening, they also gradually increased the number of events, first with a slight bump from Season 2 to Season 3, and then with a bigger jump from Season 3 to Season 4 after seeing the success of the first "test increase." After Season 5, the EPT attempted another increase in the number of events to 13, but saw a decline across the board. Despite the drop, the EPT stuck to 13 events for Season 7 and Season 8 to follow.
The jump from Season 3 to Season 4 and the increases in average buy-in, average entrants per event, average prize pool, and average first-place prize were largely in part to the effect of the additions of the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure and EPT San Remo. Both attracted large numbers and have continued to do so ever since. Then in Season 5, San Remo jumped to nearly 1,200 entrants alone.
It's important to point out here that the ceiling that was hit during Season 5 and Season 8 isn't necessarily full result of the EPT getting too big for its own good, but rather that other tournaments and tours became much more frequent around the world and around Europe. Then on April 15, 2011, Black Friday hit and American players were cut out from being able to qualify for PokerStars events online. Simply take a look at the numbers EPT Grand Final. In Season 6, the event took place in 2010 prior to Black Friday and attracted 848 players. In Season 7, when the event took place after Black Friday, it only attracted 686 players. Also take into account that during 2010 and 2011, the North American Poker Tour was running, affecting some of the numbers for EPT events simply because American players no longer needed to qualify for big events in Europe as they were able to do soon their home soil.
After Season 8, the EPT maintained the same average buy-in across the same number of events from the year before, but saw the biggest decline, going from an average of 722 players per event to 646. The EPT seemed to recognise this problem and understand the poker climate, leading them to make another change — probably their biggest change to date — to the EPT schedule.
For Season 9, the tour dropped from 13 events to eight, but instead increased each stop's length to much more of a poker festival. Combined with the PokerStars sub-tours and proper schedule around other poker events in Europe, like the World Series of Poker Europe, numbers once again shot back up. In fact, Season 9 on the EPT saw the largest number of average entrants per event by more than 100 players over the previous high, the largest average prize pools, and the second largest average first-place prizes.
Looking ahead to Season 10, PokerStars is sticking with eight events for the size of the tour, and all the biggest and baddest stops will be there. One thing is for sure, with nine seasons under the EPT's belt, PokerStars has plenty of information handy in order to successfully project what's going to make this season succeed just as well as any other.
Once again in Season 10, you will also see the EPT dates work in a sort of "unwritten agreement" with other big events in Europe. EPT London takes place right before WSOP Europe and butts up to the beginning of that event, which is then followed by World Poker Tour Paris. This allows the traveling poker player to head over to Europe and jump from event to event to event for an entire month of big events. Then in December, EPT Prague and WPT Prague are back to back, which will also help both events like it has in the past.
Needless to say, the excitement has never been bigger for the EPT. With Season 10 kicking off next week in Barcelona, you won't want to miss out. Whether you'll be playing in the event or following along through live reporting, PokerNews will have you covered, so stay tuned right here to these pages for much more to come.
For more information on the European Poker Tour, please head over to EPT.com.