Forget fun, the EPT should be torture

European Poker Tour

Members of the poker media were discussing the difference this week between the regional poker tours, such as the Estrellas or UK & Ireland Poker Tour, and the prestigious events of the European Poker Tour. Are smaller, regional poker tours more fun than the EPT?

It was an idea bandied around during UKIPT4 Nottingham last week. Not that the EPT wasn’t fun, just that perhaps UKIPTs were more relaxed.

It’s a fair point. One only need spend a brief time at a regional tour to sense a more informal attitude, more frivolous than the straight-edged reality of the EPT. Players seem to smile more, laugh more. There is a sense of community as the bandwagon moves around the country from one event to another.

The EPT will never really have this, but then perhaps it never really ought to. New faces appear each season to replace those of old making each season like the first day of school, with players only aware that they must fight their hardest for a share of the substantially larger EPT cake.

I say this is exactly how it’s supposed to be and is at the heart of what makes the EPT the most popular poker tour in the world.

It’s obvious why a regional tour would be considered fun, while a bigger tour might not be. The principle difference is money.

A regional tour may post a buy-in of €500 to €1,000. To most poker players this is still a massive sum, far beyond their weekly home game budget. But to the jobbing pro or aspiring amateur, perhaps qualifying at a massively reduced rate, it’s a number that can be understood (I’m not suggesting there’s a problem with basic math). If you manage to cash then great, if not, you got a good story without putting your mortgage under threat.

Then there is the EPT, where players don’t have mortgages.

If the EPT is a more serious place then it’s only because the stakes are so high. It is the pinnacle of world poker and because of that it should be the hardest place to succeed. If the EPT is “less fun” it’s only because it is so big and successful and because so many players want to compete on it.

The standard €5,000 buy-in is even more of a hurdle for most–enough to worry about, enough to make you think twice, enough to make only those who can put such thoughts aside succeed.

Perhaps this is why the only cheerful players you see are the high and super high rollers, to whom the buy-in is but a trifle.

This, of course, is a back of the envelope analysis of the current EPT climate. My point is that the EPT should be the pinnacle of world poker, the high water mark. Whether it’s fun or not is almost beside the point, although it would be nice to think everyone enjoyed themselves.

Besides, who really ever enjoys a poker tournament other than the player that wins?