This second series kicks off in a half-hour or so with the second $1,500 buy-in “Pro/Am” event, a three-day event (with two Day 1s). The top nine finishers win spots in the $20,000 buy-in Main Event that starts next Tuesday. In addition to that Main Event -- an eight-handed no-limit hold’em tourney this time (unlike the six-handed tourney they played last month) -- this second series also includes another charity tourney as well as a one-day, $2K “Turbo Event.”
Unlike back in August when the tournament circuit calendar was relatively free of potential conflicts, those eligible to play in next week’s EPL Main Event will be choosing between heading over to the Palms or perhaps going a number of other places next week to play.
The World Poker Tour Grand Prix de Paris event will be happening next week, as will a WSOP Circuit event (in Louisiana) and the UKIPT Dublin event. And right around the corner is the Partouche Poker Tour’s Main Event, for which some who go for the WPT Paris tourney will surely stick around. There’s also the World Championship of Online Poker starting up this weekend over at PokerStars for which anyone wanting to play is going to have to do so from outside the United States.
The list of eligible players continues to grow as more players meet the EPL qualifying criteria. Back in May when the initial Season 1 roster was announced, there were 217 names listed (plus Annie Duke, who as EPL Commissioner is not playing in the main events). By August 1, the list had grown to 251 players (again, plus Duke) thanks to WSOP cashes having made several new players eligible. Randy Dorfman was added about a week later following a review of his cashes, making the total 252 heading into that first EPL tourney series.
Today the EPL’s current list of league qualified players shows 260 are now listed (plus Duke). The extra eight -- Jeremiah DeGreef, Dan Fleyshman, Sean Getzwiller, George Long, Brandon Meyers, Steve O’Dwyer, Micah Raskin, and Clifford Waite -- all earned cards for the rest of Season 1 by virtue of final tabling the first Pro/Am event and winning their way into the first ME. (Andy Bloch also made that first Pro/Am final table, but he already had a two-year card.)
A total of 137 played that first EPL Main Event, including the aforementioned eight who won seats via the Pro/Am. I think it’s safe to assume that Andy Bloch probably would’ve played the Main Event whether or not he’d won his way in, so we can say 129 of the 252 players who could have played that first ME did. Next week there will be 260 players who can play, with (probably) seven or eight or nine who couldn’t otherwise play winning their way in via the Pro/Am.
There will be a lot of attention given to the final turnout and how it compares to the 137 that played the first ME. That figure -- which I took to be a fairly decent-sized field, all things considered -- was variously viewed as a “success” by some and something less than that by others.
Of course, when it comes to the well-being of the EPL and its prospects going forward, there’s a lot that matters that doesn’t have much at all to do with turnouts. Certainly an especially small field or a much-bigger-than-expected one will be meaningful, but it is the behind-the-scenes stuff (e.g., the courting of sponsors and other possible projects) that are probably of more importance than how many play.
Still, I’m as curious as anyone to see what happens next week.
I’ve also become more excited about the EPL blog where I’m getting to post occasionally. The most recent entry in my “Community Cards: Poker in Pop Culture” column went out earlier this week and has to do with the role of poker in the 1951 film A Streetcar Named Desire. For those of you who haven't seen the film, that picture to the left shows Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski moments after missing a flush draw.
If you do happen to check out the column, let me know what you think. ’Cos, you know, whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.