Thursday, December 15, 2016

Travel Report: EPT13 Prague, Day 7 -- The Beginning of the End

Thursday was Day 2 of the European Poker Tour Prague Main Event, the last Main Event ever for the EPT.

Late registration ended with the start of play, and when the numbers were all added up there were 1,192 players who took part in the €5,300 buy-in event -- a record for Prague. That meant the top 231 would make the money and were able to share the €5,781,200 prize pool, and as it happened they reached that point of the tournament with the last hand of the night.

With a few hours to go me and Nick, one my blogging partners, made a bet regarding whether or not the bubble would burst before night’s end. We factored in the possibility that they might get to the end of the day’s schedule having gotten very close to 231 -- perhaps close enough to start hand-for-hand play -- and would therefore extend things thereafter in order to ensure the bubble would go pop on Day 2. In that case, we decided, our bet would be a push, and indeed that’s exactly what happened.

Crazily there were no less than eight all-ins in which the at-risk player survived (either by winning the pot or chopping) before the ninth one fell and finally the day was done. One of the tougher bubbles I can remember, and it seemed sorta fitting for the last ever European Poker Tour Main Event.

There’s been a few references around the tournament room to this being the “last EPT,” especially since the Main Event began. Again, it’s only just a name change, and in my end-of-night recap I riffed a little on the “what’s in a name?” line while alluding to the fact that there won’t be too much different next year beyond the signage. But there remains this feeling that we’re coming to the end of something, especially being here and around so many people for whom the EPT has been a big part of their lives for such a long time.

Ever since I more or less became involved full-time with poker, I’ve become accustomed to this feeling that everything about it feels weirdly tenuous -- as though it’s all going to end at any moment, even if there exists no rational basis for such an impression. This feeling dates back to the very first time I ever went to report on a poker tournament, when I was fairly comfortable with the idea that it wasn’t going to be anything but a one-time deal.

I don’t mean to suggest this feeling is especially negative or less than constructive, like some kind of apocalyptic mindset full of fear and anxiety about everything blowing up. But rather just a kind of useful edginess, kind of like when playing in a poker tournament and continuing with an understanding that (if you aren’t the chip leader) every single hand could theoretically be your last one.

We had the media event after play was done and I wasn’t able to make too much happen in it, becoming short and experiencing that very feeling until finally jamming with ace-ten, being up against both ace-jack and ace-king, and indeed meeting my end. Nothing jarring about it.

There’s something healthy about being always ready for the end, I think -- that is, not fooling yourself into thinking something is going to continue indefinitely when you know that isn’t really possible, and instead being mentally prepared and ready for worst-case scenarios. I suppose that’s why the bubble being so especially stubborn to burst seemed appropriate, as though the tour itself had to do some work before accepting the truth that the end is nigh.

Still a ways to go for me, though, before the end -- four more days of work plus travel home. But tomorrow we’ll have a shorter one, I think, and I’m looking forward to a nice dinner out with Vera and the others. Meanwhile, visit the PokerStars blog to follow this last EPT Main to its conclusion.

Photo: courtesy Neil Stoddart / PokerStars blog.

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