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Home / European Poker Tour - EPT Season 5 / The Historic PokerStars European Poker Tour Season 4 Grand Final – Part 1

The Historic PokerStars European Poker Tour Season 4 Grand Final – Part 1

With the PokerStars European Poker Tour (EPT) Season 5 just around the corner, we thought we’d take a moment to reflect on the historic Grand Final of EPT Season 4.

EPT: The Symbol of European Poker Growth

While the size of tournament fields in the marquee tournaments in the US have been declining, the EPT Grand Final has demonstrated consistent growth in both field sizes (from 211 in Season 1 to 706 in Season 3) and new events (PokerStars Caribbean Adventure  with 1,136 players, Prague with 555 players and San Remo with 701 players). The Grand Final of Season 4 outdid itself, however, when the final turnout of 842 players from 48 different countries also ensured that the total prize money during season four of the EPT was more than €38 million, more than double the prize money of Season 3. Furthermore, 245 entrants won their seats by winning PokerStars online qualifiers.

EPT’s Poker Stars

At the other end of the spectrum from the anonymous internet qualifier are the superstars of poker and they were out in full force at the EPT Season 4 Grand Final European stars like Gus Hansen, Patrik Antonius, and Team PokerStars Pros Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier and Dario Minieri garnered a lion's share of the attention from media and railbirds, as did Daniel Negreanu, Phil Ivey, and Team PokerStars Pro Barry Greenstein.

Poker players aside, the person in the room who created the most buzz during either day-one flight of the tournament was retired tennis professional, and current Team PokerStars Pro, Boris Becker. Becker was surrounded by cameras and autograph seekers wherever he went, and in the end, a bodyguard or two were needed to give him enough breathing room to play poker.

Fast and Aggressive Play

Aggression and speed – led by a group of aggressive, young Scandinavian players – characterized the first two days of the tournament and from 842, only 382 survived to Day 2  and only 124 to Day 3.

Four Norwegians led the field at the end of play. Oyvind Riisem led the way with 441,400, followed closely by Johnny Lodden (380,300), Borge Dypvik (380,300), and Andreas Hagen (276,800). Also near the top after day two was Team PokerStars Pro and 2005 World Champion Joe Hachem (255,300).

Despite the increasing proximity of the bubble, the speed of play early in Day 3 did not decelerate. But once the bubble hit, it took more than three hours (the longest bubble in EPT history) for the 81st-place Surinder Sunar to bust out.
In the chaos of in-the-money eliminations, Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari (1,198,000) surpassed Lodden and took the lead. At the end of day three, 39 players remained.

Day 4 saw a collective tightening up as the field slowly whittled down towards the final table of eight. Play was finally stopped in the early morning of Day 5, when Hachem was eliminated on the final hand of the night in 11th place.

When the morning of Day 5 rolled around soon afterward, the final table of eight had still not been determined. Before the actual final could begin, two players had to be eliminated and as it turns out, they were both Dutchmen: Stig Top Rasmussen (10th) and Henrik Gwinner (9th).

In our next article, we will review the grand finale of the Grand Final… and what an exciting finish it was!

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