EPT Season 3
Recap of the 3rd EPT Season
In 2006, the European Poker Tour started at Casino Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain. Norwegian Bjørn-Erik Glenne ousted the Tiger Woods of Poker, Phil Ivey, for the first place prize. Glenne, a former chess champion, was a relative unknown and had just made the transition to full-time poker player when he beat out one of the world's best poker players for first place, setting a precedent that would be followed the next year when the first and second places in the Barcelona Open would go to professional backgammon players. Glenne would start his full-time poker career with a €691,000 win to back his impressive showing at the Season 3 opener.
Unlike Season 2, where the London event was dominated by European players, the 2006 European Poker Championships in Grosvenor Victoria Casino saw the second time in EPT history that an Australian (Emad Tahtouh, who came in second place) made the final tables. The first time had been only weeks before in Barcelona, where Aussie Jeff Lisandro came in sixth, after having won bracelets in the World Series of Poker the two consecutive years before. Lisandro faced Phil Ivey in the Barcelona event, after having beaten him in head-on competition in the WSOP $10,000 no limit hold'em circuit event just over a year before. Britain's own Victoria Coren, a well-known writer and media personality, would take the first place prize of ₤500,000, beating out the other 397 competitors for that event. This made Coren the first women to ever win an EPT event (she was also the first player to win a televised professional tournament and a televised celebrity tournament).
The third event of Season 3 moved the action to Casinos Austria in Baden, Austria for the Big Double 2006. This four day event in early October saw 331 entrants willing to pay the €5,000 buy-in, a €1,000 increase from the price the year before. In the end, Duc Thank Nguyen of Germany won first place with pocket fours, taking the €487,397 prize from American Ben Johnson, who came in second, and third place went to then-21 year old Dario Minieri, an Italian poker player who would go on to win a WSOP bracelet for his performance in the 2008 $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em Six-handed event (which he won with pocket queens).
Great shame befell the proud nation of Ireland later that month during the final European Poker Tour event of 2006 as Britain's Roland de Wolfe stole the title away from the home players in the Irish Masteres. 389 entrants were on hand in the Regency Airport Hotel in Dublin, but de Wolfe ousted them all and won the €554,300 first place prize, setting a new record as he became the first person to win a title in both the World Poker Tour and the European Poker Tour. Three and a half years later, he would win a bracelet in the World Series of Poker, becoming only the second person to achieve titles in all three tournaments. David Tavernier of France came in second place, winning the €314,120 prize, while Swedish player William Thorson made the first of his career final tables in the EPT, cashing in at €184,780.
After the holiday break, Season 3 of the EPT resumed at Casino Copenhagen in Copenhagen, Denmark with the EPT Scandinavian Open. Compared to Season 2, this season had an extra non-Scandinavian at the final table (for a total of three of the eight), but first place still went to Swede Magnus Petersson, who took home the kr4,078,080 first place prize, shutting out Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier in the head to head final hand. Grospellier would eventually come to dominate the EPT leaderboards, fighting Luca Pagano for first place in TLB points. Like so many other players who made it to the final tables during Season 3, Grospellier holds a unique poker record-- this former Starcraft and Warcraft champion was not only the first person to reach "Supernova" and "Supernova Elite" on PokerStars, but he also holds the Guinness World Record for the most Single Table Sit & Goes played within one hour. Theo Jørgensen would once again make the final table (his first being the season prior in Deauville), but would be shut out in fourth place, denying him once again of the WSOP, WPT and EPT triad.
Dortmund, Germany replaced Deauville, France as the next stop on the European Poker Tour, but this newcomer event gathered 493 buy-ins, the greatest amount of the season, save for the grand finals in Monaco. The four-day event, held in Spielbank Hohensyburg, Dortmund, would end when Norway's Andreas Høivold, a relative newcomer himself, would take the €672,000 first place prize with a pair of pocket queens. For this title, he would oust Sebastian Ruthenberg, one of the all-time top scorers in European Poker Tour history, who came in third place.
Peter Willers Jespen
Season 3 of the EPT added a new locale, and its premier event was held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Warsaw, Poland. The final table of this four day event in mid-March 2007 was comprised of a diverse group of Europeans. Peter Willers Jepsen of Denmark took the first place prize in this new event (the equivalent of $415,679) with pocket sevens in the final hand. German favourite Katja Thater, popular in her home country because of her appearances in the poker-related media, finished fifth. The turnout at the Warsaw event was the smallest of Season 3 with only 284 buy-ins, but this was not unusual for the first time playing in a new location.
Eleven short days after the end of the Warsaw event, poker lovers around the world convened once again at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort in Monte Carlo, Monaco for the European Poker Tour Grand Final. There were 706 entrants who paid the €10,000 buy-in and sat down at tables to play for a piece of the €6,636,400 prize pool. The final table was packed with heavy poker talent. Eighth place went to Ram Vaswani of the Hendon Mob, who had performed incredibly well in the previous season and became the first (and currently the only) person to make it to four final tables in the European Poker Tour. Andy Black, a long-term professional poker player who, at the time of the tournament, had already semi-retired once, come in fifth place at the Word Series of Poker main event, and been the subject of a poker documentary, came in seventh place for a solid money finish. In the end, American Gavin Griffin beat Canadian Marc Karam for the €1,825,010 grand prize, solidifying the career that would eventually lead Griffin to become the first player ever to win a World Series of Poker bracelet and titles at the World Poker Tour and European Poker Tour.