EPT Season 5
Recap of the 5th EPT Season
Season 5 of the EPT had two events in London, England, unlike all of the other seasons. The first event was the 2008 European Poker Championships, held at Grosvenor Victoria Casino in the beginning of October. This five day event drew 596 entrants, although American Michael Martin would lay down a final hand with pocket fours to take the ?1,000,000 prize, a considerable step up from his fifth place finish at the Grand Final the previous season. This would be Martin's last final table at the EPT to date, but it was a hard-earned victory; he beat out Irishman Alan Smurfit, who had won a WSOP bracelet the year before, as well as Johannes Strassmann and Antony Lellouche, both high ranking players on the EPT leaderboards.
At the EPT London ?1 Million Showdown, the second London event of Season 5, Jason Mercier was able to overcome his previous loss and come back with a first place win over some of the best poker players in the world, including John Juanda (second), Scotty Nguyen (fifth), and David Benyamine (eighth), all of whom have won bracelets at the World Series of Poker (Juanda and Nguyen have both won multiple). This two day bonus event extended the play at Grosvenor Victoria Casino and carried a hefty ?20,000 buy-in, the highest in EPT history, but Mercier walked away with the best of the nine payouts.
Two weeks later, in the middle of November, 2008, Casinos Poland Hyatt Regency in Warsaw, Poland, saw the next bout of EPT action as the five day EPT Polish Open began with almost 150 fewer buy-ins than it had the previous year. Further putting eastern Europe on the map where poker is concerned was Atanas Gueorguiev of Bulgaria, who became the first person from his country to make an EPT final table. PokerStars celebrity Dario Minieri, who had made a strong showing in San Remo earlier that year, would once again finish third, while first place (the equivalent of $459,226) would go to Portugal native Joao Barbosa.
Atlantis Resort and Casino
The return of the EPT PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) to the European Poker Tour saw some heavy and impressive plays. The Atlantis Resort and Casino in Paradise Island (in the Bahamas) was swarming for six days with 1,347 entrants all gunning for the $3,000,000 grand prize, which ultimately went to Canadian Poorya Nazari. Four Americans made the final table at the PCA, including Kevin Saul, who had been the chip leader the day before, until losing a large wager to Brazilian Alexandre Gomes, Tony Gregg (who would eventually come in second, winning $1,700,000), Dan Heimiller (who came in sixth and was well-known for winning a World Series of Poker bracelet and having reached multiple WSOP final table as well as a final table at the World Poker Tour), and Dustin Dirksen. Gomes was knocked out of the game due to a truly unfortunate play; he had pocket aces and saw three jacks come up, giving him a full house and a strong hand, but the WSOP and WPT title holder failed to get his hat trick when Benny Spindler held the fourth jack in his hand, giving him quad jacks and the rest of Gomes' chips.