The sixth season of the PokerStars-sponsored European Poker Tour (EPT) kicks off on August 18th with a brand new stop in Moscow, Russia. The tournament series will also make its first sojourn to Portugal. Poker News Daily sat down with EPT Founder and Team PokerStars Pro member John Duthie to get his take.
Poker News Daily: Talk about the planning that went into the EPT Season 6 schedule.
Duthie: This is now the sixth season of the tour and the majority of our events are held in well-established venues with people we are used to dealing with, which makes the planning stage much easier. Scheduling itself becomes more of an issue as more and more events need to be accounted for.
PND: Talk about the additions of stops in Portugal and Russia. What makes them appealing for poker players?
Duthie: Both new venues have their own unique appeal to players and to us as emerging markets. Russia has enormous potential, where many people have been brought up playing games like chess. It is a natural transition to poker, evident by the phenomenal success of Russian players on the worldwide stage. There are already some exciting new events in Russia, namely the PokerStars-sponsored Russian Poker Tour, and we hope to add to this with the new EPT event in Moscow in August.
Portugal has always been one of my favorite destinations in Europe and I am delighted that we are finally going to be holding an event there. This will be a wonderful opportunity for players to take in the sights of Vilamoura and maybe get a few rounds of golf in. Poker in Portugal is growing day by day. Hopefully, the EPT will act as a catalyst and we will see poker booming there in the years to come.
PND: What has made the EPT such a phenomenal success, breaking records for prize pools and fields across Europe?
Duthie: The support of the players is the simple answer to this. The EPT offers so much more than simply a major poker tournament circuit. We offer venues in some of the most beautiful and inspiring cities in the world, which is where we differ from the U.S. tours. Combine this with the fact that you can play in European casinos at the age of 18 and this represents the perfect opportunity for younger players to see the world for nothing if they qualify on PokerStars.
PND: Tell us how the EPT began.
Duthie: I simply put the existing individual tournaments in Europe into an organized tour and then negotiated the filming of them for broadcast. The partnership with PokerStars has always been crucial, as they provided the critical mass of players the tour needed from the outset to make it such a success. It grew exponentially from there.
PND: Are there any visa requirements or other legal obstacles for players wanting to compete in the Moscow stop?
Duthie: Yes. Visas are required for traveling to Moscow. These can easily be obtained from your local Russian consulate or by using one of the many “Visa Express” services available for a small fee. It’s a good stamp to have in your passport too!
PND: Talk about your runner-up performance to Leo Wolpert in the No Limit Hold’em Heads-Up Championship at the 2009 World Series of Poker (WSOP).
Duthie: It was a great moment in my poker career and, while I was disappointed not to win, I felt I played my best poker and was unlucky not to take it down. Leo was a formidable opponent and played some great poker.
PND: How did you get started in poker?
Duthie: I saw some guys playing Seven Card Stud at the Victoria Casino about 15 years ago. I started chatting with them and the rest is history.
PND: The first seven events of EPT Season 6 have been released. Are there any details you can share about the final six stops?
Duthie: They will almost definitely be the same as last season, with one special surprise event, but until the dates and venues are secured, I would prefer not to shed too much light.