It’s been a headline making year for PokerStars, as the brand has almost hit every wave of the hot take spectrum. There has been the good, PokerStarsNJ launching and marking the company’s return to the United States for the first time since 2011. The bad that then turned ugly after months of player backlash, stemming from changes to their long standing VIP program. Then there are some decisions that, immediately, can’t be filed into either of those categories.
The brand shift from regionally named series, such as the EPT, LAPT, AAPT and such, names that have become synonymous with poker in those specific areas of the world, is the biggest unknown. In essence, these changes shouldn’t really change anything. Instead of those regionally named series, they will either be branded as ‘PokerStars Championships’ or ‘PokerStars Festivals’.
The events, the atmosphere, the locations, should all remain the same and while these announcements were made public by PokerStars a few months ago, the changes didn’t really sink in until this past week. That’s when the European Poker Tour, after thirteen seasons, officially ended it’s run as the preeminent international tour.
The EPT has been a proving ground for the world’s best players over the last decade and has become the gold standard of tournament poker, outside the United States. Big name pros and people associated with the legendary tournament series shared their goodbyes after Prague, focusing on all the things that made the EPT great.
Playing at #EPTPrague & my table has 9 different nationalities & languages. We’re all having fun w each other.
This is why I love poker.
— Liv Boeree (@Liv_Boeree) December 15, 2016
PokerStars Team Pro Liv Boeree has been a staple on the EPT since she won the San Remo Main Event for nearly $1,700,000 way back in Season 6. Since then, she’s seen the tour grow to include competitors from not just Europe but across the globe and that diversity showed at one of her EPT Prague starting tables.
I didn’t think I’d care as much as I did & the #EPT was a much bigger part of my life than I realized.
So, thank you, everyone.
— Joe Stapleton (@Stapes) December 21, 2016
Joe Stapleton has been the voice of the EPT live streams for the better part of the last decade. His voice, along with partner James Hartigan’s, spread across the globe during EPT broadcasts. While everyone expects the duo to be back in action at the first PokerStars Championship in 2017, Joe said, “Thank you.” to his adopted European family.
Thanks to @PokerStarsLIVE & the EPT for running the best poker tournaments on the planet for 13 years straight with integrity & class. ????
— Adam Levy (@Roothlus) December 19, 2016
Adam ‘Roothlus’ Levy is one of the more respected online players in the world but while he does most of his damage on the virtual felt, he’s been a regular at PokerStars live events during his storied career. Levy complimented the EPT staff for running some of the best tournament’s the world had to offer.
Wouldn’t be right to close out European Poker Tour without saying thanks to the man who made it all happen. Much appreciated, @JohnnyDuthie
— Brad Willis (@BradWillis) December 19, 2016
Last, but certainly not least, the thanks for the man that started it all. Brad Willis, PokerStars Head of Blogging, knows that creating the EPT wasn’t a one man show but that Johnny Duthie deserved credit for conceptualizing and growing the tour into what it eventually became.