EPT Prague Diary: Teaching the World Poker One EPT at a Time

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EPT Prague has, once again, welcomed hundreds of high-level pros but, as I discovered, these events aren’t just for poker’s elite.

EPT Prague was another example of how PokerStars is making the game more inclusive for poker players at all levels. (Image: CardsChat/Daniel Smyth)

In my second diary entry from EPT Prague, I want to discuss the topic of inclusivity. Poker is a game for everyone but, at times, it doesn’t always pan out that way. Over the years, we’ve seen the rise of high stakes cash games and tournaments.

These events make for great entertainment and million-dollar prizes but, in most cases, they’re reserved for those with big bankrolls. What I noticed during my time at EPT Prague is that PokerStars isn’t there for high rollers and high rollers alone.

Road to inclusivity stars on PokerStars Power Path

The Power Path system launched this year is a testament to that. For less than a dollar, anyone can go through a few steps and win their way into an EPT main event. That alone is an example of how PokerStars is making big-time tournaments accessible to all.

However, we can’t pretend that satellites are unique to PokerStars. What’s less common, however, is the service players get when they win an EPT package. Talking to members of PokerStars team during EPT Prague, it was clear they want to provide an inclusive experience for everyone.

Even before someone touches down, the PokerStars hospitality team is on hand to help. From flights and transfers to hotel rooms and support during the event, no stone is left unturned. That’s important because pro-level poker tournaments can be intimidating for newbies.

Even if you know how to play, there’s a certain amount of trepidation. Where do you buy in? Do I need to pay for food during my stay? Is there a player’s lounge? These are simple questions for EPT regulars to answer but, to the uninitiated, they’re not.

Showing everyone poker at its best

PokerStars might not get everything right, but they want to. From my perspective, the work that went into EPT Prague was impressive. I was joined by journalists and social media reporters from the UK, France, and Brazil. Almost all of them were either completely new to poker or, at best, amateurs.

PokerStars wanted to show the world how a professional poker event goes down. Essentially, they were showing the world how to play poker, quite literally. I watched the mix of journalists from The Mirror, CNews, and other outlets learn the basics from PokerStars Ambassador Nick Walsh.

PokerStars Ambassdor Nick Walsh showing the world how to play poker. (Image: CardsChat/Daniel Smyth)

In his ever-erudite way, he elucidated not only the mechanics of poker but its inherent qualities as a game. I watched as the newbies got their first taste of poker just yards away from world-class players such as Steve O’Dwyer. On one side of the room a group of people were starting their poker journeys, on the other were those further down the road than most will ever get.

It was an interesting dynamic that, again, speaks to the inclusive environment PokerStars has created at EPT events. This fact was exemplified further when I spoke to Louise Ulrick. She’d won her way to EPT Prague via the Poker Power/PokerStars boot camp initiative. Despite having no previous experience, Ulrick was loving her time at EPT Prague and already planning her next poker trip.

PokerStars sells poker dreams

Of course, it’s easy for me to wax lyrical about PokerStars after being treated well for three days, but my reaction isn’t unique. My fellow media members were sold on the EPT experience, including Jackie Annett from The Mirror who told me she may have caught the poker bug.

The same goes for players. Everyone who qualified for EPT Prague was shown the same level of hospitality I received. That’s just the way it is and, in my opinion, the way it should be if you want everyone to enjoy poker.

Yes, EPT champions are rightly rewarded and lauded for their skills. However, these events are for everyone, not just the professionals. PokerStars’ team knows this, which is why I left Prague with the view that EPT events are as much about inclusivity as they are high-quality poker tournaments.

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