European Poker Masters (EPM), an Overview
The European Poker Masters (EPM) was the brainchild of the visionary poker aficionados who launched one of the most popular TV channels in Europe, the hugely successful Poker Channel. They were of the view that Europe needed to compete favourably with the United States, who, at the time, was streets ahead of the game as far as live poker broadcasting was concerned.
The Poker Channel was duly launched in the United Kingdom in 2005 and presented both live and pre-recorded action of exciting poker encounters, as well as coverage of online tournaments. It was an enormous success and over 1 million viewers per month switched on to the innovative channel. CEO Crispin Nieboer and the inspirational James Hopkins were overwhelmed by the success.
The Poker Channel was originally broadcast by Sky but constraints forced Nieboer and Hopkins to find a workable alternative and in March 2006 the ground breaking pan-European Poker Channel was unveiled in six countries – Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, France and Germany.
In an effort to grow the game in Europe, Nieboer and Hopkins conceived the idea of poker tournaments which would have large enough prize pools and status to attract the really big names of poker from the United States, and the British Poker Open, and later, the European Poker Masters were introduced to unprecedented success.
The EPM was the first ever totally independent European poker tour which encompassed four separate events held at different venues in Europe between September and December 2006, and the inaugural high stakes cash game, the Million Dollar Cash Game. Although the events were not broadcast live, interest in the newly formed EPM was dazzling, and viewers in 54 countries enjoyed the spectacle in 18 different languages!
The EPM kicked off in London – an ‘invites only’ tournament – and attracted the biggest names on the international poker circuit. The living legends of the game – Phil Ivey, Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, Gus Hansen, Howard Lederer, Eric Seidel, Roland De Wolfe, Mike ‘the Mouth’ Matusow – all made the trip to London, and from then on in the EPM was the credible poker tour of Europe.
With so many of the giants of the game in Europe, the London event was duly followed by the first high stakes cash game, the Million Dollar Cash Game, billed as the ‘ultimate battle of the poker elite’, and a battle royal it was indeed! From London the tour moved on to the open events in Vienna, Paris and Dublin, where a buy-in of $3000 was the criteria for taking part in one of the most exciting poker tours on the schedule.