As summer approaches it means the end to another season of the European Poker Tour. But while keen eyes turn towards Las Vegas and the looming World Series it's worth having a look back over season five's winners, each owning stiking talent and each likely to head to Vegas with similar results in mind...
Sebastian Ruthenberg kicked off the season with a win. The PokerStars ShootingStar from Germany, who had won his first World Series bracelet in the seven card stud hi/lo event three months earlier, added €1,361,000 to his career earnings, defeating Fintan Gavin heads up. The first event of the season attracted a massive field of 619.
Then it was on to London, the home nation of the tour. While Jason Mercier won the first High Roller event to be staged in the EPT's home town, Michael Martin recovered from a chip and a chair to win the lot - that's £1 million to you and me.
The EPT then swung east for a three stop trip around the newer end of the tour. Budapest made its first appearance as a fixture. A field of 532 packed into the casino ballroom where Englishman William Fry stunned the masses with a dominating performance, good for €595,839.
Warsaw saw a lead candidate for player of the year emerge in Portuguese pro Joao Barbosa. Barbosa would win a final table that featured Dario Minieri, Arnaud Mattern, Ludovic Lacay and Andrea Benelli, a feat worth €367,141. It was the best of seven cash finishes Barbosa would record in season five alone.
Mattern had triumphed in the Czech capital 12 months earlier but this year the even bigger event belonged to Italian player Salvatore Bonavena. In a tournament loaded with Italians Bonavena came out best, winning €774,000.
After swinging east the EPT headed west, way west, across the Atlantic to a far off corner of Europe known as the Bahamas. Paradise Island to be exact, where Poorya Nazari won the event 1,347 players entered with dreams of winning. His reward for doing just that in the PCA was $3 million and easy access to a beach to relax on afterwards.
Swapping warm ocean water for cold Normandy coast winds came next for EPT regulars as they descended once more on the French town of Deauville after a three year leave of absence. It was like the tour had never left though with 645 players raiding the town in pursuit of a first prize of €851,400. That honour went to German player Moritz Kranich.
Copenhagen never fails to host a good show and this year was no different. It had looked like popular EPT regular Peter Hedlund was all set to win his first title in Denmark until Finland's Jens' Kyllonen shoved him out of the way, taking the €878,057 first prize for himself.
Mike McDonald became the youngest ever EPT winner when he won in Dortmund back in season four. This year he was attempting to do the same, and came within five places of doing just that. He hadn't counted on the Black Mamba herself, Sandra Naujoks, then the newest member of the PokerStars ShootingStar team to spoil the party. Naujoks beat a field of 667 to win her first EPT, worth €917,000.
As winter faded away and spring brought new hope the tour rolled into the picturesque town of San Remo, perched along the Riviera coast in northern Italy. A total of 1,178 made this the largest European field ever in EPT history with a prize pool of more than €5.7 million up for grabs. Croatian player Dragan Galic led the field nearly from start to finish but ultimately it was Constant Rijkenberg, a 20 year old from Amsterdam with a talent for poker and for catching a shade of luck at the right time, who took €1,508,000 back to Holland.
That left Monte Carlo, the fifth incarnation of the grand final in the spiritual home of European poker. After a typically thrilling final Dutchman Pieter De Korver recovered from little more than a big blind to take the lot against American Matthew Woodward, landing himself €2,300,000 and European poker's biggest prize, bringing an end to another fantastic year.